Passion. Noun; strong and barely controllable emotion. You can imagine what life would be like if we lived with more passion. I bet things would be way more interesting. Now apply unprecedented passion to the life of a Christian! Can’t quite imagine it? Well what if I told you there was an entire Christian conference dedicated to that? I, along with 65,000 people, attended the PASSION 2020 conference at the beginning of this year and it was incredible. Worship, prayer, amazing talks given by some very notable Christian leaders and yes…Hillsong United. Now I bet you’re wondering why I am talking about PASSION Conference on the Women in Ministry page. Well, because one of my closest friends and sisters was able to attend it alongside me and she is none other than our February Woman in Ministry, Shelby! I cannot wait for you to meet her.
Shelby is a fairly recent college graduate and has almost completed a full year of post-grad life. She is very active in our Charleston Rally community at church, a fellow sorority woman like me, she works for a law firm and is all around a hilarious and wonderful person to know. I have been very blessed to do life with her and today’s look into her story actually begins right after PASSION Conference 2020! If any of y’all have ever been able to attend a Christian conference before, you know the post-conference season of life where you are debriefing yourself on all the incredible and incredibly life changing things that happened. I was able to catch up with her to ask how her post-Passion walk was going and here’s what she had to say.
“I’m doing really well but post-passion season is real! I’m not regressing but I am revisiting the basics in order to get to the root of why I believe what I believe and know God is a new and refreshed way. Right now, I am reading Genesis with the goal of studying, memorizing, and meditating. I have a brother in Christ helping me with this process and we are going chapter by chapter and looking for lessons and meditating on that throughout my day. Like right here in Genesis 1, it says before God, everything was empty and void and then [creation] was so. When God commands, everything moves. What God blesses; He multiplies. God had a plan in the garden and then we are introduced to the Trinity! He is due all the praise. So, if that is true, which I do believe it is, I then need to respond to these things with obedience and diligence. I’ve always read the Bible to know God, but I am now approaching it also with the desire to learn lessons.”
How awesome is it to hear a young person be so enthusiastic about the Bible? To know that there will never be a day where we grow too wise/knowledgeable for the Word is a wonderfully comforting thing. We get to spend the rest of our life learning about who God is in all of His personhoods (Father, Son, & Spirit) and learn what that means for us as Christians living in this life, preparing for the next. She then goes on to say:
“God provided before He commanded which is something I never saw so clearly before now. It’s nice to see the things I’ve always heard about. It’s God’s word that saves me and I want it for myself now instead of other people wanting it for me. It’s hard to be doing this now and have the majority of my week be spent in a non-Christian environment at work. I sometimes go home with the defeat I feel at work. But I can carry His word with me because the One who gave me His word is with me always and I can trust it. It gives me life and sustains me. And my community is the yes and amen to that!”
Something that I really love to see is honesty in this Christian walk. For far too long, we have seen Christians who pretend to be perfect or know everything but there is something so wonderfully comforting and affirming in seeing a Christian in the process. In my life, especially in college, I was so wrapped up in making sure I had it all together because I was always something for someone at some point for some reason and while I enjoyed being there for my community, it was exhausting and I never got to truly lean on my people as much as I should’ve. But what I really feel encouraged by watching Shelby do her walk with the Lord is that it is unabashed, honest, childlike yet so wise at times, and she is growing, and her growth is almost tangle but definitely visible.
As we continued our interview, I asked her what propelled her forward in her walk. In other words, what kept her going, especially when she found herself in moments where she may have second guessed herself? She had this to say:
“I think what’s propelled me forward in my walk is the shift in my desires and heart posture. When other people want me to do something, I don’t have the desire. But my desire for God shouldn’t be based on other people. If I’m really a Christian, other people shouldn’t be what motivates me to do the various spiritual disciplines. It should be the desire of my heart to want more of Christ. God changed my heart to want those things and now I know that when I approach the Bible, I am in the presence of my Father. It has changed the way I respond to the Father. You can’t pick and choose the parts of Jesus you want; you either want all of Him or nothing at all. Good people don’t go to Heaven, saved people go to Heaven.”
YES, AND AMEN!! One more time for the people in the back; “good people don’t go to Heaven, saved people go to Heaven”! We don’t have enough of that understanding because we should recognize that there is no other way to Heaven but salvation. Jesus says in John 14: 6, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’” (NIV). Once we understand that, we get to seek Him with a renewed understanding of what being a Christian means. It isn’t merely have we heard of Jesus, but do we know Him? Have we been sealed by the Holy Spirit (refer to Ephesians 2)? Shelby summed it up so well here and I am very confident of the work the Holy Spirit has done and continues to do in her heart! It is so encouraging to see the passion that has been stirring in her heart and soul not only as her leader in small group but as her friend.
We shifted gears a bit in our time together and I asked her what encouragement she had to the women in her life that were also chasing after Jesus. Shelby thought about it for a while and very gently but urgently said, “Do life for the Lord because you have been changed and want to do it for your relationship with Him. Don’t do life for the Lord for anyone else. Cause that’s called doing church and we don’t want that; we ARE the Church.” I asked her to elaborate on that and she went on to say, “I know it’s hard to get out of that routine of simply doing things to check a box but you get to trade religion for relationship and that’s so freeing. If I were to tell the future me anything at all, it would be that it’s worth it to be vulnerable and preserve; it’s not what you expected but it’s worth it. Look at how far God has brought [our community], believe in His promise! You may not have ever thought you’d be here, but He is good no matter what. Regardless of what I want for my life, His plans are better. Just remember that.”
As we wrapped up our conversation, I asked her if she had any last words of wisdom and what came next was so life giving. If you have taken nothing else from this post, I encourage you to read and be encouraged by this: “It’s hard out here and I’m not one to do well faking it. All I want everyone to see is the Lord in me. You have a community of sisters who love you and want you to grow. You’re never alone regardless of how you feel. God loves His children and He doesn’t waste time. You are seen, heard, and known by Him. Believe that; He is waiting for you to respond!”
Friends, it is so important for us to grasp this concept! His Kingdom is coming, and His will shall be done and no, this is not meant to instill an unhealthy fear, but it is meant to encourage urgency. Realizing that this is no longer our home, you will experience the joy of being freed up from having a sense of permanence in this world and truly go out to be the light you were created to be. Just like Shelby, no one can want it for you, you have to want to pursue that invitation that Jesus extended to you through His death & resurrection. If it is His will, you will repent, be saved, and baptized, and run towards His arms. Knowing His grace is sufficient for every step you talk and every time you fall short. He’s got you just like a good Father does.