A death due its part:
It’s a cold winter January night, my girlfriend (now fiancé), and I just attended an Andy Grammer concert, we sat first row and felt like we were on top of the world. In all the irony of the world, the next morning I was humbled, only to find out about the passing of my grandfather. His passing was sudden, without an expectation, and due to natural causes. The life of my grandfather was one that I could not have been more proud of, a pastor, a military man, and most importantly a sports fan; at least at the time I thought that to be the most important thing. Every visit, two or three times a year, him and I would go back to the back of their house and discuss every sports story from January to December and have bonding through it. I enjoyed sports so much because of this fact that I have always been known as the “genius sports fan” or “sportnut”, regardless of the name or purpose, I soon found out that I would never again get to talk sports with such an esteemed man. The world had a greater plan, God said, “this death will do its part”.
It took a month or so, but I found out more about my grandpa than I ever knew, things about his donating, his graciousness, and his willingness to help others who have deceived him first hand. I then decided to start reading the Bible every single night, praying often, and giving my entire life over to Christ.
Before I go on, I had been saved before, or at least what I defined as salvation. I had experienced, like many of us, those end of the sermon moments where preachers will to try to force the Holy Spirit upon you and almost back you into a corner. I had experienced being backed into a hypothetical corner and I had prayed that prayer probably 500 times because I wanted to be certain I wasn’t going to Hell. I wanted, Fire Insurance, if you will. The most fascinating part is I would constantly continue to make that prayer, assuring God and myself that I didn’t want to ever be in those Lakes of Fire, but at the same time I was making those prayers, I didn’t have anyone guiding me either. There wasn’t anyone out there driving me to get into the Word, to pray, or much less ever even create that relationship without God OUTSIDE of church. I didn’t have someone to tell me what the next step was, I had to find out the hard way. I firmly believe that I was a victim of the system, a child who wanted to love God, but didn’t even know how to love God. In our churches today, we preach to live like Jesus, but we don’t tell everyone how Jesus lived; this is a cruel and harsh reality. We see Jesus as super-natural, when Jesus was actually super-human, Jesus actually lived to epitomize God in the flesh. So when I read my Bible and see that Jesus says, “You will do greater things than thee”, that should be all the inspiration I need, knowing that I have gifts directly from God to fulfill His Will. Back to my church experience, we want to save as many people as possible, but once they’re saved it’s as if we are supposed to have this radical make-over that takes place in our lives…placing doubt into people’s hearts that grows people afar from Christ rather than bringing them closer. When someone does not have that instantaneous revival of their humanity, it creates significant doubt about whether God’s love is real.
This endeavor has almost become, dare I say, calculated to the fact that every sermon is the exact and like an item on an assembly line, the same people working there will do the same thing each day, but once it’s outside of the comfort zone of someone…answers become empty and impossible to find. Instead of backing new Christian prospects into a corner, what if we did as Jesus did and distribute grace and show people God’s true compassionate love. I seem to have this inability to find a time where Jesus preached to a group and backed them into the proverbial corner. That’s because it did not happen, my Savior Jesus simply showed everyone His love and His love is enough, because His love is real, true, and genuine.
How about we backtrack to bring things full-circle, so you can vastly understand the significance of my turning my life over to God. I grew up in a deep southern town, one where the Baptists reign and a place where racism and sexism still exist. I was taught my entire life to keep an open mind by my parents, and most importantly, they taught me never give up. My dad once told me, “…if you know you’re right, and you know 100% that what you’re saying is correct, never give in…because once you give in once, you lose all esteem and begin to doubt yourself and your abilities as a person”. This quote has been a direct part and object of my daily life. I can credit only God for giving me parents that would allow me to set my goals high and my aspirations to places that NASA will never even set foot on. I spent the first 20 years of my life believing everything that I heard and that I was completely and confidently saved by God and that going to church occasionally was the only pre-requisite that got you into Heaven.
However, one day all of this changed, the day that my grandpa had passed away. I began digging into the Word myself, I began to live my life as if He were continuing His life through me. I not only wanted to honor and commend my family member for all that he had done, but most importantly I wanted to view him as a person that I could always think of and see God. Which vastly made me start to think what people think of when they see me and if what they did see was really worth…well anything. I started to pray, awkwardly, aloud as if God were some alien and I was trying to recreate the movie ET. I started to take notes in church, take notes on my own, watch multiple preachers every week, and really began to grow vastly with my knowledge for God. There was still something missing, the thing missing coincidently was God, himself. I didn’t even know what I was trying to say, much less actually have a conversation and cry out to God.
Following my month or two of extremely awkwardness, I remained persistent because I knew that if my grandpa could do this, so could I, and I knew that God had blessed with me with an incredible intellectual capacity with esteemed intestinal fortitude. As time continued to drag, I became more and more comfortable speaking to God and understand what God was saying to me. I began writing a blog, a blog online so that I could try to help people all around the world see exactly what I’m reading and perhaps even maybe they could learn about God! It was my way of witnessing to others, I had to take a blind leap of faith, because I didn’t know if what I was studying and writing was correct. I trusted that the Holy Spirit would take over my fingers as I would write to others, so that they could understand exactly what is going on in my mind. Fortunately, it really worked out and thrived to me, I would have people respond in resounding masses, and this assured me that what I was doing was good. A quick side note, good and bad in the Bible are not what we think of those two words to mean. Imagine a number scale from one to ten, the scale illustrating the faithfulness of our being, good measures to be faithful, bad measures to be unfaithful. There was a point where thousands of people were logging onto wordpress and looking at my blog, but eventually God told me to stop, He told me…to spend more time with Him.
At first, I thought it was Satan trying to pry me away from my new way to outreach others, but I really started to feel as if I were blind upstairs and I could not think of anything to write. It was if God were blocking my mind, leaving me unable to type up anything for others to see. I would try day after day to write a blog, but eventually I gave up my pride and said, “Okay God, this doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, but what is it you want from me instead”? God responded to me comically, He started to open my Bible to different passages dealing with all sorts of things, as if He was adding to my spiritual repertoire. The breadth of my knowledge was increasing by insurmountable numbers, to where I could answer
most topics that were shot at me, enough to where God was finally escalating my life over a span of time. It wasn’t until then did I know that, I was for SURE a child of God. I had changed my ways and began living the Christian life, not by standards that the church set forth, but what the Bible set forth for us to abide by. It wasn’t until I was actually following Jesus did I have assurance in my salvation. It’s not until now, am I writing for the first time in 6 months, did I know what being a Christian is actually about, it’s about living like Romans 12. Being a Christian is so much more than doing forty-five minutes of worship every Sunday to your favorite songs and sitting through a forty minute sermon directly following it, and frankly until the church stops letting that be suffice, there will be a lot of Christopher Kidd’s out there…people who want to love God, but do not know how to even start.
I am leaving you with this as an abbreviated version of my testimony, I am in hopes that it raises awareness to not only stick with the people who want to know God, but also baby them and guide them to show them who this Jesus folk is truly all about. I ask also that it isn’t the PG Jesus that these people of all ages who long for God learn about, it’s the actual Jesus. The Jesus that befriended sinners with a purpose to bring them to God, a man who had more audacity to serve than any other person on this planet. I ask that you, whenever the opportunity presents itself, have them hard in the Word, living as if they wanted to model Christ. The fact that I’m leaving you with is that…we are not perfect, but we must strive for perfection to please our Master, as it is the intentionality that gets us rewards in Heaven, as opposed to the actions themselves. If only I would have known this well-before this time, as I feel like I have wasted the first twenty years of my life, so my final point is that I anticipate seeing a day where we can start the young fresh and show them the actual Jesus lived on this planet, rather than the PG Jesus. We need to know about His entirety of His life, like when He turned the tables over in the flee-market like temple, and how Jesus didn’t back down from confrontation, but actually held other brothers and sisters accountable. You see, it is the story where the woman was supposed to get stoned that got me started on this entire voyage with Christ, where Jesus tells these people, “For the one who has never sinned may only throw a stone” and everyone else walked away. My Savior was never scared to stick His neck out to help a live and save a soul from the midst of the worldly ways. I beg that we also become audacious in our faith and teach others what the Christian live is supposed to be about, one the way of Romans 12. God showed me through death that at any moment, He can take the wind from our sails, and showed me how to appreciate life. Through such a hardship, God showed me how to love and display grace to all, this death has more than done its part in my life.