One day, when I was around twelve years old, I was so bored in church that I picked up one of those big, hardback Bibles and began to read. I flipped it open and it landed in the book of “Acts.” Church bored me out of my mind. The book of “Acts” made my mind race with the imagination of Tolkien. Story after story looked like something out of a science fiction novel. Some dude named Stephen is performing miracles. Another fella named Phillip gets transported. For the first time in twelve years of going to church, my heart began to tick with excitement.
I started asking questions and haven’t stopped since.
The other day I was approached and asked, “How long have you been ‘Charismatic’?” I replied with, “I’m not.” They followed up with, “What do you consider yourself then?” I paused, thought and then said, “I’m God’s ‘friend.’”
From age twelve to now forty-one, a man who flipped the literal world upside down has fascinated me. Jesus. If you spend any time with me, you will realize that I’m not very spiritual. I don’t listen to much Christian music. My idea of quiet time is listening to Colin Cowherd on sports talk radio for an hour while my eleven year old son and I eat a Costco size bag of Cheetos. Yet, even though I don’t strain to perform the “serious” spiritual disciplines that make so many people feel better about themselves, I am actually enjoying Jesus now more than at any other moment in my life.
Through friendship with Him, He has lead me to the most intense application of discipline in my life that I’ve experienced. Instead of it wearing me out, I love it. Loving discipline.
That’s a first for this fat ex-Baptist.
I’ve been praying for the sick and broken for 10 years and I’ve seen Jesus do some really incredible things. But lately I’ve come to the conclusion that I am done trying to fit myself into a mold that I am simply not wired to fit into. I have grown exhausted trying to be someone I’m not. I feel liberated in a weird kind of way. It is odd and refreshing to be the Lead Pastor of a church and admit that I would rather watch Jim Gaffigan than some of these super serious preachers who stand on conference stages. When people find out the I’m a Pastor and have written a book on the Kingdom, usually the immediate assumption is that I “press in” and go after Him with the strain of seriousness.
“Seriousness” is not a fruit of the Spirit.
I don’t “press in.” I lean back onto His chest accepting that He has already put me in heavenly places and I’m learning to enjoy what He has already paid for me to have: friendship with Him.
The closer I get to God, the more surprised I am. When I was younger, I was convinced that He was the most serious person who ever existed. I was convinced. Funny how things change.
The other day, I was barreling down Woodruff Road in my miniature-van, and I heard God say, “I love to laugh.” The Bible tells us that “His sheep know His voice.” Over the years, I have learned to discern when He is speaking to me and I can tell you one thing: I had no stinking clue that God is the way He is. He is so relaxed and calm. I always knew that Jesus said His yoke is easy; I simply did not believe it.
I’m training for a half marathon right now. That is not a joke.
I am using this time of training to turn up Pandora loud on my phone, invite Jesus to run with me, and enjoy His presence whether He speaks to me or not. Relaxed. Laid back. I’m thankful God is letting me be me. Today, Lionel Richie described this season of my life best; “Easy like Sunday morning.” Thank you, Lionel.
If you struggle with viewing God as a taskmaster, I encourage you to challenge your normal way of thinking. Investigate this for yourself. You will be glad you did.