How far do I go back… That can get hairy and ugly. For this FIRST chapter, I am going to describe WHERE and WHEN I realized that I WANTED TO BE A JESUS FREAK.
GETTING BACK TO CHURCH.
There was a LOOOONNNNGGGG dry spell. Left one church with the intention of finding a replacement shortly. 7-8(?) years later, we’re finally back. Too busy? Yep. Doin’ OK without it? Yep. (Nope). Not high on the priority list? Yep. Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid… but there we were.
Crisis occurs (more on that later). We need God, and we need him NOW. Church shopping ensues. We have a short list. We visit one, it’s OK. Not “AWE-INSPIRING” but OK. Might try it again.
The next week. We walk in to Heart of the City. Kevin sees Raydeane from college (this is how we ended up here… Raydeane and her sister DeAnn were little sisters in Kevin’s fraternity, and he had read about DeAnn when she began attend her sister’s church, where her husband (Pastor “JO”) was preaching.
We find a spot as the worship team are singin’ & playin’ and watch as an Elder up front is literally jumping up and down, moshing for Jesus. A few rows in front of us, a surfer-looking dude is standing up, arms raised high, and then sitting, praying, head down and hands clasped on the seats in front of him, maybe crying. We notice a man in a cream-colored suit, who we later learn is from Africa. Brother Charles CLEARLY loves Jesus. Arms raised, obvious emotion & devotion, praising our God. A little bit later, he is on his knees, praying his heart out. Soon after, I glance over and don’t see him until I poke my head into the aisle. He is on his hands and knees. And then, I watch him lay down on his stomach, submitting, supplicating, worshipping Jesus as I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone do before. Kevin had glanced up and since he couldn’t see down the aisle, had not witnessed Brother Charles as he completely, genuinely, demonstrated his intense love for his Savior, Jesus Christ. Kevin asked where he went, and I pointed to the floor of the aisle in front of us. “He’s lovin’ Jesus,” I said. Oh, and one or two guys up front kept yelling “COME ON!”
As I watched the moshing, and the crying, and the laying down, I thought to myself, I WANT TO BE THAT PERSON. That person who can fully, honestly, emotionally, intensely, BE A JESUS FREAK.
Pastor JO got on stage and started his message. It was extremely appropriate to our situation (cuz of course, that’s why God puts us in the right place in the right time), and he is so passionate, and loud, and convicted, and loud, and humble, and loud. I have heard more complex messages. I have heard more eloquent messages. But I have NEVER BELIEVED the message like I did that day. Pastor JO told us that Jesus isn’t a bridge to go “over troubles,” he isn’t a detour “around troubles,” he is with us “THROUGH TROUBLES.” And boy, that is where we were that day. And everybody, me especially, said “Amen.”
I have said to many people, that I have NEVER FELT ‘JESUS IN THE HOUSE’ as much as I did that day. That was September 11. We/I have gone every week since (except today, because we didn’t go to sleep until 4:00 a.m. and didn’t wake up until 11:30 a.m…. again, another story for another day). Kevin was a little worried that I’d be freaked out, but his fears were assuaged as I talked about the Sermon and the experience ALL DAY.
We have gone to church before, went EVERY WEEK for over a year without missing a Sunday, involved in Children’s ministry, involved in small groups and connected, yet … I REALLY DIDN’T GET IT. There could be many reasons why. Maybe my heart wasn’t ready, maybe I was too busy worried about my life/stature/status/ego/etc. here and now. I’m not sure, but what I can say, is that after going through the past few months (and again, more later), I am just REALLY READY (FINALLY) to STOP ACTING/BELIEVING LIKE/THAT I AM IN CONTROL. Repeat after me: Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do NOT rely on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).
Romans, Ephesians, Phillipians, Galations, Proverbs (OH MY GOSH.. have you READ THIS STUFF?). Do you know what it’s like to FINALLY REALIZE that I must be meek, humble, dependent… When I was reading the Bible before, HOW DID I NOT GET THAT?
Was I just not ready to HEAR it?
IN ANY EVENT… September 11 at HOCC was the first day of the rest of my life with Jesus as my co-pilot. I have a long road ahead of me, but I’ll do my best (with HIS help).