When I was just about 6 years old, I became a Christian. I don't remember much about it. I do remember going school the next day and being so excited to tell my best friend. I remember looking in the mirror and wondering if people could tell by looking at me that I was different. Nobody seemed to notice the difference, so by third period I'd had enough of radiating my newness, and I turned around and whispered to the girl behind me:
"I'm a Christian."
"No, you're not," she said, coloring her map.
"Yes, I am," I insisted.
"Not," she replied.
"YES I AM! YESTERDAY I WENT DOWN FRONT AND GAVE MY HEART TO JESUS, AND NOW I'M A CHRISTIAN, YOU FAT HEAD!"
That's what I remember about becoming a Christian.
Also this: I remember being told that when I gave my heart to Jesus, he came to live in me. This was great. I had the Almighty God on my side now. And I had plans, baby.
I think I was born with plans. Plus I had parents who told me I was special, not just average, that I could be anything I wanted—in fact, should be. I believed them.
So most of my life with God has been me marching up to him with my agenda, slapping it on his desk and in effect saying, "Here's what we're going to be doing today. Here's my part, and here's your part; I've highlighted it for you."
When I get frustrated with God, it's because he's not doing the part I assigned him.
Then I stumbled upon Psalm 5:3. You might just read right past it in other translations, but in The Message, Eugene Peterson translates it like this:
Every morning, I lay out the pieces of my life on your altar and watch for fire to descend.
This was the Hebrew morning prayer, words which started their day. Every day. This would have meant much more to them than it does to us, because their camp was literally built around an altar, saturated in the smells of sacrifice. They were familiar with the wood and the smoke, the smell of fresh blood and burning flesh. They made their way through the camp leading their sacrifice on its rope. They stood at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting before the great bronze altar. You didn't just fling your sacrifice up before God. The priest carefully cut it into pieces according to specific instructions, placing them on the altar with intent and care. You watched as the flames leapt, the fat sizzled and burned.
When I stumbled upon this verse several years ago, I was searching for a way to re-think my life—my exhausting overextended unfocused life. And God said:
"This is how I want you to approach me."
"This is what we're going to be doing today," God said. "Here's my part, and here's your part; I've highlighted it for you."
"Your part: Lay out the pieces of your life before me. Stand back. And pay attention.
My part: Fire."
Sometimes, as I watch, God burns away what doesn't belong in my day, in my heart, in my life plan.
"Let's don't worry about that thing you have scheduled at 11:30. You're not ready for it. I'm not done getting you ready for it."
"That right there—see the flames? That has to go. It's going. Yes. Gone."
Other times, God lights up an area of my life with the fire of his Spirit. I know that's where he's at work doing something. I need to pay attention.
Paying attention requires time and intent. But it is so much less exhausting than pushing my agenda.
You might be thinking, "This is a crazy way to live. She has no plan."
Why, yes, I do have a plan: I plan to watch what God is doing and join him.
If you're interested, you can watch with me here.