Sunday, December 28, 2014

Loving Jesus After College

It was my sophomore year of college and I was sitting in leadership when our area director announced to us that in ten years only 1 out of 8 of us would still be following Jesus. Being nineteen and really unsure of how to really follow Jesus anyway, I was sure that I would be one of the seven not chasing after the Lord.

And then one day in September of my junior year of college I was driving with our area director, his wife, and my best friend to a Hillsong concert and he asked us, "How will you make sure that you don't fall away from Jesus after college?" I pondered the question for a little bit and I answered the best way that I knew how, not really sure what he meant and even more unsure of how I planned to do that. My answer was a jumbled mix of continuing my daily disciplines, living in community, and marrying someone else who really loves Jesus. 

There had just been a year between those two instances, but a lot had changed in that one year. If you hung around me in those years, thank you. Thank you for being gracious with me as I learned what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus and thank you to everyone who believed in me, who let me lead Young Life and who hired me to be a summer intern at a Young Life camp. But in that year I went from being the girl who was not quite sure how I could ever follow Jesus after college to being the girl who was absolutely determined that she would love Jesus the rest of her life, no.matter.what.happened and still really unsure how that would ever come to fruition. 

At some point in those college years I developed habits and disciplines that helped me to know Jesus more and changed my heart to always want to know Him. I formed relationships that convinced me of God's immense love for me and that always pushed me closer to Him. I learned so so so much, about myself, about other people, and about the Creator.

At some point I started to think that loving Jesus could never leave me and that my passion for Him would only continue to grow, no matter what happened after college. I thought loving Jesus after college would just be second nature, easy, the normal. 

But today at twenty-three, I would have to say that loving Jesus after college is not always easy or always pretty. It is hard, confusing, and some days a little reckless feeling. But the fight is always good and it is always a fight worthy of being fought.

I have come to know for certain that there is no perfect way to ensure that you still love Jesus when you are retired, or having babies, or even are twenty-three; but I have come to see some things that I am sticking to.

I am going to stick to finding disciplines that will define my life. I've always gone back and forth between the nitty gritty of being disciplined or of being legalistic; I am going to always fight to be disciplined, and never legalistic. Some of my disciplines have changed since college and some have stayed the same; some have gone away all together and some need to come back into my life.

I am going to stick to the early mornings. This isn't for everyone, but it is for me. Being with Jesus in the morning is absolutely what I need to remind myself of how much I need Jesus... and so that I can be a semi-decent, nice human being for the day.

I am going to stick to being mentored. In college my mentor was named Amanda. She is to this day one of the most passionate women I have ever known. She taught me most of anything I know and she taught me most of any discipline I follow. When I moved to Colorado as a year-long intern I had a mentor then too. She taught and is still teaching me about being generous and bold. She loved me and stood beside me through one of the hardest years I have walked through yet. And I am going to continue being mentored because, let's be honest, we all need someone wiser speaking into our lives.

I am going to stick to being in ministry. And I don't necessarily mean always having a career in ministry  or always Young Life. I am going to stick to telling others about Jesus. Today that looks like preparing a place for the gospel to heard and leading Young Life in Grand County. I hope that one day it looks like me leading a college girls Bible study.

I am going to stick to and fight for solitude time. This is something I have never been and still am not good at. It's something I am working to be better at. One step at a time. But I am fighting for time alone, time to be centered, and time to be completely with Jesus. Time that is longer than just an hour before sunrise, but time that is an entire day.

I am going to stick to finding community and embracing vulnerability. I need Jesus and I need other people who love Jesus who will point me to Him. Fighting this fight can be tough and I need people that will fight beside me and will fight for me when I feel like giving up. I don't get to live in a house with 7 other girls anymore, but I still can live in community. And I can be vulnerable and open and cry the ugly cries, because we need that.

I am going to stick to being okay for being different. This isn't easy. And of all of them, this may be the most difficult for me. Being passionate about Jesus and truly following Him makes you different. It means you make different decisions and have a different mindset. It means you pursue holiness and that just certainly isn't the cool thing to do. But I'll do it anyways.

These are just some of the things that I am going to try to stick to. And I probably won't do them all well and at some points maybe not at all. I am going to trust that there is grace for when I fail and for when I feel weak.

But I want to love Jesus forever, so I am going for it. I am fighting the good fight. Because loving Jesus is more than just living in the Christian bubble while you are in college or even the bubble of working at a Young Life camp; it is a way of life. forever.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Holy Snow

My fingertips are pressed up against the keys on a keyboard. Waiting. Waiting for words to come to explain this season. The Christmas tree twinkles in the corner with sparkly and burlap ornaments. And the snow is falling. Gently. In a way that beckons for a stillness of the soul. 

And the words of O Holy Night go through my head over and over and over again. 

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, 
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born.

Not a lot makes sense to me most days anymore. How I ended up in Young Life camping or how I ended up as the housekeeping supervisor at Crooked Creek Ranch. I wish that I could say that I heard the Lord speak directly to me to give me this direction in my life, but I didn't. In many ways, it just happened. 

And that is hard for me some days. I ask myself a lot of questions. I do a lot of self-analysis, trying to figure out why I am where I am and why I feel the way that I do most days. And with many thoughts, there are not a lot of clear cut answers. 

But then one morning I wake up. I wake up to light coming through my window and I am grateful that I forgot to close my blinds the night before. Because snow is falling. And I lay snuggled up between my flannel sheets watching the snow fall gently onto the evergreen trees. Lauren comes in my room to lay on my bed to rejoice in the new snow fall. It is here. The snow has come.

It's been a while since we have had snow. I know that sounds crazy considering I live in the Rocky Mountains and it's December, but it's the truth. There hasn't been much precipitation to be had around here. 

But this morning it came. A whole six inches of it and it hasn't stopped yet. And I am grateful.

Because when the snow is falling the questions stop for just a little bit. Because I am assured that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. My weary soul rejoices when the snow arrives. The snow is indicative of new life. It is indicative of a clean slate. It is Jesus in our place.

"Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be white as snow."
-Isaiah 1:18-

And this morning I am reminded of the holy night. The night that the Savior came. The night that brought Hope to the weary world. The night that still gives me hope. 

Because in that night a baby was born. His name was Immanuel, God with us. He came to save the world. He was the thrill of hope. And He is still my thrill of hope. The hope that lets the questions settle and all my thoughts return to Jesus. He is the One who stills my soul, who is doing a good work inside of me, and who has saved me. He is the grace that covers all of our imperfections. And for that I fall on my knees; He is good.