Its been 2 weeks since my first conference at Vision. I can still vaguely remember liking the messages and experiences a lot. But even more so than that, I’ll always remember one thing: God didn’t forget me.
I shared before that I naturally yearn for people’s acceptance. I grew up feeling like I had to impress those around me, or else they wouldn’t care about me. If I couldn’t do something well, or better than another, I wouldn’t present it to anybody. Likewise with God, with me feeling like a big time screw-up, I couldn’t present myself before Him. My staying away from Him ultimately generated a hatred for Him. Why, when I’m down in my low points, does He never show up? It’s been a while now. How long is it going to take for Him to respond? Don’t people say God always reaches out to you first? So where is He? And this feeling of neglect only confirmed that because I wasn’t good at something, I was being ignored. Apathy set in. My relationship with Jesus seemed like that of acquaintances distanced by time and silence. Every prayer felt like a message in a bottle, lost in sea, never finding its way into the hands of a caring God. So I stopped tossing those messages into the waters. I stopped caring to live my life with God in it. Also, nobody around me noticed, so it was easy to get away with it.
But God never gave up on me. I know that because God showed me grace when I least deserved it. When I cared not for pursuing a relationship with God, He pursued one with me. At a time when I was jaded by conferences/retreats and felt God never noticed me, I was thrusted into a conference, through somebody paying my initial deposit, and ended up not wanting to leave. Every sermon made sense and spoke to the many things I struggled with. I met a lot of cool people and actually enjoyed worship like I’ve never before.
The conference experience was great, and every message struck a chord with me, but it all pales in comparison to knowing that God didn’t forget me. I don’t know what happened the last 21 years, but in January of 2012, God remembered me.
This is probably why I might have trouble supporting the stance that someone must take a giant leap of faith to witness God work. For me, I felt like I was picked up and carried into God’s grace. Like really, at what point throughout all of this can I really brag about my effort?
Let’s talk about this motivated-make-things-work effort of mine for a minute. It took somebody to have to pay the initial deposit towards the conference for me to even consider thinking about making an effort. Even so, I was dragging my feet. During the days leading up to the conference, I was given a list of things to pray, as well as fast for. I was asked to fast breakfast every morning. Woke up just in time to get lunch, so it wasn’t that hard. Weeks passed and only I read the thing once and forgot about it. Even still, God chose to bring me to a conference and show me I don’t even have to try with God for Him to accept me.
Who does that? Seriously. You just told somebody who doesn’t make any effort that he doesn’t have to try to make an effort for you to accept him, and that you’ll do all the work. ?!?!?! Mind = blown.
But when He allows you to experience that kind of grace, you can’t help but respond. With rejoicing, happiness, excitement. You can’t help but to want others to experience it too.
I always think of the analogy told to me about wanting to share the gospel being like finding out about a good deal and wanting to tell your friends. It never really clicked with me. What if there aren’t enough coupons? Or why would I tell so many people if that means less cheap stuff for me? Why would I want to tell someone, then have them show up to church wearing the same clearance outfit as me, then talk loudly about how cheap what we’re wearing were in front of other people? Fortunately, God’s grace doesn’t run out. It never does. It also wasn’t cheap. It costed God His own son. Yet it was given to us, at no cost. Free. How can we be embarrassed by this? We’ve all received the best thing ever, something more than we could ever pay for.
I hope this is an encouragement to anyone who is reading this that even if you aren’t aware, God is seeking a relationship with you. As God promises in Revelation 3:20: Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. And also in the midst of our church being busy doing things for Him, He also wants to know us. Before the serving, the fellowshipping, the worshipping, the tithing, the sermon-ing, and all the other “do”ings, we should attempt the “seek”ings. Find out more about who we’re doing all this for. Seek the God we serve. Seek His heart. Seek a relationship. More than the advice of trustworthy friends, seek the advice of the Holy Spirit. When God is primary in our lives, everything else falls into place.
It’s getting really late now. It’s 3:08am. It’s getting to the point where I think I think coherently, but I’m not really, so I’m gonna stop. Gnight all.