When I was a sophomore in college I had a crush on this one boy, and after he asked me out on a date I ran behind a wall and let my knees crumble. This had never happened to me before.
He asked me out on a Thursday night, and the next day my girlfriends and I took a mini road trip to Sheila’s house for the weekend. I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I tried not to talk about him, and yet everything that came out of my mouth seemed to be about him. I was so excited I could hardly sleep at night.
The week leading up to our date wasn’t much better. If anyone would pass by and nonchalantly say “what’s up” I would immediately say “the boy I like asked me out on a date can you even believe it!” instead of replying with “not much, you?”
I was a girl with a crush, and it consumed me.
Five years later and I’m finding myself to be that girl again. Except this time my crush is on JESUS.
A month ago I wrote a blog about being a Jesus freak, and I’m surprised to say I’ve only become more freaky since then. My crush on Jesus isn’t just a crush; it’s an obsession. My head is constantly clouded with thoughts of him, and I’m always looking for excuses to bring him up. I’ve had a few sleepovers recently, and while I used to love staying up late talking about boys, now all I want to do is stay up late talking about Jesus. My body is usually tense with excitement. My stomach has been invaded by butterflies. I’m overwhelmed and in love.
People in relationships always say the zsa zsa zoo wears off with time, and the deep love that follows is better than all that original gush anyway.
I wonder if this obsessive, all-consuming love I have for Jesus will wear off. I mean, I will always actively love Jesus no matter what I feel. But right now I’m so in it that I actually get what the Apostle Paul means when he writes about how it is better to remain unmarried. I remember reading that passage of scripture in high school and worrying that it meant we weren’t supposed to ever get married; that I wasn’t supposed to ever get married. I was NOT okay with that.
But now I understand. Paul writes, “An unmarried man or woman is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he or she can please the Lord.” He goes on to say that when you are married your interests are divided between God and your spouse. I feel you, Paul – I don’t want my interests to be divided! I can honestly say I’ve reached a point where it wouldn’t seem like a sacrifice or an inconvenience to be single my whole life – my love affair with Jesus is more than enough to keep me giddy.
At the same time, I don’t doubt that I’ll be married one day, but right now I don’t want anyone taking away my thoughts from Jesus. Not even Justin Timberlake. Well…let’s just say it’s a good thing that’s not even possible.
The craziest part is that I have little insight into why I’m so passionately in awe these days. I was a part of the World Race for a year, traveling around to a variety of countries and working with God’s people and doing and seeing amazing things. I loved God then. Now I spend 90% doing nothing great – I’m unemployed and live in my parent’s house. I clean and write blogs and take the occasional shower. But I’m more in love with God than ever before. Why is that?
I have a theory. I believe in order to experience the goodness of God, we truly have to be stripped down naked and voluntarily surrender ourselves into the arms of Christ. We American Christians are so good at playing it safe – at trusting God a whole lot, but not completely. Some of us give a lot of our time and money and hearts to God, but even less of us hand it all over with willing spirts. We protect ourselves by building up our bank accounts and building up walls around our hearts, and by doing so we prevent ourselves from experiencing the greatness and goodness of God.
On the World Race I was stripped naked. And I surrendered a lot. But when I came home I realized that I had a whole lot more to surrender. I had been offering my heart to God, but I was still holding onto part of it. When I realized this I began to imagine myself placing a bloody, beating and bruised heart into God’s hands and letting go of it – trusting that he would take better care of it than I had. I visualize this image nearly every day, and then I live it out in in specific actions. This I can tell you: I HAVE TASTED AND SEEN THAT THE LORD IS GOOD.
Oh, that doesn’t mean handing my heart over doesn’t hurt. BECAUSE IT DOES. But only when I painfully trust God am I able to later bask in his joy.
I read Bill Bright’s biography a few years ago, and I remember reading about how people would ask Bill about why he followed Jesus, or something, and Bill would just break into tears. I didn’t get it.
This weekend I attended a fundraising gala for the organization Scarlet Hope. Nicole, who is a girl around my age, shared her story of how she quit being an exotic dancer less than a month ago because she discovered Jesus. I wish you could’ve been there, because my words will never do justice. She stood up on stage with her zebra striped dress and talked through her tears about the darkness and hopelessness that had once engulfed her, and how now she has found the light. When she walked off the stage the room erupted into applause, and we all stood for her as tears streamed down our own cheeks.
I’m convinced that if any of my Atheist friends were there they would have accepted Jesus in that moment. There was such a presence in the room, such power, such truth – Nicole’s story certainly wasn’t made up, it didn’t require scientific explanation, it wasn’t something she contrived to make life meaningful. Her story was the story of Jesus, and the story of Jesus made me cry. And suddenly I understood why Bill bright cried when people asked him about Jesus.
I feel like a veil has been taken off my eyes – I understand why people do crazy things for Jesus. And I’m not talking about standing outside an abortion clinic with signs or threatening to burn the Quran, I’m talking about the people who are radically living for Jesus Christ with unwavering urgency in the lowest areas of life – or any area of life for that matter.
I understand why the people I met in Africa are the most joyful Christians I’ve ever met – it’s because they were stripped of EVERYTHING and nearly everyone, but they tasted and saw that the Lord is good in a way most of us Americans will probably never experience.
I understand and I’m left in utter awe.
You know how when you’re in love everything smells better, everything tastes better, everything looks sharper and more colorful? That’s exactly how I feel these days…