Well I’m back from Aussieland and I must say that I’m not too happy about it. The trip was INCREDIBLE and I am extremely tempted to pack up my things and move out there. Love the people, love the land, love it all. It was amazing! And you know, I think what made this vacation so good was that it refreshed me in almost every possible way–physcially, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually. I didn’t go on this trip expecting to gain some fresh spiritual insight, but I found it in some unexpected ways.
The first spiritual refresher happened early on in the trip when I hung out with my best friend’s family. Most of her family lives in Sydney and they’re all pretty crazy and say insane things to her all the time. I would describe some of the hilarious things I witnessed during my time with them, but for her sake I’ll abstain. Just suffice it to say, it was like an Australian version of the family in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. They were a riot.
Amidst this family’s off the wall behavior, you can imagine my surprise when I met her 22 year old cousin, Justin, who is a born-again Christian. In college he’d done all the typical collegy things like drinking and doing drugs, but at some point he became fed up with it, and decided to change his life. Now, Justin is blissfully passionate about God and there is a glimmer in his eye whenever he talks about his faith. He’s been a Christian for 2 years now, but he still has that early-Christian glow. You know the one I’m talking about–when your faith is new and exciting and you can’t wait to read your Bible because every time you open it is like a new adventure, and talking about your faith is exhilirating, and each day holds a new surprise from God. I remember that time…it seems like it was long ago.
Meeting this guy was a great reminder of what my faith used to be like. But, I told myself, you can’t sustain that kind of enthusiasm forever. It’s sort of like the honeymoon period of a marriage–eventually reality sets in and it’s not as perfect as you thought. In fact, it’s a lot harder than you thought. As the harsh reality of this sinful world weighs upon your shoulders, the idea of getting back to that early-Christian glow seems unrealistic, if not impossible.
But then I met Laurent, who became my second spiritual refresher. After I left Australia I stopped by California to stay with a friend’s family, and the family has a woman who lives with them and helps out around the house named Laurent. Laurent is bubbly and full of life, and I guess someone told her that I had just finished seminary, because shortly after we met she sat me down and said, “So you’re a Christian, huh?” After I confirmed the rumors, she continued, “Well I just LOVE talking to other believers!!” and then she dove into a series of questions about how I got saved, what I wanted to do with my degree, why I loved college ministry, what I thought about Catholics (haha!) and she also told me about how she became a Christian. We talked for hours, and her enthusiasm for topics of faith never dwindled.
Laurent was just like the young man I met in Australia–same excitement, same early-Christian glow, same lens through which she saw *everything*. Everything, to both Laurent and Justin, is filtered through a Christian perspective. Everything can be traced back to Christ. Every topic, thought, attitude, anything at all, goes back to matters of faith. And the funny thing is–Laurent isn’t a new Christian. She has been a believer for 12 years.
So suddenly I find myself reminded of the reality that there are actually Christians out there who think about Christ all the time. And it’s not just the new Christians who do it–there are some people who have weathered life, the ups and downs, the mountains and valleys, yet they still have that glow about them, that shining love for God. Not everyone compartmentalizes their faith. For these people, it doesn’t take having a quiet time or praying or having a spiritual conversation to remember Christ, because he is everywhere and in everything, shaping every moment of every day.
Sadly, I am not like that, and I don’t know many people who are. People like Laurent and Justin are the exception to the rule. But because of these two people that I had the pleasure of meeting in these last couple weeks, I can no longer comfort myself with the lie that because other Christians don’t live, eat, and breathe Christ, that I don’t have to either. I cannot ease my conscience with the knowledge that just because I don’t pray all the time, seek God all the time, or direct everything I do back to Christ all the time, that I’m ok because that standard is unrealistic. That standard of whole-hearted, complete and total devotion to Christ is very realistic–we only think it’s unrealistic because we see it so rarely.
So yes, my vacation was refreshing, and in the best possible way. It was a wake-up call to the reality that I have been lying to myself, and that I have been settling. Like the saying goes, if He’s not Lord of all then He’s not Lord at all…I suppose that message, that God is not Lord of all, is the message we risk conveying to the world when we only worship God selectively. I suspect that is the message my life has been preaching, but I also suspect God sent me these reminders because He intends for me to change. Maybe you could hold me to that. 🙂