Those words are often used in churches I've been a part of, and in books I've read. I thought I knew what it meant to be broken before God, or to have come undone. Turns out, I was completely wrong.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the IF:Gathering in Austin, Texas with 2,200 of my closest friends. Well, actually, I went all alone. But by the end, I really did end up with some great friends!
The purpose of the IF:Gathering, founded by Jennie Allen, is to gather, equip, and unleash women to live out their purpose and serve God. ALL of my favorite Christian authors, speakers, and bloggers had signed on to speak, or were on the IF board. I was excited to hear their words in person, and so hopeful to be able to take what I learned from them and apply it to my daily life.
Friends. Sweet, sweet friends. The encounter I had with God this weekend has left me completely undone. Undone and broken. I realized that for years, I have been neglecting to see the big picture. There is so much more to God that I haven't considered. I have placed the same limits on God that I have placed on myself, and He is so. much. bigger. than. me. I recognized that I've been missing out on the prize of faith by not fully trusting in the fact that He has a plan for my life and that I have been created to fulfill a purpose. I've been playing church instead of living for, and trusting the Lord.
Fearful. Afraid. Scared. That's how I've been living my life. Afraid of what people will think of me when I mention Jesus. Fearful of asking people to join us at church because they might say no. Scared to talk to the people I love most about Christ and His amazing sacrifice for them.
To quote (to the best of my ability) Jennie Allen in the first talk she gave at IF on Friday: "Everyone we pass is going to Heaven or Hell, and we carry Jesus." We've been commanded to "go and make disciples," but I've been too scared to say anything because of what others may think of me.
My entire life has been spent people-pleasing. I've tried to say and do the right things out of fear that I won't fit in, or to earn praise from others. I've been too afraid to lead something, or even ask to begin a program or study in a church out of fear that I'm not good enough, or smart enough, or "Christian" enough. I think-- no, I know-- that I have missed opportunities to reach people for Jesus because I was too afraid to say "you know what I think our church needs…"
This weekend taught me that God is always with me; I don't need to be afraid. I need to trust God, and live my life in a way that pleases Him. I must stop living in fear. Joshua 1:9 says:
"This is my command- be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
Being courageous doesn't mean that I can't be scared or nervous; being courageous means that I have to trust God to be with me wherever I go, and to overcome my fears by having faith. Real, living, breathing, faith.
I feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest and completely rewired. Nothing is the same, because I am not the same. The blinders are off. I no longer get to hide behind my fear. I no longer get to say "someone else will do that better than I can," or sit in silence while a need goes unmet. I no longer get to ignore issues of poverty or maltreatment and assume someone else will take care of them. That is not His will for me. I understand that now, and I can’t avoid it anymore.
I know that living out His plan for me is going to be scary, inconvenient, and hard. But I also know that He is with me, whispering "Be strong and courageous. I'm with you. Have faith.”
*If you would like to view the IF:Gathering, the download is available for $25 at http://shoppe.ifgathering.com/collections/frontpage/products/digital-download?variant=1101073276
--Be careful. Your life will never be the same.