Thirty Years of Walking With Jesus
On Friday, May 16th of this month, while walking the streets of Seattle, Washington on a mission trip, I turned 30.
It was 30 years ago on May 16, 1984, at 8:30 pm CST, that Jesus Christ entered my heart and life and saved me to new life in him. I had been invited to attend a Rick Stanley Youth Revival at my church. It was pizza night and I had a ticket. Rick is the stepbrother of the late Elvis Presley. He had an awesome testimony of going from following the “king of rock-n-roll” to following the King of Kings. Rick was super cool and captured my mind and heart with his words that Wednesday night. I was 14 years old at the time and I have never been the same since that moment. So at the ripe old age of 30 (spiritually speaking), I’ve found some time the past couple of weeks in the busy-ness of ministry and family to reflect on these past 30 years of walking with Jesus.
I’m a list guy, so here’s where my thoughts have been as I’ve mused over this milestone “birthday”…
The closer I walk to Jesus the farther I find that I am from him. Yeah, I know it’s a cliché. But it’s true. I mean it’s really true. I guess when I was 14 years old that if you would have asked me how close 30 years of walking with Jesus would put me, I would have thought closer than I feel right now. Oh, it’s not that I feel distant, but the reality of who Jesus is, how holy and wonderful he is, truly overwhelms me and I am struck with how far I am from being like him in all of this. So after, 30 years, I am still a sinner in need of a savior…daily.
Walking with Jesus is hard. Eugene Peterson wrote a book in 1980 called A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. Great title for a great book. The title resonates because it is so easy to live a Christian life of “short obedience” and to stray toward many directions.
I will admit that in the last 30 years my obedience has waned and my feet have strayed.
There have been seasons where I have obeyed my flesh and walked my own path. But I think that if my life were put on a graph that the trajectory would be up and toward my savior. It is my prayer that this would continue all the days of my life.
Thirty years of walking with Jesus requires walking with others. In short, we are not mean to walk alone.
I thoroughly resist the “private” spirituality devoid of the local church that dominates the faith patterns of so many.
I have enjoyed 22 of my 30 years with my wife, Julie. Wow, we have experienced so much together. She knows me and my walk more than any other. Other people have blessed my walk like my best friend, Steve Farris. My father, Bob. My son, Garrett. My mentors Chick Holland, J.B. Collingsworth, and Ronnie Floyd. There are so many others but the point is that, yes, walking with Jesus with others is necessary. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I feel like I am only now beginning to truly understand what Jesus is up to in my life and in the world when we talk about his “salvation.” Sin is more devastating and than we ever thought, imagined or would believe. We, as humanity, are more desperate than we know. And Jesus is the great answer to this great divide.
Jesus is on the move in our world and in people’s lives in ways that would blow our minds if we were privy to all his workings.
And his kingdom is being born right in front of our eyes and speeding ever closer to consummation.
So those are four quick thoughts that have dominated me these past couple of weeks. There are many, many more. But as I sit typing this post, these have risen to the top.
May your own walk with Jesus be a long obedience in the same direction….