Spiritual Journey Thursday is back after a little over a month away. I've missed you all!
I look forward to Thursdays when I can publish thoughts on my spiritual journey and hear the thoughts of others on a weekly theme topic. It has become a space for an encouraging and fortifying community to come together. We welcome anyone who would like to join us!
This week's theme topic is BEFORE/AFTER - words that describe you before and after Christ.
This topic was not my idea. I had the privilege of sitting down with Hannah (my daughter, Libby's, best friend) a couple weeks ago to talk with her about her future plans with Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru). You may have read blog and Facebook posts about Libby's special group of friends that have been by her side throughout college and recently at her wedding. They never cease to amaze me, and I'll miss them greatly as they disperse around the world doing extraordinary things. Anyway, Hannah was in the last days of raising support for her upcoming year stint in Montenegro on Cru staff. As we were chatting, she told me about a Cru outreach she participated in during her freshman year in college. Cru asked new members to define "before and after" words that described them from before to after knowing Christ. They were encouraged to make videos of their stories. Hannah's words were "from DEFENSELESS to ARMORED". Here is her video:
I also loved the words her boyfriend came up with: from BROKEN to BROKEN. I thought that was so profound. We are indeed broken either way, aren't we?! But life is so much more hopeful after Christ.
After she left, I kept pondering this idea. What would my words be? I'm not going to go into my whole testimony here, but my turning point was in my young adult years after I read Josh McDowell's book More Than a Carpenter. For those of you who know me, I'm sure it's not a surprise that a book was my way back to Jesus! I had some empty teen spiritual years in between growing up in the Presbyterian Church until about 13 and the end of my college years. That's not to say I never thought about God - I attended a friend's church for awhile and I always believed in God - I was just more of a searcher and not completely convinced that Christianity was the way to go. After finishing McDowell's book, I had the overwhelming sense that Jesus and what He did for us was real and that I better do something about it! One of my ideas for an "after" word was AWESTRUCK, but I couldn't think of a good word to describe the "before."
It wasn't until last night, so close to when I wanted to write my SJT post, that two perfect words came along, and of course, it was a book that helped me discover them! I was finishing up the delightful The Great Good Summer, a middle grade book by Liz Garton Scanlon. The protagonist, Ivy, embarks upon on a journey to find her mother who ran off with Hallelujah Dave to The Great Good Bible Church in Florida. An unlikely friend accompanies her. Paul loves science and space and doesn't believe in God stuff. One of the transformations that takes place in Ivy because of the journey is her sense of identity and her understanding of faith. Before that, though, she and Paul have a discussion about the scientific method. Ivy says to Paul, "You sciencey guys are all 'if, then' about everything, with your hypotheses and stuff. I always get stuck on the 'if' part." After I finished the book, I went back to those two words and thought about them. During those teen years, I was getting stuck on the "if" part. I was searching, questioning, and doubting. The McDowell book convinced me (in a sciencey way) that what I had been taught as a kid was all true, and with a sense of awe, I remember thinking, Well, if this is all true, then what? What will I do about it? All the years after that, I've been trying to live according to those questions. Of course, I don't always live like it's true - I fall short all the time, but I'm rarely, if ever, really, in the "If" stage. So, there are my words: From IF to THEN. What are yours?