I was leading a youth event this weekend (post on that to come as soon as my brain wakes up enough to write it) and as we were sitting in worship on Saturday night i picked up my journal and started to write. The speaker was talking about Paul, and focusing in particular on this really awesome passage in Acts where Paul and Silas are going around preaching the gospel when this slave girl who works as a fortune teller starts following them around shouting that they were servants of God. After days of this, Paul gets so annoyed with her that he turns around and casts out the spirit of divination that’s in her. I love this picture so much. Paul gets ANNOYED and casts out a DEMON! I get annoyed and flip someone off or lash out at my husband or, at my very best, go in my room and scream into a pillow. But not Paul. He gets annoyed and uses his anger to bring glory to God. As if that’s not cool enough on its own, He gets thrown into prison for it so that even cooler things can happen.
So he’s just chilling there, in prison, “praying and singing hymns to God,” when suddenly an earthquake comes along and causes the doors to open and all of the prisoners to become unshackled. When the jail keeper woke up and realized what had happened, he draws his sword to kill himself because the prisoners escaped on his watch. But Paul’s voice stops him short. “Do not harm yourself,” he says, “for we are all here.”
ARE YOU GETTING THIS?! They were ALL there. It’s insane already that Paul and Silas didn’t escape, but what’s absolutely crazy is that ALL THE OTHER PRISONERS stayed with them. They were so captivated by Paul’s message, so captivated by JESUS, that they would rather stay in his presence even if it meant staying in prison. When the guard sees this, he too comes to a saving knowledge of Christ. (I imagine God dropping the mic and walking off the stage at this point.)
But y’all, I would have LEFT. I could have been in the middle of praying with someone, but when those doors busted open I would have jolted. I love Paul. I love his letters, I love his character, and I love his story of redemption. But I also envy the dude. I want to love Jesus the same way he does. I want to have that level of surrender. I want to have peace in Christ regardless of what’s happening around me.
So I was thinking all of these same thoughts on Saturday night when I picked up my pen. And for the rest of the sermon time, these words flew onto my paper. They just happened, seemingly of their own accord. But they are my truth. God revealed my own heart to me through words that he had me write. OH MY GOODNESS, what an awesome, faithful, creative, magnificent, merciful, inspiring, incomprehensibly good God we serve!
Here’s what happened:
WHY CAN’T I BE LIKE PAUL?!?!
Why can’t I get over myself for exactly one minute?
I’m supposed to have peace in all situations, but I fail at that.
I FAIL at having peace.
It’s not even that I don’t trust God to be enough. It’s that I don’t want him to be. I DO trust him, but I’m selfish first. I want to need more than him and outside of him. Better clothes, a better marriage, more friends, more money, more talent.
Better. Better. More. More. More.
I want to justify my strivings. I want to justify my crappy attitude when I don’t get these things. I want to call them needs, and I expect Jesus to get on board with that. As long as I have the means to get what I want, I think it’s okay to decide that my wants are necessities – and that my “necessities” can then dictate my joy and my peace.
I’m so freaking entitled.
Oh and by the way, I can temporarily put these priorities over the Lord, because DUH, I can’t have peace until I get them.
I AM HONESTLY SO FULL OF MYSELF THAT IT’S RIDICULOUS!
Oh I preach a big game, though…
Don’t put Jesus in a box…
Unless you NEED to.
Just this month
Just this week
Just this one time.
But “NEED” is NOT subjective.
Not if you believe the Bible is true.
I NEED JESUS
I NEED JESUS
I NEED JESUS
I only need him
I don’t need a husband.
I don’t need a job.
Or a home
Something can be good and Godly and right and that still doesn’t mean I necessarily should have it. And it doesn’t mean that I’m promised it.
I’m promised Jesus.
I only need him.
Even in nothing, I can be content. Because HE is everything.
And so I can have peace. I can be like Paul.
I won’t. I will fail.
But I can.
I believe that I will.
Thanks for reading the inside of my brain. I know it’s a mess in there!!
PS – I LOVE YOUR THOUGHTS! Please share them with me 🙂