Part 1 is here
So, here I am at missions college. . . (12 years ago) Surrounded by people from many different denominational mindsets. I was one of those renegade west coast hippy people (really I wasn't - but for many midwesters I was). Anyway, I spend my first year getting good grades, reading all sorts of stories of 'faithful' Christians (aka missionaries). And I am part of a class of about 50 other students, many of whom are very passionate and gung-ho (a mixture of legalism and true desire to hang out with Jesus). Many decided to get together early in the morning to 'seek' God and ask for 'revival. I like the idea - though I was so not a morning person that it just didn't happen too much. We were required to attend church every Sunday - we had to sign a form - as though we weren't already. . . So, I start attending a small lively group called 'The Gathering'. I didn't really get to know anyone there other than a few people who made an effort, but it didn't matter. . . I just cried through the whole thing anyway. Holy Spirit was busy softening my heart.
We constantly heard stories of these great 'men and women of God' who would wake up early in the morning seeking God. Obviously, I figure I should try that out. . . During this year which included working on campus in the kitchen cooking - (which I loved as we were free to dance around and listen to happy music and work with fun people) we also were required to go out on 'Christian service' once a week to evangelise the pagans. . . I chose the "coffee shop ministry" - ha ha ha.
We then had to go on a three week umm missions trip. I chose Scotland. It stemmed from seeing firsthand the damage that had been done in the name of religion (the division of families - protestant and catholic). Really I had no clue what I was doing, but I'd always wanted to go there. No one else was interested in going there so I was happy to go alone. Nothing there worked out the way I expected. I felt so obligated to "do minisitry" and it never worked out - I ended up reading Merlin Carothers praise books every day instead. I got to visit with amazing people and there were some powerful healing "coincidences" relating to my messed up relationship when I was in England. . . And then I took my 2 weeks vacation time to meet up with some friends throughout England after visiting Scotland. Somehow, in London, I found myself at this small bible study with a few friends. It was very laid back and all I really remember is this couple from Germany who prayed for me and the girl had a picture of me sitting in a tree reading a book. And she said that the Lord was saying,'Stop worrying about the fruit. It will come. Just relax.'
A few weeks later I arrive back at College. I find myself yearning for something more. Something I can't put my finger on. The person who I was partially in a relationship in with recommended that I do more church stuff to satisfy that longing. I was totally repulsed by that idea. It was so opposite of what my heart was longing for. I just wanted Him. So, here is where everything started changing in my mind. . . I tended to go through months of melancholy and futility and I would go and ask for prayer, to no avail. Well, there was a missions conference at the beginning of the 2nd year. We were required to go. One fellow speaking there was weepy all the time. He had done some messed up things, causing great pain to his family and God had totally brought him to a place of utter humility. . . He said one thing that stuck me. 'You can know all about God, but do you know Him?'
I started trying so hard to have 'quiet times'. It generally didn't work. I got pretty bored. I tried getting up early to be a holy prayer warrier. That didn't work either. It was rather frustrating. I would also try asking Him for things if I did something for him. Thought that might get Him to do things for me. It started to occur to me that He didn't work that way. This first semester was interesting. I started wondering what Jesus really did for me. I started asking a few people I respected about the cross and what Jesus really accomplished. What it all really meant. I was also doing a self lead class that included reading C.S Lewis books and Francis Schaeffer's trilogy: The God Who is there; Escape from Reason; He is there and He is not silent. Reading Schaeffer reasonings did something to me. All of a sudden it all made sense to me. I was convinced that God was truly real in a way that I had always struggled with. At the same time I was in another class where I was supposed to learn how to evangelise on the 'mission field'. And I found myself feeling so inadequate. I started feeling paranoid of falling into grave error. Even to the point of wanting to quit college. My dad (who was a pastor) was not adverse to the idea and said he would enjoy having me work alongside him in the ministry. I felt honored at that. I had also been encourage by him and another teacher and others that I should go onto seminary and become a teacher etc. . . I was flattered, but the desire was waning.
So. . . Christmas time. I was supposed to write a massive essay for my self lead class. Being that I had little self discipline I had gotten an extension. I got sick. Very sick. Asked for another extension upon returning to school. I was not premitted another one and received an F. I was stunned - I had been getting top grades there. 15 minutes after receiving the news it suddenly occurred to me that it was all so foolish - this grade thing. . . And one verse started going around in my head, 'Lean not on your own understanding. . .' I was starting to see how I didn't think all that much of God, that I took Him for granted. So, early 2nd semester I found myself at another conference where everyone who was willing to lay down their lives for God in missionary work was told to go to the front. Ooh, I did not like that! Obviously all 100's of students rushed forward. I took the path least trodden and went in the opposite direction - out the building. I was very disturbed and upset. The next day during a rather monotonous 'chapel time' sermon I heard God distinctly impress upon me, 'Don't you think that I know better?!' It was quite a revelation for my ignorant little mind. I liked it.
One day, soon after those experiences I found myself with a good friend, admitting and seeing how much I lived for the attention of others. The way I dressed. The way I put make-up on. The way I acted. It was actually quite powerful, as I hadn't realized so clearly my motives. Three days later I was invited out by a newer acquaintance ( a fellow named Dan, who was a very strong, charismatic and opionated person) to go to Denny's. This invitation was VERY unlike him, as he was very much an adherent to the school rules and would never have gone out just minutes before the curfew. He invited myself and a mutual friend Ryan. How could I say no. It sounded like fun. So, we end up at a 24 hour restaurant called Ember's downtown. It was late and there were many unique people - prostitutes, cross dressers, post clubbers. . . The whole downtown gambit.
And it was there, sitting at that table with Dan and Ryan, that I finally saw my Saviour. Dan started drawing out on a napkin what he and 2 other friends were seeing the other night. That what Jesus had done for us was like a tunnel of light that has no end. And that when we believed in Jesus we were immediately transferred into that eternal tunnel of light. And that that tunnel consisted of everything Jesus had done. And that we, because we were "partakers of His divine nature" naturally partook of eveything that Jesus did. That Jesus was the 'author and finisher of out faith'. That we no longer had to try to be Holy because Jesus was Holy and we had everything Jesus has. That we didn't have to work at being good Christians cause we were by very merit of being IN the finished work of Jesus. We started speaking things that Paul and Jesus spoke without even realizing that we were saying verses. It was stemming entirely from the revelation that Jesus had done everything for us and we received our entire identity from everything Jesus did. I remember writing on the napkins there: Holy. Free. Pure. It was in those moments that the depression/melancholy I struggled with since I was 13 was GONE. My fear of death was GONE. I had tasted what Jesus had truly done and was FREE. I knew that I could go anywhere and be fine, for Jesus had already gone ahead and accomplished it all for me. And the funny thing was we were all saying, 'Why do we know this? We don't deserve this. We are some of the laziest people around' No longer did I have any fear of false doctrine. No longer did I need to strive.
And as the days passed the revelation of what Jesus did intensified. We were all in the same Roman's class. And we happened to be reading Romans 6,7 and 8 and we got together and read it out loud and could not get over what Paul was talking about. We would read it over and over and over. There were many times that we were actually physically bent over from the revelation of what Jesus had done and who we were. There was a mixed reaction there on the campus. Some people were so interested in why we were so different and excited and as we shared they could hear and receive. And there were others who were concerned that we were 'Cultish'. . . And it began to occur to us that 'Study to show thyself approved' had been totally misinterpreted. And we saw that we did not have to be at the college anymore to learn how to be good Christians and take tests on theology and bible verses. We knew that it all came down to Jesus.
It was then that I saw so clearly that the vast majority of "churches" aka gatherings were built upon faulty foundations of works and strivings instead of the finished work of Jesus. That most christians were trying to work from the outside in instead of the inside out. Like trying to dig their way to get to the finished work of Jesus. Which is virtually impossible as no one can do it! People need to know that Jesus has done it all for us! There is a deception. . . And this deception is a nasty virus that consumes people's lives when they should be revelling in the love of God. This is my hearts consuming passion. To see people come to the revelation that Jesus blood is ENOUGH. That IT IS FINISHED. That we NO LONGER have to STRIVE to be what we ALREADY ARE. That the intense overwhelming love of God is so manifested in the CROSS of JESUS CHRIST. Taken care of. Totally perfected. Totally free to enter the Holy of Holies. Based on the merit of Jesus OUR LIFE.
And off we went into the sunset. . . (or to be continued another day)
P.S. I did end up marrying Dan :)
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