I’ve believed in Jesus my whole life.
There have been times I’ve been more or less into it, but God has always been the center of my life. He was my savior, my worldview, my role model, my decision maker, and my truth. All I did was filtered through a true “What would Jesus do”. I wanted my entire life to be one of service, one of the Kingdom, and one of Jesus. With the incredible sacrifice He gave and the truth of the Gospel and the cross, what else could I do? His love for me gave me the greatest gift. My life was to do all I could for Him.
Going to church, leading a life group, working in a ministry, and volunteering with non profits. I want people to know of Jesus’ death and life! I want to use the gifts he has given me!
Turning 30, I was in the sweetest spot. I had transitioned into a marketing consultant role, and kept saying “I’m using all the gifts God has given me and made in me! This is awesome!” I had that feeling fluttering in my soul that I was doing it right. I was serving, I was connecting, I was helping. His work- what a joy.
But after my first son was born, I couldn’t keep up. It was hard to work when I was needed by my newborn. I was extremely frustrated when meetings wouldn’t go well, when childcare wasn’t simple, and when my hours were spent doing simple tasks of feeding and diapers instead of kingdom-changing things.
On Tuesday I stepped back from my largest client, and on Thursday the other ministry I was working with let me go. I had no job, no income, no way to use my gifts. As if I wasn’t already confused, this one really threw me for a loop. Wasn’t the whole point of life to serve God? Wasn’t I alive to use my gifts for his kingdom? Wasn’t I helping people hear about Jesus? How could sitting at home, unemployed, and caring for my baby be “more important” than all of that other stuff? Why would God make everything stop? When all of this change happened, I was confused on who I was and what mattered to God.
Around that time, I saw people posting about Lent starting. Lent is a 40 day time frame before Easter where you “fast” from something in your life in preparation to celebrate God’s resurrection. I had never done Lent or given up anything, but I was intrigued at the idea. I had a small feeling of guilt around how much pointless pop culture I consumed each week (podcasts and TV shows), and wondered what it would be like to give that up for 40 days. Would that make a difference?
I picked up a book that sat on my shelf that I had never opened. “A Call to Die” by David Nasser had the tagline “a 40 day journey of fasting from the world and feasting on God”. On March 6th 2019, I signed my name on the first page and made this commitment to God - “For the next 40 days, I will spend time with you every day. I will stop listening to my pop culture podcasts for these 40 days, and instead fill myself with more time with you”.
I never spent time WITH God regularly. I was more focused on the doing, not just sitting and reading. Who has time for that? I know the story of Jesus and what the Bible says- so alone time with God or “quiet time" was always boring or obligatory to me. Going into these 40 days, I was hopeful that it would feed different, but I was skeptical. Honestly I was so desperate to know why what God was up to and why my life sucked so bad that I was willing to try anything. Maybe at the end of these 40 days I would get an awesome job offer? Maybe God would show me why he had to take everything away and a sweet ministry or project would be waiting for me at the end? SHOW ME WHAT TO DO, GOD!
Day after day, I would sit and read through the book. I would pick up my Bible and read the verses that were mentioned, I think it was the first time in my life I actually followed through for 40 days in a row. Some of the words felt like new life, and some of them felt like things I had heard before. But during this time, God taught me a game-changing concept- being HUNGRY & THIRSTY for Him.
One of the lessons mentioned Matthew 5:6 - “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”. The author opened with saying “You are an the banquet table of God’s presence and truth, but too often you are so full of junk that you’re not hungry. In actuality, spiritually, you are starving to death. You have settled for garbage instead of feasting on the nourishment God richly provides”
My life was always fun, my schedule was always full, and my commitments to serve and give were plentiful. I had filled myself and my life with Christian stuff- Christians sermons, Christian friends, Christian podcasts, Christian books. I was never hungry. If you looked at my calendar and how I spent my time- you would know I was a Christian! But it turned out, I was missing the most important thing. I wasn’t spending time WITH God, I was doing things FOR Him. I wasn’t hungry for Him, I was already stuffed full with life, enjoyment, and Christian stuff. When I took pop culture and business out of my life and purposefully started “eating” time with God instead, I began to understand what it meant to be hungry for God. I was reading my Bible and really enjoying it. I was praying and wanting to hear from God. I wanted more.
This transformation of my relationship with God reminded me a lot of marriage. It was as though I was married to Caleb, but never spent time with Caleb. I read books about Caleb, I got together with other people who also loved Caleb, I served Caleb and did things for him, I talked to others about how awesome Caleb was, BUT I NEVER SPENT TIME WITH CALEB. Could you imagine a relationship like that? That was me and God! I loved him, I served him, I learned about him from other people, I talked to friends about him, but I wasn’t hanging out with Him. I didn’t really KNOW him and interact with Him personally. I wasn’t hungry for it.
As Lent ended, something new started in me. There was no job offer or cool opportunity, but I wanted more of God, and for the first time in my life I was enjoying being with God. Each day since, I have prioritize hanging out with God (reading my Bible, praying, and worship). It was become something I look forward to in my day, not because a commitment, discipline, or needing to do it, but because my body and soul are hungry for it. In the same way my stomach growled around noon for lunch, my soul began to growl.
A few months later, I would write this in my journal “Spending time with you is the best part of my life, God. It’s better than parties, better than adventures, better than a fulfilling job, and better than my own son. It’s amazing” The more time I spend with God, the more he teaches me, the more I know Him, the more I hear Him, the more I want. I keep looking around at my friends, my family, and my church and thing to myself “Do other people know this? Is anyone else experiencing this?" THERE IS SO MUCH MORE TO JESUS THAN I THOUGHT! There is fulfillment, a deep joy, and a purpose in life.
My relationship with God isn’t just about salvation. Do you know the word “Eternal Life” in the Bible is a Greek word ZOE? We talk about eternal life all the time- that God gave us his son so we can have it, and that it’s the “goal” of our relationship with God- that he gets us into heaven. While ZOE does mean our eternal life in heaven, it also means a deep, meaningful, purpose filled, satisfied life, right here on earth. As I re-read the Bible and see God promising eternal life in our relationship with Him, I’m realizing that I have access to that RIGHT NOW. As I hunger and thirst for him, as I spend time with him, as I am connected to him every day, I am filled with a meaningful and full life. On earth as it is in heaven.
I’m the least busy I’ve ever been. I’m not really commitment to much, not scoring awesome clients or being a part of “using my gifts” in the ways I always have. Right now my life is slower and sweeter, and I’m still at the beginning of this journey with God. I read Luke 10:38-42 a few months ago, the story of Mary and Martha, and I can’t do anything but learn more about these 5 small verse. I can’t move on. I can’t get up and do anything yet. God prefers sitting and hanging out with him over serving him. I’ve spent many years serving, but now instead in sitting.
I look at everything different now. I sit at church and think “Are these people next to me experiencing this closeness with God?” I’ll be with a group of Christian friends and wonder “Do they know about how awesome life is with God as you hang out with him more?” I’ll listen to a podcast with two Christian leaders and think “Do they delight in alone time with God? Do they know how good it can be?”
I want everyone to experience this. His ZOE life, his incredible word and teaching, and the freaking awesome relationship that is interactive and personal with the creator of the universe. What a gift.