Last year, I told you about Acquire the Fire in a Years of Listening post because I didn’t want it to deserve its own. This year I didn’t even plan on going until I found out Disciple was going to be there. As the event approached, however, I began to soften. I knew my hostility toward Acquire the Fire was unreasonable and unfair; it wasn’t their fault that my brain was a mess and my emotions ran away from me. I had to remind myself that no one is responsible for my feelings but me. Others can trigger feelings in me, but my response is what matters; how I deal with them, if I take them to Jesus or not, is no fault of anyone’s but mine. That was a hard lesson that took months to learn, but I finally began to understand.
That being said, my goal for my experience at Acquire the Fire this year was simply to have fun. I knew I was going to like the bands, and I was going with a great group of girls, so my plan was to just enjoy what came. I’ve come so far since last year, God has delivered me from so much, but I think I still carry the fear that any joy I find is temporary. I think I’m afraid to let Him really change me, so I settle for comfort. But, as we’ve discussed, that isn’t good enough anymore. I want change; I need it, too; I have to let Him work it in me. All of this to say:
What happened to me at Acquire the Fire was completely unexpected. Oh, I had fun– with Jesus! And that’s something I haven’t been able to say in a long time.
I love Jesus. He is the very core of my life, my heart, my mind. But in our walk, I’ve been in a valley, climbing slowly but surely. If you’ve read Forgiven and Loved for a while, you’ve been with me on that climb– in the lowest points and in the meadows of hope. And so has He, even when I was blind. The past month or two, it’s felt as if I’m on level ground, not falling, not being lifted. And I’ve been content with that. Imagine how it felt to start worshiping Him like I forgot I could; how I felt when I remembered the realities of forgiveness; how excited I was to hear things in my spirit again! The promise is real: the desert is not my home! But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I embarked on the this adventure with Grandma Edie and my sisters from our monthly Bible study, and that really added to how much fun I had. These girls are not only hilarious and quirky, but their relationships with Jesus are real and mature, much more than with most girls our age, so it’s easy to be open and honest with them; I am so thankful for them!
The first night, I noticed two things: 1) The worship leader was handsome to the point of insanity, and 2) Although I “knew” every truth from the sermon, it felt like I was hearing them for the first time. I know that what I did yesterday doesn’t define me today, but when Pastor Kemtal Glasgow said that, I realized I wasn’t living like I believed it anymore. But perhaps the most surprising thing was that when I realized this and decided I wanted to change– I did. Right away. In worship, I closed my eyes and lifted up my cupped hands and just surrendered my heart right away. And I knew that I would make mistakes again; I knew that eventually I would open my eyes, see Mr. Worshipleaderman, and think of him instead of Jesus, and I did. But He had grace. Every time Mr. Worshipleaderman crossed my mind, I would close my eyes and genuinely surrender my heart, and He would take it and put a smile in its place. It was that easy, and I never would have thought that all this time conquering lust was as easy as that! I just asked Him to forgive me, to keep me about Him instead of anyone else, and He listened. This isn’t a new concept, isn’t revolutionary: it’s the gospel!
Have you forgotten the gospel like me?
I am constantly complicating my life. The answer, no matter the question, is always so simple, but every time I “find” it I’m blown away! Like at Acquire the Fire when I knew I had to do something for those suffering in the world. I didn’t know what it would take, but I knew He wanted me to and that I wanted to. But back home, getting a phone call about a possible missions trip? “Is this God’s will for me how am I ever going to pay for this I’ll never be able to go why did I sign up should I go somewhere else what can I do…” I let myself disguise things, trying to make them harder than they are. With this missions trip, I have to keep remembering that He is the way; He is the light on my path and He’ll take me where I need to be. What if I retold myself the gospel everyday? Because that’s the answer. Not some new philosophy, not some book or blog post written about it, not a step-by-step plan. What are you asking God today? Or, if you don’t know Him yet, what are you asking yourself or the world? The answer is in the gospel, right here in plain sight. I can’t tell you how many places I’ve looked for some joy, but where did I find it? Worshipfully focusing on Him in His presence. The gospel tells me that, that He is the wellspring of life. Why didn’t I listen? I also can’t tell you how long I’ve been trying to conquer lust, how many techniques I’ve tried, and what worked? Surrendering my heart to Jesus. The gospel tells me that, that He died for my sin so that I don’t have to live in it. How did I miss that? Person I love, if you find yourself seeking answers, look no further than Jesus. He is the gospel manifested. No matter what you’re stuck in, He can get you out. Take it from me, the unfeeling boy-watcher turned joyful bride of Christ. Is everything right with my life? Not in the slightest. Things piled up right after I got back from Acquire the Fire and it was hard. But am I okay? Yes. I’m better than okay. I FEEL! I Do you know how big that is? I feel that I am loved; I know I am.
The second night, me and my friend Angela were a couple of minutes late to worship (but we met Rapture Ruckus, no regrets!), so we had to stand a little to the side of the crowd. I was enjoying singing to Jesus, when I started to hear crying behind me. My heart immediately became heavy for this person. Minutes passed, and when I heard her cry out “PLEASE!” multiple times, I dropped to my knees, laid my hands on her, and prayed for her. I spent the rest of the worship service like that, crying and praying for the girl facedown on the ground. I knew where she was. It’s where I was a little over two years ago. When I touched her I immediately started sobbing, because I knew I could pray for her; I knew what she needed, because it was what I’d needed. And I heard what Jesus was saying to her then; I knew that He had said the same things to me, but I couldn’t hear them back then. He showed me just how much He delivered me when He sent me to that girl. Beautiful girl, if you’re out there: He’s already there. He is working on your heart. You will be okay. Anyone like her? You will be okay. How do I know? Because I’m okay. Because I spend time with Him and surrender to Him, because the living gospel is inside me, I’m more than okay. I am Forgiven and Loved.