This was a really rad post I was invited to contribute. My friend Ryan asked me (and a few others) to write a post for INTOmore and I was not stoked. Not inspired. Felt like a fraud. I don’t even know how to properly quote The Bible – is “quote” even the right word? No prolly not.
But then I woke up the next morning and it all just poured out of me. I quickly edited and sent it to my friend before I lost confidence and started second guessing everything that I’d just put down.
Then I went to Guat. And Guat was SO GOOD. And my relationship with God and Earth and Jesus and humans; love, kindness, patience, obedience; it all just augmented exponentially. I was so worried that I’d come back and this post would be irrelevant. I was worried I’d look at it and blanche at my naiveté.
Ironically though, my wonderful, spiritual, God-lovin’ Guat trip affirmed these words.
Guys – the universe is so good. God is so good. There is so much love.
When I was six, my favorite thing to conquer was the long winding staircase banister that sat in the center of my family’s little blue house.
It wasn’t fancy, but thanks to Mom’s meticulous cleaning habits, it was always polished – which translated into speed when you hurled yourself down it, a la Mary Poppins. Despite my size, age, and proclivity towards cowgirl skirts, I had an immense penchant for danger.
My poor mother was constantly on the lookout for cliffs I might fall off of, always reminding me to slow down, to act like a lady. Eventually she enrolled me in ballet, if only to facilitate balance in hopes that I might bump into walls and fall out of trees less.
But despite all the chaos and fear, my parents never re-evaluated their obligation as my loving caretakers. At no point did my father ever conclude, “Well once again there’s a steady stream of blood coming from our daughter’s head. If Natural Selection is even remotely factual then the kid is clearly ill-fated. Maybe we should stop investing all this time and money into her schooling.”
So often salvation seems inconceivable. We all sin. We willingly hurl ourselves down slick banisters of sin toward wood floors, and call it fun. As a six-year-old, the idea of walking serenely meant missing out on life’s greatest joys. As a twenty-six-year-old, the idea of giving up revelry resonates similarly. And no matter how deep my relationship with God gets, I still crave sin the same way I crave risk.
And yet, I know that what I crave is not what my soul needs. Which means I often utilize a little 4 Piece Cheat Sheet to hurl myself towards God, instead of the floor. Completely unbacked by science or even some sort of qualified professional:
1 D I S C O U R S E
When you first step into faith, the communication you have with God is often rough and monosyllabic. I used to get so frustrated with prayer. I figured I wasn’t doing it right. Am I allowed to talk to God when I’m in the shower even though I’m unsheathed? Can I be honest? Or am I supposed to treat this like one of my mother’s fancy dinner parties? Maybe I should strap on some heels so God knows I’m legit?
But I quickly figured out that the only way to talk to God…is to talk to God. And I lean on this habit now, despite my steady discourse with both Him and Jesus.
I encourage you to just straight up call to God. Jump up and down and shout His praise. Thank Him for everything He’s blessed you with. Write Him a letter about how angry you are; how sorry you are. Ask Him for more. Confess your deepest desires. Whisper your sorrows in the middle of the night. Appeal to His relentless mercy, or beg Him to reveal reasoning. Snuggle up to God and divulge your heart to Him.
Go all Nike on the omnipresent being. Just do it.
2 L I S T E N
Once you open up that stream of communication, you might start to finally hear God talking back. God is always speaking to us, or at least attempting to, but we’re so busy we miss it; or we misunderstand. At one point in history the confusion was so great, He had to send His word down in the form of flesh.
You may be thinking: Hey now, I’ve read a few bits of The Bible and God clearly speaks a different language than I do; but alas, that’s the beauty of having a God who never vacillates. In this digital age of unending advancement, anything timeworn tends to feel obsolete. But this is exactly why you want a God who’s unchanging.
John the Beloved, who walked with Jesus and was His beloved (as previously insinuated), makes some really great arguments for why in First John.
As a quick summary statement: God doesn’t need to advance in congruence with the latest smartwatch; He will always know more than your iPhone GPS, (which we all can recognize is terrifyingly aware).
3 W A T C H (Your Soul)
The reason we enter into a relationship with God isn’t so we become perfect. It’s to morph our souls. It’s not about who you are when things are great, but who you remain when things get tough. Which parts of your soul shine through?
Paul exemplifies this in Acts 16:26 – 38, when he and Silas are unfairly locked behind bars. All of a sudden the earth shakes, releasing their jail cells and chains; but despite their newfound freedom Paul and Silas stay put. The men know that, per societal norms, if they were to escape, the guard would have failed, ultimately seeking honorable death as punishment. Paul’s regard for other humans, at this point, far surpasses his own immediate needs.
This isn’t a natural reaction. This is a learned behavior caused by a morphed soul. I encourage you to watch for this in yourself. Honor it when you spot it. Celebrate it!
(Side note: Can we take a minute to appreciate how great it is that, even after he’s legally released by the indebted jailer, Paul refuses to leave quietly. He may be filled with God’s love, but his outburst in Acts 16:37 reveal that he’s still wonderfully arrogant Paul.)
4 L O V E
The final component of this unqualified list has been a tricky one for me, but it’s necessity is exemplified in my (current) favorite, John 4:1-42.
This Samaritan woman is completely smitten with Jesus, ready to listen and follow Him, but when the disciples walk up with disconcerting looks on their faces, she bolts.
We hear it time and time again – Jesus is aiiiight, Christians are so judgey though.
So what is the complex solution? LOVE.
We have this incredible God who’s willing to love us, regardless of how many times we hurl ourselves at sin and split open our souls in the process. It’s His love that stitches us back together again each time. It’s His love that propagates Heaven on earth. And it’s His love that we’re all seeking in one another.
We Christians are about people. Not power, or programs, or cute little sound bites.
How beautiful to have a God who would facilitate such forgiveness, mercy, patience, and love; concepts that are so inconceivable in our current society. Thus proving, once again, that He’s a God outside of time, trends, and human whim. He’s a God “constantly concerned and involved in your life. That is the most emotionally stabilizing force that could ever exist,” (Pastor Judah Smith, my boooiii).
But it’s our job as humans here on earth to act as tangible examples of His love. How else do we show the world how much God really loves them? None of it’s easy, but it’s important, and a huge component of circulating this story of more.
Jordan Cross is a 26-year-old, borderline adult with a boy’s name and a strong penchant for all things basic; e.g. $2 macarons, all things Harry Potter, live music, cold pressed juice, and high intensity spin. Luckily Jesus loves us all unconditionally and it’s her ultimate goal to write about His love and all the revelries this life bestows upon us.
The OG Piece <–