It all started with a pit of despair so deep, I didn’t want to go on. My previous blog posts tell that story.
One day about 2 years ago, after I received a little glimmer of hope and as I was slowly starting to heal from depression, I was reading a blog post by my friend Josie. I couldn’t even tell you what it was about or the title (sorry Josie), but I scrolled down to the comments. I clicked on the Gravatar (profile picture) of one of the commenter’s for some strange reason, and ended up on his blog. On the sidebar of his blog was a picture of a book titled Glorious Ruin, authored by some guy named Tullian Tchividjian. Tullian Tchividjian? Hmmm, interesting. The design of the book really captured my eye, but the name intrigued me even more. So, I clicked on the icon of the book and ended up on the book’s Amazon page. I read a little bit about the book and then read a little about the author, who I found out was Billy Graham’s grandson. I googled Tullian and somehow read something that spoke about his rebellious past. Rebellious past? I have a rebellious past! Right then and there I decided I needed to hear this guy’s sermons. So, I looked up his church and found the media page.
I can’t even tell you what sermon series I started on. It may have been the Jesus + Nothing = Everything or The Glorious Impossibility. All I remember is feeling this tremendous sense of relief, like my cage door had been opened. I found out with each sermon that this Christian life isn’t riding all on my shoulders. I discovered that once I became a Christian I didn’t have to leave Jesus behind at the starting line so I could concentrate on becoming a better, stronger, more victorious Christian. I realized that I didn’t have to live a life of pretending and performing. I found out that God is not an angry mob boss who loves me on my good days and scratches me off his list on my bad days. I learned that the checklist version of Christianity wasn’t working for me…and isn’t ever going to work for me…because that’s not Christianity.
I listened to a few sermons everyday for months. I passed the sermons along to friends with “Amazing Sermon!!!” in the subject line. I found out Tullian had a blog, so started reading that regularly and my chains loosened a little more. Then I found LIBERATE. LIBERATE is like an oasis in a very dry desert. Through Tullian I found out about Key Life, Dropping Keys, and Christ Hold Fast. I found out about others spreading the liberating truth of the gospel – Elyse Fitzpatrick, Steve Brown, Nick Lannon, Jessica Thompson, Kimm Crandall, Scotty Smith, Jono Linebaugh, etc. (forgive me if I missed you). I found out there was a LIBERATE conference. I knew I had to be there one day.
Now I have to share the really awesome part, because I can’t hold back any longer (well, I’m sure you’ve guessed by the picture) – I got to meet Tullian 4 days ago at the LIBERATE Conference!! Just about two years after social media first introduced me to him and his messages that have saturated my heart and soul with gospel truth. The story of how it all came together amazes me. It was a wonderful weekend. I met some of my friends in the #GospelPosse that I found on Twitter not too long ago (why oh why don’t I have pictures with them?) I experienced a sanctuary full of people who are dropping the pose and letting their masks fall off. I met The Chief Sinner and his beautiful wife Susan. I hugged Sarah Taras, whose blog posts remind me that I’M NOT CRAZY. I got to meet my Twitter brother Shaun who reminds me that I am a Fierce Sister for sharing what I am learning about the Gospel. I met Erik Guzman, whose posts on Key Life have inspired me so much. I was able to soak in the eloquence of Steve Brown on the LIBERATE stage (and really wanted to meet him). I was introduced to other speakers who are sharing this message. I had a sweet moment with my new friend Melissa in Panera Bread. I made new friends!!! I had a wonderful roomie. I laughed A LOT! The gospel does that. I experienced all of that and so much more.
I am blown away at God’s amazing grace. I don’t deserve any of this – not a single thing, but as my friend Denalyn said “Jesus is such a Giver! I’m so thankful He’s doting on you, His cherished daughter.”
Update: conference messages now available: #liberate2015
Psalm 40, The Message
I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip. He taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God.
Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God, turn your backs on the world’s “sure thing,” ignore what the world worships; The world’s a huge stockpile of God-wonders and God-thoughts. Nothing and no one comes close to you! I start talking about you, telling what I know, and quickly run out of words. Neither numbers nor words account for you.
Doing something for you, bringing something to you— that’s not what you’re after. Being religious, acting pious— that’s not what you’re asking for. You’ve opened my ears so I can listen.
So I answered, “I’m coming. I read in your letter what you wrote about me, And I’m coming to the party you’re throwing for me.” That’s when God’s Word entered my life, became part of my very being.
I’ve preached you to the whole congregation, I’ve kept back nothing, God—you know that. I didn’t keep the news of your ways a secret, didn’t keep it to myself. I told it all, how dependable you are, how thorough. I didn’t hold back pieces of love and truth For myself alone. I told it all, let the congregation know the whole story.
Now God, don’t hold out on me, don’t hold back your passion. Your love and truth are all that keeps me together. When troubles ganged up on me, a mob of sins past counting, I was so swamped by guilt I couldn’t see my way clear. More guilt in my heart than hair on my head, so heavy the guilt that my heart gave out.
Soften up, God, and intervene; hurry and get me some help, So those who are trying to kidnap my soul will be embarrassed and lose face, So anyone who gets a kick out of making me miserable will be heckled and disgraced, So those who pray for my ruin will be booed and jeered without mercy.
But all who are hunting for you— oh, let them sing and be happy. Let those who know what you’re all about tell the world you’re great and not quitting. And me? I’m a mess. (oh yes I am!) I’m nothing and have nothing: make something of me. You can do it; you’ve got what it takes— but God, don’t put it off.