Sunday, March 22, 2015

What a (Jesus) Freak

            It had been a fairly normal week, I thought, as I stood in the carpool line after school on Friday, talking casually with a few friends. As if on cue, though, a guy walked up and started talking to people around me. As he looked at me, he said, “Mary Shelley, you post a lot of Jesus stuff on Instagram. I mean it’s, like, every post. You must love God a lot.”


            I was a bit baffled, to say the least, and on top of that, I completely passed up an opportunity to share my faith because I didn’t really say anything to him after his comment. I got to thinking about it that day, and I told my mom about it after school.

            She said to me, “You should have said, ‘I do love God a lot. I’m a Jesus Freak.’”

            I laughed and didn’t say anything back, but her comment sparked something inside of me. I realized that I believe what I believe for a reason; yes, I have been raised hearing the gospel my whole life, but it took time for God to soften my stubborn heart, and when He did, I was exposed to wonderful, amazing grace. I used to see God as a crutch, like a pain-killer, but over the past few years, I have begun to realize that what I believe is my whole life.

So yes, I am a Jesus Freak. But, wouldn’t you be, too, if you thought that everything was lost, that you were a hopeless, ugly mess that could not be rescued?  

            I believed for so long that I could somehow save myself. I wanted to be that one rebel in the family who didn’t follow in her parents’ footsteps. I wanted to be different, so I tried; I really tried to be good on my own. I always said “please” and “thank you” and called everyone “ma’am” or “sir,” but those were just little, tiny things, and surely weren’t enough for me to be considered good, so I tried harder. Soon, though, I saw my human nature surfacing more and more. All of a sudden, or maybe not so suddenly,  I was lying to get myself out of things, calling people names, and being generally mean. What had happened to me? I couldn’t fix myself, and I had rejected God’s grace. He surely wouldn’t accept me now, after I had openly defied Him.

            I continued to try, and when I was ready to abandon my effort, it was time for my first year of summer camp at The Wilds of North Carolina. I was excited to be away from my family; there would be less distraction. I would finally feel free, not constantly watched by the withering glances of my parents. It was a Christian camp, and I was exposed to so much there. I remember walking through the beautiful trails there and just really feeling God. I knew He was real, because how could this earth have come to be without Him? There was an evangelist that spoke there. I remember him making us call him “Brother Will,” and thought it was funny that he wanted to be my brother when I was only nine. He had to be a least forty. He spoke about God, the One I knew to be the Creator, with such passion and sincerity. I was scared to come to God, though; I think I thought He would somehow punish me for all bad I had done. Brother Will didn’t speak that way about God, though. God wanted me, he had said. Surely it was too good to be true. I ignored the rapid beating of my heart, like God himself was knocking at the door, waiting to come in.

            One night, although I don’t remember the day, something hit me. The message wasn’t even on salvation. (I think it was about bitterness towards God, or something.) I felt a feeling like a blood vessel had exploded in my heart, and the tears began to flow, first slowly, then like a river, the sobs racking my body. I couldn’t hold it in. To think that I had tried for so long, that I was completely convinced that I could do it on my own, and God still wanted me. He didn’t need me; He wanted me. He wanted to cleanse me; He wanted to dwell in my heart. He knocked patiently, not getting frustrated or annoyed, but with a constant, valiant effort. On that warm, summer night, the God of the universe captured my heart. But he didn’t ride up on a white horse in shining armor; He hung on cross, willingly giving himself up for me.



            So yes, I am a Jesus Freak. What more would want to be? God chooses my weaknesses to show His strength. He loved me at my darkest, and if that isn’t amazing grace, I don’t know what is.

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