I’ve been wanting to have other people contribute to my blog for a while now. It’s an honor to be able to start out this little mini-series I’m going to be doing with a long time, long lost friend of mine.
Brian and I went to school together from elementary school through college. Good friends? Never. Decent friends? Also no. It’s been so crazy to see God work through old connections. The faith in Brian’s life this last month has been crazy inspiring to me. I can hardly believe he is the same man he was when we first met back up about two months ago.
Today, Brian got baptized. Here’s to one of the wildest testimonies I’ve heard to date. Here’s to the most radical transformation I’ve seen before my very eyes. Here’s to a little faith, big prayers, and small steps of obedience. Here’s to a heart forever changed.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8
I’m not exactly sure how to start this, so I usually just start typing, just as I am now. I miss writing, it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now – and just as many, many other things in my life, it’s being resurrected again. Exposing the gifts I once knew and showing me new ones. Which I suppose is a good segue into talking about what else is happening with Jesus in my life. See, look at that! Perfect introduction.
I remember reading “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac and thinking, “dang, this is difficult to follow, what sort of stream-of-thought nonsense is this?!” Then, after the first few chapters, I really sunk into it and actually found it suitable to how my mind comprehends language. I don’t intend for that to happen in this blog post, but if it does, well, I warned you. So, let’s get started.
I’ll paint you a picture, it’s November 23, 2018. I’m alone in my apartment, sitting on my kitchen table, an old square dining table, acquired from our previous house, tucked neatly into the corner between the fridge and the wall. As I sit there I decide to call my friend, Meghan Tiernan. You all might know her, she’s the author of this blog. Before I dive into that conversation, let me back up a little, there’s a story, so let me start there; it may make the rest seem more clear. We reconnected, roughly three weeks ago, how fitting a name, at the brewery called HOMES. Spoke of our lives, our relationships, our past. Basically, we catch up, become best friends, talk about God and Jesus a bunch for the next 3 weeks.
Let me keep painting, the picture isn’t done yet. I want to set the stage of my mindset prior to November 23rd. I had considered who God was and what Jesus was about. I went to Hope College. If you’ve been there, you get it. However, what Meghan challenged me on the following weeks wasn’t if I knew about God, but was my mind ever TRULY open to the wonders of the Lord. Short answer short, no. That question was being asked of a man who strongly proclaimed, “Even if JESUS CHRIST himself showed up at my doorstep, I’d assume I was hallucinating before I accepted His reality.” Wow, what a jerk, am I right? Just kidding, I’m very nice. But regardless, it was a strong statement, and I believed it.
So, the stage is better set now, let’s go back to the table in the corner by the fridge. Now I don’t remember the details of the conversation specifically, but I do remember my dad coming up. Bingo, that’s when things shifted. “So, you’re telling me, Meghan, if I have struggles with how I relate to my father, I will have struggles relating to the Father?” “Why yes, Brian, that is exactly what I proclaim.” “Well, thank you for your assertion, Meghan, could you pass the tea and biscuits, please.” (We don’t actually talk like that, but I am almost certain we will from now on). Anyways, major revelation. I’m sitting there realizing that I have never gone to my father for much of anything because I have always felt it was his role as the father to reach out to me. You see where this is going. I have never gone to God because I’ve always felt it was his role, as THE Father. If you knock, the door will be opened. Thank you, God.
Truly I tell you, what happened next was amazing. I thought, okay: let’s ask, seek, knock. I repented. I changed the way I thought. I want to linger on this point because it is truly the most important aspect of my arrival at God’s doorstep. It took me years to get to this point, I’ve tackled the facts about Jesus probably five to six times in my life, and gotten nowhere. I had felt dejected, disappointed, uninterested. But when I changed the way I thought, everything changed. I had the perspective, the mindset of, “God is real, and he wants to be in relation, and all who believe this will hear his voice”.
Only moments later, God had some words for me. Yea, I was freaked out too. How’d I know it was Him? He told me something I absolutely would never think to do on my own accord. He asked me to cut off communication with Meghan. This amazing, incredible light that had brought me to Jesus, “leave her be”. I think he wanted me to do this alone. WOW, tough start God. But I had repented, changed the way I thought. God is real, and I need to listen and follow. This was so scary … for about a second, and then a flood of peace ran over me. Why? Because for the first time in my life I had LISTENED and FOLLOWED God. What an honor. What an HONOR! So, I moved forward, with peace, but also nervousness about the future. It ended up being the hardest week, ever. Not to ruin an operatic storyline, but the exile from Meghan wasn’t too long lasting, and we remain literally the best of friends…if she tells you differently Idk maybe she’s thinking of the wrong Brian. A thought that stuck with me from this period was: us not understanding God’s plan isn’t an excuse not to follow it. Thank you, God.
Ever since then I have been running in my new identity with God. I could take a checklist of things that I’ve wanted to address within myself, and God has literally addressed each and every one in the last month. Let me be clear, EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Even things I hadn’t thought about in years, or ones that weren’t even on the list, he threw in.
I imagine there will be more to come, but dang am I excited to tackle them with him. A lot of my adult life I have said to myself and others, “Jeeze, if I only had a partner to help me push me into these things, push me to better myself, then absolutely I’d do them all.” I always assumed that meant a strong, wonderful woman. Now don’t get me wrong, I still seek a powerful, wonderful woman, but looking back it’s like, dang that is a lot of pressure to put on a human. But you know who it isn’t too much pressure for? Yeah, Jesus, you’re right! Now I feel like I have that person, someone who commands I seek His best, and man has that fire been lit! Thank you, God.
Not only is He pushing me into things, but redeeming old, faulty mindsets. A perfect example of his redemption is with my relationship with Christian women. I dated many of them at Hope, and many of them left me because I wasn’t a Christian. It was a source of rejection, resentment, and bitterness.
It hit me after listening to a sermon regarding the “goodness” gap between us and Jesus. You guessed it, there is no contest. The pastor used the imagery of a push-up contest. He had us all raise our hands, then put them down as he asked who could do 10 push-ups, 20, 30, … until the last man with his hand up could do about 80 push-ups. Wow, 80 push-ups! That’s a lot. The world record, you ask? A man in Japan, in 1984, did more than 10,000 push-ups. Imagine that. The strongest, leanest guy in the room, was 9,920 short. That is the gap, and then a whole lot more, between our human “goodness” and Jesus’s.
So, when I so naively proclaimed in the past, “what is the deal with Christian women, they don’t even acknowledge that I am just as good, if not more gooder, than the majority of Christian men.” This may be true, but what I now understand is Christian women aren’t looking for “good” because they know it will never compare to Jesus’s GOOD. They do not have to look any farther than Jesus to have that goodness in their life. What they seek, then, is someone else who understands this and will run as fast as they can, with said woman, toward that infinite goodness. Thank you, God.
Along the same lines of revelation, I have been praying, a lot. It blows my mind how I got by, even months ago, without prayer. The other night, I was lying on my bed, praying, and decided to pray the biggest prayer to date. If I remember correctly, it went something like this: “God, I pray to be a leader, to follow you and ONLY you. I want to be a leader in all my relationships, not just with my future wife and kids, but my family, my community, my patients. And how I want to lead God, is by your direction. I want to follow you, obey you, completely release myself to you. I would walk blindfolded if you had me because I trust you will lead me where I need to go. You point and I go, God. Truly mold me into a man after God.” You better believe I had some tears after that one. I thought, okay, that was a heavy prayer, some serious business just went down. And yeah, it felt good, but I wondered, “huh, I wonder how this will play out.”
Lo and behold, the VERY next morning, a complete stranger to me, the father of a friend of Meghan’s, reached out with a message. He shares a quote and some of his thoughts, I kid you not it said, “’Prayers are prophecies. They are the best predictors of our spiritual future. Who you become is determined by how you pray. Ultimately, the transcript of your prayers become the script of your life.’ Brian, bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers.” WOW. This was almost too much for me! I thought to myself, you know what, maybe God is real! Bold prayers, indeed. After reading that, God whispered in my ear “This is a perfect example of a spiritual leader, take notes, Brian.” All I could do was thank the Lord. This has been my life for the last few weeks, constant affirmation, constant pushing to dive deeper and deeper into the embrace of Jesus. Thank you, God.
I want to end with what God has been working the most with me. He wants to unearth old gifts that I had thrown out, or underutilized. He’s imploring me to self-discovery, as to discover the Him that is in me. I feel like a powder keg of potential right now because of this. My favorite prayer lately has been simply, “Light me up, God!”. I seek him in everything. I find that I have understood and grasped infinitely more about Jesus and his gospel from just being in relation with him FIRST, and then learning everything else SECOND. My entire life I had understood it the other way around, telling myself there was no way I could follow Jesus because I don’t know anything about him.
All I had to do was seek a relationship with Jesus, and the rest comes so easily and joyfully, you’ll end up needing it to sustain, like food and water. So far, through my relationship with Jesus, the two strongest images that have been revealed are “Brian, you are a student again, just as you asked” and “Brian, you are about to start a race, you’re in the blocks, you’re ready, the next season will hold so much for you.” Crazy enough, if you know me, or were to ask anyone close to me, “what are the two things Brian is best at?” They’d probably answer, yup, being a student and being a runner. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I could have thought of that on my own, the imagery is so perfect and so suited for who I am. This book isn’t written by us, God is the author. And it’s a book I can’t put down. I can’t wait to read the next chapters with Him, imagining him smile down as I work my way through, laughing when I laugh, hand on my back when I’m in darkness and holding me the highest at times of triumph. Thank you, God. Thank you for being with me.