As with anything that you love, there are always leaders, experts, role models, creative geniuses, etc. to look up to right? You know, that rock star, author, actress, athlete, or artist that you just idolize because that thing you love and admire happens to be the thing they are really good at.
So, the Christian world works similarly. Jesus and living life the way He called us to is a passion of mine. Of course, I have some modern day heroes of the faith. I have many times dreamed up what I would say if I ran into Matt Chandler, John Piper, Jeff Vanderstelt, or Jennie Allen in a coffee shop. How I would stop by their table, and pour out my heart, with tears in my eyes, because these people would GET me. I could tell Matt Chandler how we were in the same Abnormal Psych class back at good old Hardin-Simmons, and how I went to hear him preach a few times and he scared me to death (even though I thought he was super entertaining and hilarious) and how I eventually ended up at The Village Church, which began a series of steps God used to turn me upside down. If I had the chance to tell Jeff Vanderstelt how he preached one time about the love of the Father, and he prayed a prayer over the crowd and God finally clicked something in my heart that day, and everything changed. Truthfully, if I ran into John Piper, I probably would not get past hello because the man is just far too brilliant and what could I possibly say to him? I already know what would happen if I ran into my BFF, Jen Hatmaker: I apparently just apologize for stalking her and blather like an idiot for a few seconds until she needs to hug the next neck in line.
(Can I just insert a little side note here? Oh, you know by now. I can’t stop with the side notes. But, have you ever taken a few minutes to read some of the comments that women leave on Jen Hatmaker’s posts? They range from outright worship, to flattery, to sheer hate. Some of them turn my stomach. What it must be like to maintain both humility and grace from that pedestal, I have no idea. I pray for her strength and adherence to truth frequently. #bless)
I love me some Christian leaders like some people love the Kardashians. (Who? WHO? Who is actually keeping up with these people? I digress…)
So have I mentioned that time I got to hang out with Jennie Allen?
If you are a Christian woman and do not know who Jennie is, I just do not know how to help you. Please keep up with the times. I’m kidding. Sort of. Jennie has written multiple books and studies and is the founder/BOSS of IF:Gathering. Google away.
Last spring, I recruited a clutch of new friends in my little corner of the world. I met all of these lovely ladies through hosting our IF: Local. I carefully placed the bait. I invited them to accompany me to the big town of Paris, TX and attend a conference at the church of my youth and hear our hero of the faith speak in person. They bought it, hook, line, and sinker. We took a little road trip and…ta-da! THIS happened.
SOMEHOW (thank you, Leah), we ended up sitting around a restaurant table with an exhausted Jennie Allen and her sisters for a very late dinner. I even ate some of her food. It was totally surreal, people.
I finally had my chance. I told Jennie how reading her book, Anything, was a total game changer for me. I prayed the prayer she describes in the book, a prayer of total surrender to God’s work and His plan for my life. I told her how my moms group went through this book together and how some of us began these journeys of abandon. I told her that if it wasn’t for God using this book to wake me up, I would not have my second child.
And then she told me I was weird.
I can’t even make this stuff up. Okay, so I think her actual words may have been something like, “Now THAT is weird.” But you get the idea. And it WAS. It is totally weird as a human person to have another human person hold that much influence in your life. I would imagine that for the truly wise person, the pedestal is actually a scary place to be.
Truly, my feelings were not hurt. I could only laugh about it because I knew that Jesus must be having a good chuckle about it too. And just like ALL THE OTHER THINGS, He had something to show me about myself in this scenario. Here I was, having the moment I’d been dreaming of. (Although, I will admit that in my dreams, she and I were having coffee together in a cute coffee house some morning and hashing out all of the deep things that I wrestle with most days.)
God reminded me of a problem of mine that I already knew about. You see, I have this tendency to love Christian culture a little too much. I can love a church, preachers, speakers, worship leaders, music, writers, missional communities, theology, buildings, books, ideas, programs, missions, and even God’s own people more than I love God himself. I spend all my time chasing and idolizing these beautiful things and people, whom I am called to love, and can completely miss the God of the universe, whom I was made to worship. This is actually a very serious, even dangerous problem.
It was like God was shouting at me. “You can’t chase after all of my things and bypass Me completely! It all leads to the very same death.”
You see, praying that tremendously scary “Anything” prayer and chasing after God’s plan for my life led to some of highest highs I’ve ever known. Period. And just like the addict, or the thrill-seeker, I want more. So I start dreaming up my big ideas and doing all The Doing, you know what I mean? Except that I find that chasing the highs and the Big God Moments and the glorious work can lead to empty. It leads to the same places where all the rock stars end up, if we don’t abide in Him.
There was a group of people chasing Jesus around because he had physically fed them. They had gotten a taste of His goodness and were consumed now with chasing the taste. He gave them the illustration of being The Bread of Life, of not hungering and thirsting after things that won’t satisfy.
Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:28-29 ESV
That is it. It’s so simple, right? So much work, except not. All of my doing The Doing, and Jesus tells this dry and hungry crowd just to believe in Him.
There was a single word I was given at IF: Gathering 2015. It was the word that was (unbeknownst) prayed for me by a feisty group of prayer warriors and it was the word I chose to write on my stone: REMAIN. We’ve got to remain in Him. The end result of anything else is catastrophic.
Will you do this for me? In just a couple of weeks, I’ll be traveling to Orlando for the IF: Local Leaders Conference with a pair of the finest friends I have. Can you pray for us? Actually, pray for all those awesome ladies that will be assembling. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit would show up and move amongst us in massive, mighty ways, as ONLY HE can do. Pray that the name of Jesus would be made great and that every heart would long for Him and not the approval or power of human beings. Pray that we could let our fearless leaders be just people. Let us be a generation of women chasing after the King, rather than the rock stars.