Recently, I sat down to outline some thoughts that I was preparing to share with the students at my church. On Wednesday evenings I have the pleasure of hanging out with some of the coolest teenagers I know, and one particular night I was given the opportunity to speak to the middle and high school girls.
I pulled out my aqua-colored Moleskine journal and starting jotting down all the things I wanted to say. Our Student Ministry was in the middle of a series on relationships and I knew I had so much I wanted to share. Shoot, these kids with their Snapchat and their text messages, their iPhones at age twelve and their obsession with the word “ratchet” (no, not the tool), yes, these kids were going to hear all that my oh-so-wise, 27-year-old, single self had to say.
I wanted to talk to them about being smart with social media, cutting back on the selfies, the difference in being single and being alone, the importance of finding your worth. I wanted to share my awkward moments, make them laugh, and challenge them to find Jesus in it all. I was eager and excited and ready to go.
My journal pages were covered in notes and arrows linking from one idea to the next. It was like a treasure map to my brain. As I read over each point and talked through them all in my head, I thought, “Well, now it’s time to add in some Scripture.” So, as I opened my Bible app to search for the verses that would fit my stories, I slowly began to realize that something was terribly wrong with this picture.
Somewhere along the way I turned this effort into a plan where I was attempting to weave Jesus into my story instead of allowing Jesus to reveal His. I was looking to add a dash of Him into my mix rather than looking at His plan first. And this is the place, this go-at-it-my-way place, where all can easily unravel.
It’s like I was saying, “Let me take my plan and add You to it.”
We all tend to do this, right? And I say “we” not because I’d like to throw you under the bus, but rather it gives me hope that I’m not alone in this self-centered journey. We sometimes start our day with goals and to-do lists and packed schedules and realize later that Jesus was just someone we squeezed into our agenda.
I turned the page of my journal so that a blank one stared back at me. Pulling out my Grandmother’s tattered Bible, I folded back each page and quietly asked God to reveal to me the message He wanted to share. A few minutes into my reading, I found myself in 2 Corinthians, wandering through the letters of Paul, and stopped on two verses that had been smoothly underlined by my Grandmother’s blue pen. I read,
“But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 NIV
There it is. The veil is taken away. Freedom. Reflection of His glory and not mine. Those words seeped into my heart as I felt God whisper,
“Start with me. Just let your story start with me.”
It was there, in His redemptive grace and His increasing glory, that I realized my greatest plea is that Jesus, above any writing project or to-do list or work task, wouldn’t be my afterthought.