Today, I received a message from this guy named Tate, who is one of the people who responded to my post in Chris's church's online community. He originally sent me a message because he noticed I said I'm from North Carolina, and so is he. It's always fun to meet people, even online, with whom you can connect over commonalities like that. In the last message I sent him, I talked about how I love to share my story with people and why I do it. This was part of his response today that really struck me:
"As for your story, I think people like me who have been Christians for a while honestly forget how incredible and life-changing God and the gospel can be. So, hearing stories like yours is a great reminder of these things for people like me. This is another reason why your story is so valuable to share and how God can use it to minister to people who have been Christians for a while or are new believers like yourself."
It made me think of this post and the correlating conversation I had with Taylor about how sometimes I feel out of place trying to give advice to people who are much stronger Christians than I am or who just have been Christians for a lot longer than I have been. After that conversation, I thought the way I needed to look at the situation was that we are all equals, which is true, but what Tate said opened my perspective to a different way of looking at it. I never once thought to look at being a "baby Christian" as a good thing. I thought that my refusing to submit to the Lord for so many years was a bad thing, a choice that had kept me from the joy that I know now when it was within my reach.
Yes, I realized quite a while ago that if I had found God years before I did, I wouldn't have the story that I do now, but I think a part of me, even maybe subconsciously, held on to the idea that I had screwed up, that I had failed by trying to fight on my own for as long as I did. But those words from Tate made me realize that my "newbie status" is actually a blessing. The memories of the transformation that God did in my life to get me to where I am now are still so fresh and so very real to me that they just add to the enthusiasm that I have for telling other people about Jesus. It made me understand why Lynn thanked me for talking and sharing my story with her. Faith was always a part of her life, so a story like mine is something quite different from what she knows.
Because it took me so long to truly find God, I have the ability to affect longtime or lifelong Christians in a way that stories from other strong, longtime Christians may not be able to. That is a blessing. Now, I can look at something that I used to let hold me back in a positive light. It still honestly blows my mind that at 20 years old, with there still being so much I don't know but am learning about God, that He's using me to reach people. I just never thought that my inexperience would be one of the reasons I am able to do what I do.
If anything, learning this lesson and having my eyes opened tonight only solidified a belief I have had for quite a while: I wouldn't change the story God has written for me for anything. I am immeasurably blessed to live this life, to be a vessel for God to reach the hearts of people, to be able to take part in God redeeming all the pain of my past. Every time someone tells me talking to me or knowing me has changed their life, it reminds me that I only want to be known so that I can make Jesus known. He's the one that deserves the attention, not me.
My favorite kind of blessings are the ones that are found in places you never expected to find them. It's such a bright reminder that God's ways are so much higher than ours. Tonight's was a reminder to stick to the path that I am on, because He can do things that I never could. Like flipping my opinion about being a baby Christian on its head. I love how my story served as a reminder for Tate, and his words served as a reminder for me, too. How great is our God?
Now, I guess all that is left is to keep praying that God will continue to bring me opportunities to boast about His life-changing power. I know with every part of me that I am all in. Whatever God wants me to do, wherever He wants me to go, I'll do it if I can tell my story to more people and see more people realize all over again just how wonderful, loving, and perfect God really is. Because the feeling I get when I see that happen after I've talked to people makes me so thankful for every ounce of pain that I've faced. That feelings is redemption in action.
And I just pray that recognizing it never, ever gets comfortable. From now to the day God takes me home, I want the realization that I've strengthened someone's walk with Christ to bring me to my knees. I couldn't do any of what I do without Him, anyway; it isn't me changing people, it's God changing them through me.
I'm just blessed to be a part of it.