tell it like you know it but you don’t know nothing

on sunday, while sitting in church, i did something that cool 20-something christians do that i rarely do: i tweeted something my pastor said while the sermon was still going on. generally if the pastor has a golden nugget of goodness that i want to tweet, i wait until after the service before pulling my phone out. i’ve gotta set a good example for the students, right?

well, sunday was different. i was sitting with a leader and not with students and so i felt like i was able to pull of the mid-service tweet. i whipped my phone out and tweeted this:

you are either following what god has in store for you or arrogantly doing what you want to do.

wow. don’t hold anything back, preacher. oh, and next time, warn me before you smack me in the face with something like that.

don’t get me wrong, what he said was and is absolutely true. (side note: my pastor is awesome. i love hearing him speak. and i’m not just saying that because he’s my boss.) the thing is, while it was true, what he said spoke about exactly who i used to be.

there are a few times throughout the year that, just because of things that have happened, are times that i always take a step back and look at where i am and where i’ve come from.

the middle of december is one of those times.

you see, for three years, i knew without a doubt that god was calling me into ministry. i didn’t want to do it though so i didn’t. i did my own thing tried to bargain with god. when bargaining didn’t work i started to fight with him. i wanted to do what i wanted to do and i’d sprinkle in a little of what god wanted me to do.

i was arrogantly doing what i wanted to do.

during that time, i never really “rebelled” against god in the traditional sense of partying and things like that. instead, i just turned into a jerk. i became this arrogant, self-centered, better-than-everyone-else (fill in the blank). the arrogance that i was showing towards god spilled out and became who i was towards everyone.

oh, i acted humble, but at the same time i thought i was better than everyone i came in contact with.

i played it up that, “oh, i’m an idiot, i could be wrong” while thinking i was smarter than the person i was talking to.

i had a sense of entitlement that went against everything my family had ever taught me.

i was a jerk, and it was all because i thought that i knew better than god did.

the other day i got a message from a liberty alum. we’ve never met. our only connection is through a liberty message board. he’s a student pastor as well and saw the blog post that i wrote that was posted over on more than dodgeball. in the message he sent me, he wrote this:

i praise god for the growth that is visible in you over the last few years. i know at first that seems like a backhanded comment, but i don’t mean it to be. maybe you have always loved god as much as it shows lately, but that’s the thing, it didn’t used to show as much through your blog or your posts here or elsewhere.

a guy that i’ve never met, who only “knows” me through things i’ve written on the internet, can tell a difference in me. he’s not the only one either. my girlfriend used to think i was a huge jerk (and she’ll tell you as much) a few years ago. other people have told me that i’ve changed and that i’m much less arrogant now. when i was home over thanksgiving, my mom mentioned to me how she was amazed at how much more humble i am now (which seems like a complete oxymoron since i’m telling you how humble she thought i was…).

so what changed?

one thing. that’s all. only one thing changed: i stopped fighting with god.

two years ago, in the middle of december, i had my final fight with god. i had the fight where i threw in the towel and gave up. i was still completely against the idea of going into ministry, but i told god that if it’s what he wanted, i was open to listening. i told him that he’d have to change me completely because the person i was then had no desire to do what he wanted, but i was willing to let him change me.

weirdly enough, he took that invitation and started to work.

two years later i look back at my undergrad time at liberty and my first semester in seminary and i’m embarrassed by who i was. i’m embarrassed that people hear my name now and think of an arrogant jerk or a know-it-all kid. i’m embarrassed that there are people that won’t take me seriously now because they can’t shake the thought of who i was then.

most of all, i look back and i’m glad i’m not that person anymore.

one of the things that the guy from liberty said to me sticks out more than anything else. he said, “maybe you have always loved god as much as it shows lately but it didn’t used to show as much.”

i’d like to think i’ve always loved god this much but i don’t think that was the case. i always loved god. i have for as long as i can remember. he’s always been a part of my life and someone that i’ve always had a relationship with.

it’s hard to love someone when you’re constantly fighting with them though.

i hope that if you’re reading this and you’re fighting with god or arrogantly doing your own thing that you read my story and realize that it’s not worth it. even if you think you can’t do what god wants you to do in your current form, it’s much more worth it to throw in the towel and let him turn you into who he wants you to be.

the fighting will only wear you out and beat you down.

throwing in the towel at least allows you to rest.

say your prayers and take your vitamins.

have a nice day.

-jonathan

 

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