Growing up in a Christian home, church and God have always been part of my life. As far back as I can remember, attending church was regular and routine.
Living a regular and routine Christian life is a large part of my story. That is, until God, who is far from regular and routine, got ahold of me and turned my world upside down.
Growing in a relationship with Jesus doesn’t just happen. It takes decision and effort on our part. And as we partner with Him, He weaves together seemingly unrelated events to grow us, such as job changes, some wanted, others not; walking with good friends as not one but two of their children lost the battle of terminal illness; working with high school students, learning to love them as my own and seeing their real life hurts.
And He’s used people, good friends, to challenge and encourage me to participate in a Bible class, or read a book, and simply live all out for Jesus everyday.
These are just a few examples of how God has encouraged and pushed me out of the safe, routine, and ordinary, into what may seem like an upside down kind of adventure. But I wouldn’t want to go back to my regular and routine life for anything!
It wasn’t like I was living a life away from God; I was just playing it safe. I would hear my Christian friends pray and think, “Wow, I wish I could pray like that.” Their talks with God seemed real, honest, and heartfelt.
When I talked to God, it was simply something I knew I was supposed to do. Relationships are a two-way street, but mine was pretty much one-sided. I would tell God what I needed or wanted, and then try to figure out how I could make those things happen.
“Break my heart for what breaks Your heart, God.”
The first time I heard this prayer, it resonated in my spirit and I desperately wanted to echo the words. But I also wanted to mean them, if and when I said those words . . . and my heart just wasn’t ready.
Thankfully God knows our hearts, and slowly but surely, through some of the events above and the encouragement of a good friend, He brought me to the place where I honestly prayed those few simple words: “Break my heart, God, for what breaks Yours.”
The words themselves weren’t magic: rather, they were an external expression of the internal transformation He’d begun within me.
I was willing to surrender to His lordship,
willing to share in His heartbreak and joy over His children,
willing to sacrifice my time, energy, and resources to follow His call.
Little did I know the impact that prayer would have on my life.
Ever so gently, God began to answer my prayer.
I began seeing people all around me who needed Jesus, just as much as I did. I began to hunger for the Word of God. I began reading and studying Scripture, as well as writings from Christian authors. Praying those few simple words from an open and honest heart flipped the switch and turned my life upside down.
God continually speaks to me through John 21:15-17.
“So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?
He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’
He said to him, ‘Tend My lambs.’
He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’
He said to him, ‘Shepherd My sheep.’
He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’
Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’
And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things: You know that I love You.’
Jesus said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’”
I have no doubt God has called me to share my faith, my journey, and the lessons He is teaching me with others. As a follower of Jesus, I am called to feed His sheep.
So I am learning to be open, honest, and vulnerable with my struggles, challenges, and convictions. And believe me, there have been plenty!
Life with Jesus is a journey.
There will be ups and downs along the way, but every single one has a purpose, and if we allow them, they will draw us deeper and deeper into a growing and vibrant relationship with our Savior.
Never again do I want to live a regular and routine life; I am all in on my upside down adventure with Jesus!
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