Monday, October 6, 2014

The Flame

I fell in love with Jesus a few months before I turned fifteen. My life radically changed.
Depression and anxiety had ravaged my heart and mind. These struggles did not automatically go away after I encountered Christ, but I did experience a new confidence and joy that changed me.

I eagerly wanted every part of my life to radiate my faith. My high school friends and I memorized chapters of the Bible and held weekly Bible studies and we were so desirous to learn more about the God who made us new. I felt a new and exciting fire.

At times, my zeal tipped over into legalism. For example, I remember studying 1 Thessalonians with a few friends and reading, "Pray without ceasing." We took this at face value and challenged each other to go an entire day without thinking about anything except Jesus. Determined, I took a black Sharpie and scrawled 1 Thessalonians 5:17 onto the back of my hand so that when I rested my arms upon my desk in class, I would remember to pray instead of listen to the teacher. No, this wasn't the healthiest expression of my faith. I was a child sipping milk as I tried to teach myself how to fly an airplane.

But the fire burned bright and I learned so much during those first months and years.

Things were not always easy. There were seasons of drought and desert, when all I felt was an aching thirst that I could not quench... or even worse, apathy where I began to stop thirsting at all. There were storms that caused me to rage and doubt. I strayed and returned; I became impatient and frustrated and stubborn. My emotional highs collapsed and I raged against my old self and even against God.

When the droughts passed away and the rains returned, I learned that my Father is faithful. When the storms stilled, I realized that Christ is more powerful than my worst days. When I stumbled back as a prodigal daughter time and time again, I glimpsed the depths of God's grace.

I'm in my early twenties now and I have very little experience with romantic love. I've never had a boyfriend or even seriously dated. However, I'm at the stage in my life where I am able to watch a few of my dearest friends fall in love and enter into marriage. As I learn from the true and passionate love that I see in my friends and my parents, I cannot help but be reminded about what it is like to have a relationship with Jesus.

My friends who are falling in love for the first time are standing on the heights of the tallest mountains. Their passion is beautiful.

My parents and grandparents have another kind of passionate love that is just as priceless. The longer they experience life together, the further their love is deepened by sacrifice and commitment. "I give my life to you" and "I commit to you even when things are hard" are just as precious as the exciting discovery of new love.

I will admit that there is a different kind of fire for the Lord in me than there was when I was fourteen. Where my faith was once marked by loud and zealous expressions of love, I have a somewhat changing passion now. This passion comes from walking through difficult times as well as happy ones. It comes from broken relationships, plateaus and lonely places, and the increasing knowledge of how vast God's grace actually is. It comes from experiencing valleys and not only mountains.

In some ways, my relationship with Christ is transforming from a new and blazing fire to that of a steady flame. This brings with it the necessity for me to work hard to keep from falling into apathy because I hope I will always seek to be a radical follower of Jesus, but I am thankful.

After all of my mistakes, God's compassion is greater. No matter how far I have run, he has been there. When I'm tired of seeking, still he sings. And now he is teaching me how to experience his love in an enduring, committed way that reaches beyond my changing emotions.

And this love is beautiful.

One year ago: Waging War
Two years ago: The Room
Three years ago: Plus-Sized Mannequins... or Not
Four years ago: Leave an encouraging note on the mirror


  1. I was glad to see this. I like reading about your efforts and progress in learning to follow Jesus.