"Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like."
- James 1:23
Five years ago, this summer, I was playing on semi pro soccer team in Cleveland. We made it to the playoffs and drove down to Cincinnati to play in the first round against some team from Charlotte. I remember the day vividly. We played at a high school field and the temperature had to be at least 95 degrees, plus humidity. It's one of those games that you try to conserve your energy as much as possible and just try to make it through the first half until the sun goes down and the air starts to cool off.
My team was sitting in the shade getting our shin guards and cleats on, preparing to start the warm up. I jogged into the field house to go to the bathroom. As I was jogging back out to join my team I heard this noise coming from one of the locker rooms. I peaked my head around the corner without them noticing me. It was the team we were about to play. Someone was playing the guitar. The rest of them were standing with eyes closed and hands raised. They were singing songs about Jesus.
I started laughing to myself and thought "wow, these people are freaking weird." I went and got 2 or 3 of my teammates so I could show them how crazy these people were. We all started laughing and had some choice words to say about them. Singing about Jesus before a soccer game? What the heck is going on? Is this a cult?
After the game, in which they beat us 7-1, they asked us to pray with them. We all circled up and everyone put their arms around each other. Their coached prayed. I felt uncomfortable and I don't think I closed my eyes at all, I was just looking around at everyone thinking how weird it was that I was standing on a soccer field, angry after the loss...praying. Again...what the heck is going on? Weird.
Over the next year-or-two, God did a work in my heart & life. I'm not going into all the details here but, let's just say he completely transformed me from the inside out. A life that was "perfect" on the outside was filled with loneliness, confusion, and a 19 year old girl searching for something real. I searched in many places but couldn't seem to find it. Then I found that realness when the Jesus of the Bible jumped off the pages and became real and living, breathing air into my lungs. For the first time in my life I felt significance beyond all the awards I won and beyond all the things I could "do." In a life that was spinning out of control (only on the inside because I had to have it all together on the outside, of course), I finally found something solid to stand on. Something that was Truth. The relentless love of Jesus, through other people. A life that had come alive.
Let's fast forward to this summer. Five short years after that hot summer day. Remember "some team from Charlotte"? The Charlotte Lady Eagles. The funny part? I play for them now. Now I sing songs about Jesus before I play soccer. Weird...I know.
The reason I shared the verse at the beginning (James 1:23) is because I think it's easy to forget who I was. It's easy to forget what I was like and what I was doing & thinking before I collided with the grace and love of Jesus. I have NEVER BEEN THE SAME. Yet, I often take it for granted. I often "look in the mirror" and think that "I'm doing ok" or "I got this (life) under control."
Romans 3:23 says, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." ALL have sinned...I have sinned. ALL fall short...I fall short. So...if I DON'T see that 19 year old (lost, lonely, confused) EVERY TIME I look in the mirror, I'm in trouble. Why? Because only if I see my unworthiness can I see God's greatness. Only if I see that I am nothing without Him can I be reminded of the "grace by which I have been saved, through faith- and this not from myself, it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2: 8-9).
From Cleveland to Charlotte. From loneliness to joy. From confusion to Truth. From anger to love. From persecuting Jesus to living my life for his glory.
...all in the blink of an eye...
Don't ever forget who you were before the grace of God.
Don't ever forget that your sin is no match for his grace.
"My dead heart now is beating,
my deepest stains now clean.
Your breath fills up my lungs,
now I'm free, now I'm free..."
- Charlie Hall ("Marvelous Light")
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