I've gotten some really awesome feedback over the last few days regarding the Annie Are You Okay? blog post. Thank you to everyone that read it and thank you even more for starting some much needed conversations. I am hugging you via my blog right this second! HUGS!!! One thing I can say for sure about Anne Rice's announcement....no matter why or how it was written, or whatever your opinion is about it....God has used it for good. It has caused us all to take a look at our beliefs a little closer, whether you are a Christian or not. I love thinking. I love learning. I love conversing. I love questions. I wish that people would just ask more questions. Let's start talking! If I don't understand another religion, culture, opinion, or lifestyle....I just ask questions and try to understand better instead of jumping to conclusions based on something I heard or was told I had to or should believe. That is why I started off last week with blogs that asked some questions. I didn't get a lot of responses, but that's okay...I didn't think I would. The point was to get people thinking.
I think there is a lot of fear out there about things we don't understand. If you are a non-Christian, maybe you're scared of looking at Jesus for yourself, because you've already decided that you don't want to be a Christian. Maybe you've been against Jesus for years even though you don't know much about him and you don't want to look like a weak little wussy turncoat if you change your mind, so instead of testing yourself...you just keep on keepin' on. Maybe you've had a horrible experience in church and/or with Christians and you just can't bring yourself to believe in a God that would condone or encourage such things. I know there are people that are expert theologians that know the Bible front to back and inside out....and they don't believe in Jesus. This is where I think that faith and love come in. Because, even though the Bible is amazing and awesome....you still have to allow something you can't read, see, hear, or touch into your heart. Faith and belief in God goes way way deeper than our intellect. It goes into places where things don't make sense. When things stop making sense and seem to crazy to be true....that's where I believe you'll find God. I don't know...I'm just throwin' out some guesses here. Mainly because almost all those were my reasons for not wanting to look into this whole Jesus thing. Christians and non-Christians are doing the same thing. No one wants to really learn about the other out of fear. I think a lot of Christians are scared that our world might come crashing down if we start looking around and asking questions. I find that the opposite is actually true. We need to dig deep in order to lay a solid foundation. We need to build that foundation out of sound material that will last and withstand the test of time and assault. God tells us that if we seek, we will find Him (Matt 7:7). Just like I believe the rest of the Bible....I believe this. He doesn't just mean that we seek him on a superficial level. He means that the further down the rabbit hole we go, we will only find more and more of Him. A strong faith, comes from a solid understanding of that which you put your faith in. If we don't know God and His ways in a deep way, then it is hard for us to have unending faith in Him. If looking at another religion, lifestyle, opinion, or culture can cause you to lose faith in God......then maybe it's a good thing that you found out that your foundation was weak. Because eventually, that house would have fallen anyway. If you can't answer questions about your faith, or your faith changes with the blowing of the winds....then you need a better foundation.
I feel that many people decide that Jesus isn't God based on the fact that they have been bombarded with a bunch of religiousness. Us Christians throw holy sounding church words around and all that does is make people feel disconnected from us. We through in a bunch of traditions and things that aren't in the Bible in order to find a way to "be good". We are imperfect people doing our very best to do what God wants us to do. Due to our imperfections, many times, we miss the mark. It's easier for us to preach about fearing God, because deep down.....we are full of fear. It's easier to fear than it is to love. Love requires sacrifice. Love requires risk. Love requires opening our hearts to people that we feel don't deserve it. Fear makes us feel protected, but God doesn't want us to come to Him in fear. I think we feel like if we "put the fear of God" in people then they will straighten up and fly right...but honestly....that is not a permanent solution to the human condition. And, it doesn't work. God wants us to be so goofy in love with Him that we can't stand the moments in life when we aren't with Him. It's easier to be judgmental and push people away than it is to love them. Fear and judgment never makes anyone excited. No one is attracted to fear and judgment. Love....makes everyone excited! We LOVE love, even if we're afraid of it. Unfortunately, we tend to be afraid of the very thing we are supposed to give freely. The Bible is one big love letter to the world (This is a line from the book/movie Joshua...if you haven't read the book or seen the movie, please check it out. ) He loves us. All of us. If giving too much grace, too much mercy, or too much understanding and love is wrong....then maybe someone should let Jesus know, because that is exactly what He did. I just don't want anyone missing out on the best relationship and friendship you could ever have, just because a bunch of people with good intentions made it more complicated then it really is. Get down to the raw and real Gospel. Don't judge Jesus based on the imperfections of His people. Let Him show you who He really is. Look past all of the religiousness and look for the relationship. Surround yourself with people that have crazy faith and love that defies all logic. Surround yourself with people that are crazy and goofy for God. It is with these people that you will see miracles. It is with these people that you will see the hand of God on Earth. It is with these people that your soul will rest. All I am saying......is give Jesus a chance.
Do you know what it was about my brother, Kirk, that drew me to him...and ultimately to Jesus? Like a moth to a flame, I was uncontrollably drawn to Kirk's unconditional love for me. Kirk was seeing me and loving me through the eyes of God. He wasn't afraid to draw near to me just because I was a broken mess that cussed and drank like a sailor. It didn't offend him. He wasn't afraid that my sin would rub off on him. He wasn't afraid that the way I lived my life would cause him to stumble. He didn't pat me on the head and look down on me just because I wasn't where he was. He didn't approach me like someone to be pitied or looked down upon. He didn't try and use fear or judgment in order to "help" me. He just plain loved the heck out of me. Kirk's love for me was so overwhelming that sometimes I would just sit next to him and cry. I couldn't speak. I didn't understand it and I had never seen or felt anything like it before, but I knew that I wanted more of it. Kirk never did try and chase me down, or be my crutch. Sometimes, he let me fall. But sometimes, that is what you do when you love someone. You let them go so that God can come in and do what only He can do. But no matter how far I pushed Kirk away, or how far I fell...I knew he would never push me away or throw dirt on me while I sat at the bottom of the pit I dug for myself. Kirk's love was Christ's love. Christ loved me through my brother. Kirk's love was an encouraging, inspiring, and life changing love. I am so thankful to Kirk for dying to himself so that I could live. Kirk was obedient to God by loving me and speaking the truth to me, so that I could one day be saved from my darkness. I can't thank Kirk enough, but he doesn't want my thanks. That right there....was free of charge. For years I have come to my brother with issues or fears and told him that I am afraid to make the wrong decision. I am scared to death of back sliding or going back down the wrong path that leads to my old life. And instead of saying to me, "That's right, always be scared of back sliding and going down the wrong path, " he said to me, "Katie Kate, I'm not worried about you at all. No matter what you do, or where you go, God won't let you go. Has He ever let you go before? Nope. He hasn't. Even when you weren't living your life for Him, He was there. Whatever you do, I'm not worried you'll always find your way home." He spoke life into me. Even after all those years of making the same mistake over and over again, my brother had full confidence in God, and in me. AMEN! That is why I am so thankful for my Christian family and friends. I need them because I need to see Christ's love for me through real live eyes, real live arms, real live hands. I need people in my life whether they are Christian or not, because I have this aching need to give love and affection. I need to. I can't hold it in. I need love and I need to give it. I don't care if you believe what I believe or not....I frickin love you! : ) What a WONDERFUL life I have!!!! My purpose in life is to give love. WOW! And you what, there are more positions open for this job! No application is turned down! You are qualified for this position!
Why am I qualified? Well, Jesus loves me. Jesus loves me. Jesus loves me. JESUS loves me. Jesus loves ME. Jesus. Loves. Me. And He lives in me. And I know it. And not just because the Bible tells me so....which it does. God shows me every single day how much he loves me. He doesn't do it through fear, he does it through LOVE in the purest and simplest forms. He is crazy in love with me. And He is crazy in love with you. Jesus loves YOU! Go ahead, get excited! You know you want to! You know you need something to get excited about right now. Well, this is something you can count on. Do you know how much He loves us? He died for us, so that we wouldn't have to suffer and be weighed down by sin and fear. "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love" (1 John 4:18). "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7) Would you die for someone that didn't love you? Would you voluntarily walk into imminent pain and death for someone that would ignore you and not even acknowledge that you did that for them? You and I might not do that, but Jesus did. The only way that I can thank God for His sacrifice is to allow Him to take me places I never dreamed of going, refine me in fires I would have never had the patience and willingness to go through, shipwreck me in storms that I would have never dared to steer through, mold me into a piece of art I would have never found beautiful, and die to myself in order to save myself and others.
I don't know the state of Anne Rice's heart. I don't know where she is in her relationship with Jesus. I can't judge it. I don't want to judge it. All I can do to make this world a better place is take up my cross and follow Jesus. I will carry His burden which is to love the world and tell them the truth of his unending love, mercy, and grace. He is not just the God of the second chance...He is the God of the 300th chance. Trust me, I know. People may think I'm not hard enough on sin, but believe me, I take sin very seriously. Sin separates me from my best friend and that, to me, is unbearable. Separation from God is what I fear, because that emptiness is something that I just can't bear. I would rather go through the pain of the refiner's fire, the carver's chisel, and the potter's remolding than I would be able to stand spending time away from my Father, my best friend. But the best new is....because I accept Jesus, I don't have to fear separation from God. It is finished (John 19:25-30). The only opinion that matters to me, in the end, is God's. He's my best friend, my Redeemer, my Savior, my Father, my Protector, my Healer, my Helper, my Counselor...my Hero!
Katie, the One that Jesus Loved