Jennifer Camp, co-founder of Gather Ministries, and author of Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both Facebook and Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.
THE BRIGHT LIGHT OF OUR TESTIMONY
I wonder where the quiet is sometimes. It feels scarce, precious. Like I don’t know how to reach it. Still, I am greedy for it. I convince myself: nothing I can do will make it available to me. My heart beats too fast, surely. Slow me down, Father. There, there You are.
I watch a movie that shows me God’s face. An actor depicts Him as the father who loves with intention. He watches his son, and He protects him. He pursues, and yet He lets him, if the son chooses, to fall.
And the son falls.
I wouldn’t know God unless He let me fall.
HOW OUR INITIAL REJECTION OF GOD MIGHT NOT BE A BAD THING
I wonder about this story of mine–why it is that I had to fall, to sin, to know Jesus like I do. But I know I wouldn’t have understood, even just a little, the sweetest of his forgiveness. I wouldn’t have understood, even just a little, the redemption that comes from grace. After all, it was my thinking–I didn’t need God–that ultimately pulled me toward Him. He knew. He knew, I think, I had to fall.
I talk to Him about how I wish it didn’t have to be this way–my pushing and pulling, my rebellion against His goodness. I have been an expert wrestler for independence when separateness from God was the last thing actually good for me. But this I know: there is one way independence is beautiful. Choose Me. Or not. Love Me. Or not. There is no half way. There is no second guessing. We choose Jesus to be in our life, or we reject Him.
MAYBE WE NEED TO FALL
I know a lot of us can tell stories about our experience of rejecting God. And maybe, actually, those stories are not so bad. The wrestling with God–maybe even the temporary rejection of Him–is just what we need. The act of wrestling propels us to make a decision. And in that decision, we come face to face with God’s heart.
For me, I had to push Jesus away completely before I could recognize how desperate I am to be in his arms. And He loves me. He loves me still.
He loves you still.
WHEN THE CONFUSION STARTED
A friend asks me a question that makes me consider my story. She knows it; I’ve told it to her, leaving nothing out. She worries that the sharing of my story might make a person more anxious, more worried about sinning themselves.
I am confused. Conflicted. No, actually . . . I am none of those things. . . I am resolved.
The story of God’s rescue of us is beautiful. It is what makes us beautiful.
Jesus’ rescue of us makes our testimony–our testimony that includes our fall–a beacon of light in a night. Our life shines now that it has been redeemed. For me to tell you I know Jesus without telling you how I know Him, how He rescued me, would be to deny that I have sinned. It would be to wear a shroud of secrecy that brings deaths to any heart. Our rescue is the beginning of our truest self. And how do we tell the beginning of us without the context provided by the story of our fall?
REDEMPTION IS BEAUTIFUL, EVEN IN THE DARKEST MESS
I don’t know how to tell my story–tell a listener about the Jesus I know–without telling, also, of my fall. I don’t know how to point to Jesus and his love for me without acknowledging to anyone how I know, in the quietest, most truest place in my heart, how dark and desperate I am without Him. I cannot articulate how beautiful He is without remembering how He showed me who I am without him. I cannot explain how loving He is until I remember how He forgives me, again and again, when I deserve it least. I cannot speak of his grace without telling a story, without sharing how I saw His tears fall when He saw his daughter run into arms.
Jesus brings the dead to life. He brings the lost into the fold.
LET’S START HERE
What is your story, sister? How do you know the God you know? Can we start here, just now? I reject the lie that our stories are not sacred, that they need to be boxed up, shelved.
“And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death” (Revelation 12: 10-11).
God has given you a voice, redemption, life and light. What now, will you do with it?
How, now, will you let your light–before your Father and before your friends and family–shine? I can’t wait to hear.