Before I dive into 7 on Thursday, I thought it might be good to give a little bit of background on me and my faith journey thus far.
Like many who were born into the Bible Belt of America, I began going to church before my momma even knew she was pregnant with me. My daddy was a deacon, both my parents led Sunday School, and going to church Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, and Wednesday nights was not an option for me. Needless to say, I became a Christian when I was eight years old and haven’t questioned that decision since. However, even as a little girl and brand new Christian, I struggled with what my faith as an American Christian should look like.
I always felt like there should be more. More than going to church on Sunday mornings. More than doing Girls in Action on Wednesday nights. More than children’s choir and the youth group and college Bible study. And over the years, God’s taught me a thing or two about what that “more” may look like—and it comes in the form of a day to day relationship with Him instead of cheap religiosity.
I remember when I was about ten years old struggling with the idea that I have brothers and sisters in Christ who are persecuted for being Christians. Brothers and sisters who risk their lives to meet and have Bible study, who die for professing their faith. And all the while, I have the freedom to decide whether or not I feel like going to church this Sunday morning. 1 Timothy 3:12 says, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…” So I wondered then and have often wondered since, “What am I doing wrong? Why am I not persecuted for my relationship with Jesus when He tells me that if I am living a godly life in Him I will be? Why are my brothers and sisters across the world dying for the same faith that I profess—while I shy away from talking to a stranger about what the Lord has done for me?” There has to be more.
After talking to my parents about this when I was younger, my dad wisely told me that God had placed me here in America for a reason. I was blessed with a family, a nice home, a wonderful school, and godly friends for a reason—and it was my duty to use those blessings to glorify Him. He told me that living out my faith and the persecution that that brings about may look different than my brothers and sisters on the mission field overseas, but that it was the same faith, nonetheless. For that advice I am thankful. But I am also thankful that the Lord is now teaching me ways that I can actually USE those blessings to bless Him and others, and I pray that He continues to do so all the days of my life. "7" is one of those tools that God is using to teach me how to put my faith into action, loving the "least of these."
This past year I started my first year of college at Union University, and that’s when my faith became the most real that it’s ever been. I’ve had a relationship with Christ since I was eight years old, and yet it wasn’t until I was eighteen that my relationship with Him started growing exponentially. All these years, God has been molding and preparing my heart for all that He is teaching me now… and it’s so crazy to think that all He is teaching me now will someday be the foundation for what He will continue to teach me in the future!
I always heard that when teenagers go to college, they become independent. They make their own choices without their parents’ influence; they live their own lives. But you can’t really understand that until you actually do it. And I have to say that that was probably the best thing that has ever happened for my relationship with Christ to date. Don’t get me wrong—my family played an integral role in fostering an environment that helped mold my relationship with Christ. But your faith does not become real until you make it your own—until you have to decide whether or not you will continue to grow this relationship that Christ has initiated, or if you’ll choose your own path.
Being at Union, I’ve been “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.” The people I spend the most time with are always pulling me aside and asking me, “Hey, what’s God been teaching you this week?” My roommates and I this past year would sit in our living room and talk about how God was moving, what we were learning, the struggles we were going through. We went to church together, prayed together, did ministry in our youth groups together. When you are surrounded by people like that, people who are constantly pushing you on toward a closer relationship with Christ, there’s no way NOT to grow in your faith. I am beyond thankful for those people that the Lord has placed in my life at school.
|Me and my wonderful roommates this past year at Union--|
Rachel, me, Hanna, and Summer!
And then, it was one of those wonderful friends that told me about a book she was reading (thank you, MiKalla!). 7 by Jen Hatmaker. The book that would begin this “7 Experiment” that I am about to embark on (for 7 WHOLE MONTHS). My world was about to be tipped on its axis. Just a little bit.
P.S. Just in case you didn't listen to my advice in the last post, you should SO pick up a copy of "7" by Jen Hatmaker and read it. It'll open your eyes if you let it. In the meantime, feel free to follow my journey through "The 7 Experiment" here!