"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbor
as yourself." ~Luke 10:27
In the past two weeks of National Convention and being back at home, I've done some processing and deep thinking. One of the speakers who impacted me the most at National Convention was Matthew Williams, who spoke about how God is glorified not by how much we try to do for Him, but by how we treasure Him. He challenged us to fight the temptation to juggle a lot of good deeds, but to rather treasure Christ alone and let everything come from that. As I had heard and believed before, we need to simply love Jesus, and all other love will be a natural overflow.
Well, I think Mr. Williams was right. The more I have turned to Jesus and desired Him alone, the more my heart grows desperate for others. Instead of being convicted to just share the gospel or fight for truth for truth's sake alone, a love for Jesus that fills my spirit makes me urgently eager to share that freedom and love with others like me.
So, yesterday I was up at the Portland Saturday Market in downtown Portland with the girls from my youth group. As we walked around, scanning the booths, a chill ran down my spine the second that I saw the pink t-shirt with the Planned Parenthood logo. And before I'd even had time to think, I knew God wanted me to go talk with them. I procrastinated for about 15 minutes, secretly hoping that the volunteer in the pink shirt would get lost in the crowd. Jonah and I have a lot in common. I tried out a hypothetical conversation in my head to prove that I was unprepared, but... well... I've done camps, speeches, and writing projects on the topic. Not a good excuse. I realized how disappointed in myself I would be if I walked away, even though I was so scared. No regrets.
Finally, I told Macaela what I thought God was asking me. Like I thought, she wouldn't let me walk out on it. I went back to the corner and looked around. The volunteers were standing around, waiting for people to come and talk to them. The woman nearest me, probably in her mid-twenties, was standing unoccupied. Just do it...
"Hi," I said, and she smiled warmly. It began. I asked why she supported Planned Parenthood, and she shared her story with me of how she was able to receive healthcare that she would otherwise have lacked, and how it impacted her life. As she spoke, I felt God reminding me of just how much He loves this woman. And as I explained my position, I could sense the change in my motivation. Everything about how and what I said was different because I wanted to not just show that "I'm right," but I wanted her to realize that I have a Love in me that keeps me from staying silent. It was no longer a battle of arguments as much as an attempt to understand her enough to show her the freedom Jesus gives.
I'm still learning so much, piecing this all together, processing what it all means. But I am so grateful for what I am learning. This morning, one of our pastors spoke on Matthew 7:21-23, in which Jesus says, "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" I had always been skeptical and kind of scared of this passage, because I was fearing that Jesus would not accept all the things I did for Him in this life. But for some reason, I understood this passage today, and realized that it is a comfort, not to be feared. Jesus is pointing out that out standing before God has nothing to do with what we've done "for" God, even in His name. Our salvation is based alone on knowing Jesus, being in relationship with Him. That's all. All.
Ruth Terry also spoke at National Convention, and one thing she said really impacted me. She asked rhetorically I would be happy if it was just me and God alone on a deserted island with no one to minister and no way to serve God. Would I be happy with just me and God? And even the way it's phrased there, just God? Like God is that small?
When Jesus is all we want and need, so much more will begin to come. So I challenge you as I challenge myself, leave behind the guilt-trips, the good deeds list, and the idol that ministry can become. Rather, ask Him to increase your love for Him, your ability to treasure Jesus for who He is. Just focus on Jesus. That's all.
PS - Pray for Jess.