This thing called “life”? I’ve been doing it for nearly thirty-two years now, and I’ve only just realized that I’ve been doing it WRONG.
From the outside looking in, I think most would say that I’ve got it together, for the most part. I have a wonderful husband and two sweet, crazy boys. I am a teacher in an incredible school district and I love the kids I work with there, and they even granted me a year of maternity leave to stay home and raise my boys. In the last year, I’ve published five books for children and young adults with a company called Clean Reads, with my sixth book due to release next month, just in time for my first ever book signing at Barnes and Noble. I am, for lack of a less-cliché word, BLESSED.
As for all those blessings in my life? I used to think they happened BECAUSE of me. But I’ve come to realize that they happened IN SPITE OF me.
I grew up in church and professed Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior when I was only eight years old. After repeating a prayer with the pastor of the church I attended at the time and being baptized there, I was proclaimed to be SAVED. But even though I truly did believe in Jesus, that He died for my sins and rose from the grave, I had no idea what it meant to really be a BELIEVER. Because a true believer knows that it’s not enough to simply believe in Jesus.
I tend to compartmentalize my life, as I believe many people do. Picture a chest of drawers. Even though your t-shirt drawer and your sock drawer are right beside each other, you don’t mix the two. Your t-shirts stay in their respect drawer and your socks in theirs. I figured if you could look in at my soul, you would see a chest of drawers. In one drawer, I have my husband and kids. In another, I have my teaching job. In another, my writing. After sorting through several others, you would find Jesus.
Granted, sometimes my drawers spill over into each other a little. When they begin to get full, it’s inevitable. But all in all, I managed to keep each section of my life in its appropriate drawer.
Over the last few years, I came to realize that I had given Jesus one of the smallest drawers in my life. And I kept him tucked away, making sure He didn’t spill out into some of the other drawers. He could come into some of them – I let him in with my husband and kids fairly often. I even let him in with my teaching job from time to time. Once in a while, he popped in my writing drawer. But I made sure that when I was done with Him, He went right back to His spot.
I knew something in my life wasn’t right, so I decided to give Him a bigger drawer. I took on a position as a youth leader in my church. I started carving out ten minutes before bed to study my Bible each night. I began to listen to Christian music on the radio some. And for a while, I fooled myself into believing I was doing it right.
But one night, I came across a verse in the Bible that made me uncomfortable. In Revelation 3:16, Jesus says, “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” That word, “lukewarm.” For a while, I just kind of stared at it, until it jumped off the page and slapped me across the face. Usually, when I would read verses that made me feel uncomfortable, I tried to just slip over them and quickly push them out of mind. But that word gripped me.
Lukewarm: neither cold nor hot. Halfhearted. Unenthusiastic.
That was EXACTLY the kind of Christian I had become. I believed in Jesus, I believed that He died for my sins and that He conquered death. But I wasn’t excited about it.
And right then and there, I realized that if I were to die at that very moment and had to face Jesus, he would vomit me out of His mouth. “Depart from Me – I never knew you” would be the words I would hear when I faced the One I claimed to love.
My heart literally skipped a couple beats, then kicked into overtime to make up for it. As I sat there, my palms growing sweaty with my heart pulsing out of my neck, I knew I had it all wrong for so many years. Somehow, I’d managed to forget that feeling I had gotten when I was only eight years old, that feeling that made me give my life to Jesus in the first place. I had fallen out of love with Him.
But I didn’t know what to do about it. What do you say to God when you realize you’re not truly one of His children?
So, I did the only thing I could: I dropped to my knees in the middle of my living room and I begged Him to help me fix it. I pleaded for the Holy Spirit to fill me and make me into the one He wants me to be.
When I finished praying, unsure of what do next, I opened my Bible and landed in 1 Corinthians. When I read Paul’s words in 15:31 – “I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily” – I realized that was exactly what I needed to do. It wasn’t enough to give my life to Him one time when I was just a kid…it was something I would have to do EVERY SINGLE DAY. If I didn’t “die daily” to myself and ask Him to be the center of my life each and every day, my old ways would take over once again. And Jesus would become just another drawer in my life.
When I finally let the Holy Spirit fill me, those drawers were ripped open. The truth is, when Jesus is at the center of your life, He can’t help but to spill out into all those other drawers. And those drawers I tried to keep Him out of? He’s cleaning them out, which is exactly how it should be. It’s not that everything is perfect. Sometimes, the old me tries to step in and pull one of those old drawers shut once again, locking him out. And I have to die to myself all over again.
So as for this whole blogging thing – something I’ve done sporadically at best – I’m taking it in another direction. I was encouraged to start one before my first novel released last year, but lacked the passion and the drive to write on it regularly. But that was before I learned to die daily and fall in love with Jesus again. With Him in the center of my life, how can He not be at the center of my writing, too?
I’d like to share my journey with Him through this blog – not only because I want to share Him with others, but also because there may be someone else out there who can identify with my victories and struggles. In this selfie-obsessed world, there is so much pressure to present yourself at your very best. But I believe in the idea of transparency, and I am going to do my best to share the truth each week, according to how God presents it to me. So, I’m inviting anyone who reads this to die daily with me and live a life that is no longer lukewarm.