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Bravery, Balloons, and an Invitation

"Someone asked me what I would write if I only had six words for my autobiography. Here's what I came up with: What if we weren't afraid anymore?" 
- Bob Goff #everybodyalways

When I first started pouring my life out in written form all those years ago, I was too wounded to worry about it much. At that point, I did not feel I had much to lose. Standing where I was standing, I couldn't see how the world could have any more to gain than they would find in Jesus. I paid no mind to how crazy I must have seemed, never gave the critics a second thought, and did what I needed to do to find peace enough for the day. My time with Jesus was at the keyboard with an open Bible. Praise music loud in my ears, drowning out every other thought, healing came. One blog entry at a time, it seemed, healing came.

I realize that's a weird way to have a quiet time with Jesus and an even weirder way to process loss.

I am weird, so it made perfect sense to me.

Somewhere along the line, I kept the Bible in my quiet time and pushed the keyboard aside. When healing came, when I took up my mat and walked again, if you will, joy wasn't the only thing that made a comeback. Pride came, too. Isn't it odd how we get a little cocky and start believing we are big stuff when our father is holding onto our bicycle seat? "Oh yeah. I got this. I'm not going to fall. I'm going to go faster. I don't need anybody's help. Just watch me go...." Right up until the point we fall, we take what we cried for and fly with it.

I did that for a long time - too long, if you must know.

With every prompting to pour out what He was teaching me again, I threw excuses over my shoulder as I pedaled on. All too soon, I forgot how faithfully God had used our story - the story He has written and we never would have - for His glory. I became too concerned with guarding my heart, keeping pace with the world, and clawing my way back to ordinary. At no point did I stop crediting God for the miracles we had seen. At no point did I forget who I belonged to or how much I owed to Him. 

What I forgot was how to be responsible with what I had been given. I forgot how to be selfless in my pursuit of making disciples in this limited time I have been given. I forgot how to love like I had been loved. I got really afraid of being misunderstood or deemed crazy by those who wouldn't be able to understand. I tried my best to hide and lay low, to not rock the boat, but to just quietly follow this God of mine without making too many waves or getting too hurt again.

When I read about the Apostle Paul's sufferings in 2 Corinthians, my mind is blown by the way he was tormented in this life for the gospel. He, too, admitted he must have sounded like a madman. He was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, lost at sea, in danger with robbers, with his own people, in the wilderness, hungry, thirsty, sleepless, cold, and exposed. It was the cost of the call. 

"Who is weak and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and the Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying."
2 Corinthians 11:29-30

Can I confess something? I held too low a view of what being a follower of Jesus looks like for a really long time. I wrongly looked at some of the leaders I had seen, bowed to their human example, and thought that surely, when I had arrived, when I was living the most Godly life I could possibly live, I would be smooth, wealthy, aloof, well-spoken, and keep folks at arm's reach. I would somehow have influence for the Kingdom without getting my hands dirty. I wouldn't lose my cool and my makeup would stop melting right off my face in the middle of worship. I would learn to behave myself. I would grow up and get it together and then God could use me. 

Well, friends, I don't know what kind of example you are looking to or if your perspective is as cloudy and misinformed as mine was, but I am here to tell you - that is a lie from the pit of hell itself. Open your Bible and really look at the ones who wholeheartedly followed the Lord. They are the examples to follow. You'll have to look mighty hard to find anybody that remotely meets the description above. You will notice that just about every person Jesus used was a bit of wreck when He showed up. In His presence, they could not hold it together. They were never meant to. Anything that looked like a treasure to them before looked like rubbish once they'd seen His face.

"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not have a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith - that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead."
Philippians 3:7-11

My children are treasures to me. My marriage is a treasure to me. My home, my friends and loved ones, my possessions - they're all dear to me. But what happened in 2007 was that my eyes were forever opened to the reality that we are not guaranteed another day on this earth and when our time here on earth is through, there is so much more to this story. When Jesus Christ comes to make all things new, love and people are the only treasures that will last. I can be afraid now or I will inevitably be afraid then.

"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "The dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new," Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end."
Revelation 21:3-6

Standing there watching eleven balloons floating into the heavens with the eyes of my children gazing at them intently until long after they were out of sight, it reverberated in my heart that this world only has so much hope to offer. It only goes so far. What I want for those children and what I want for every person I know is to have a hope that lasts. No matter where you are standing: if the birthday girl's chair is empty, if the scan lights up with cancer, if the bank account is negative again, if your husband never comes home, if you've fallen back off the wagon and used again, or if you're burning your candle at both ends and still coming up short, I want to point toward a hope - the only hope - worth holding onto. 

I'm going with the One who has given me the kind of hope that makes me okay with sounding like a madwoman. 

My Savior was beaten, spat upon, forsaken, abandoned, rejected, hung on a cross between thieves, and died a criminal's death. Then, He conquered death itself. It was the cost of His call. There was nothing smooth, wealthy, or aloof about Him. His Words brought life and His hands were dirty from washing filthy feet like mine. So, excuse me, but try as I might, I cannot find a single loss I have endured or fear that I want to hold onto that compares to that kind of love. 

I want that kind of love and I want to become that kind of love. 

The scales have fallen off this girl's eyes and I pray they never find their way back. 

I'm not afraid anymore. 

He makes me brave.

**If you want to know more about this kind of love or just need to be among other imperfect people who will never question you but wholeheartedly embrace you right where you are, come join us this morning at Ekk on the Hill inside the Downing Student Union across from Diddle Arena on WKU's campus at 11:00 a.m. It just so happens that every person that comes today will also receive a free copy of the book quoted above, Bob Goff's Everybody Always.**


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