“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.’”- Matthew 16:24-25 NIV
A couple days ago I was reflecting on my journey with Christ. It has been amazing, to say the least, but it has been a struggle. It started off a struggle, but it has been well worth it. I still remember the day, February 18, 1999, the time was 8:46pm, and the speaker was Erik Heard. This is for real, I remember it all.
I was at Forrest Home, a retreat center in Southern California, and it was my high school girlfriend’s church’s trip. I wasn’t expecting anything to occur; I was just planning on hanging out with my girlfriend and seeing some friends. Then, Erik spoke on Matthew 16:24-25. At that very moment, I realized my life was not my own and I needed to allow Christ to do something in me so I can do everything for Him! I knew my life was about to change for the better and I all I had to do was let myself go in order to let Him in.
I was embraced by the love of Christ and my life was redeemed by His work on the cross. The weekend ended and I left with a “camp high”, which in Christianese means an energy about life that could only be gained through camp. I could not wait to get home and share my experience!
However, when I got home, I heard something that made me question. Someone very close to me asked “So, what, are you saved now!” I said “Uhm…yeah, I guess so.” Their response to that is what killed me “Well, that’s good, I mean, I did that once, it is a good phase to go through.”
WHAT?! Just a “phase” to go through! That can’t be true?! Can it? There is no way the feeling I had on that mountain, on that day, embraced by the arms of Christ knowing I had a Father in heaven who truly loved me could be a “phase”! I went to my room and cried. I seriously was in one of those lip sucking, convulsing, drenched pillow cries. I could not handle the thought that this could not be real!
Well, 14 years later, I am here to say it is not a phase! I know the truth. I am loved by my Father in heaven, I am embraced by the love of Christ, and I am made for His glory. It might have been a phase for this individual because they couldn’t let go of their self and trust Christ would make them new and whole, but for me it has been a transformation that has changed my life and revealed purpose.
Our faith is not a phase, but has phases. It is not something that comes and goes, but it does have highs and lows. Jesus is who gives us life, but we have to be willing to lose our own to experience the fullness of the life He offers. I’m glad I didn’t allow Christ to get phased out of my life.