The past couple of weeks have felt like a dry spell for me. January was cold, at times lonely, and filled with a nauseating number of late nights. This is the season where I must kick my thesis-writing into high gear and start actually meeting my deadlines. This is the season where I have to stop thinking about being single because I literally don’t have the time nor the headspace. This is also the season where my faith often hits the back burner. So much of this spiritual drought is brought on by letting material things and worldly desires into the cockpit. I haven’t loved or trusted Jesus with everything I’ve had, and it has really hurt.
This past Wednesday, I had the opportunity to attend a worship night, “Carry the Love,” sponsored by a group called the Circuit Riders. The Circuit Riders are a worship team from Huntington Beach, CA that travel nationally and internationally proclaiming the GOOD NEWS of the Gospel and glorifying the SWEET NAME of Jesus. Each year, college-aged students have the opportunity to be a part of this incredible experience, ministering to a world that so desperately needs it. Students can apply to either serve on the music team, the media team, or the messengers team, each challenging them to surrender wholly to the mission of Christ while using their personal gifts to start an honest revival. The mission of Carry the Love is to inspire the world to LOVE LIKE JESUS by preaching the simple Gospel one campus at a time. It truly only takes one person to start a movement, and the time to start is NOW.
We never have to walk alone.
Sometimes, angels trade their wings for baseball caps instead. On Wednesday morning, I was doing homework with one of my friends, when we were approached by a group of three individuals, Timmy, Jackie, and Zach. They asked us if we were planning on worshipping with them that night at Carry the Love, to which I told them I was coming. The funny thing is, my friend had told me about this event a few weeks prior, but God knows I need reminders sometimes. Timmy asked for my number so he could send me more details about the worship night and my plans were set. It was time to let go of my stress, anxiety, and fear and give it all to Jesus.
Belmont showed up.
Y’all, it is so encouraging to see your campus light up with the love of Christ. I don’t think there is any feeling like it. When my friends and I got to the worship night, we mingled around for a bit until things got started. When we got inside and worship began, I began to feel more at peace, like I could let my guard down. I was raised Episcopalian, so charismatic worship has always felt a little foreign to me but honestly, it’s what I needed. A couple songs in, Jimmy came running down the front and hugged me. It was good to see this dude again. Witnessing the passion he had for worship was truly inspiring, and had a real effect on me.
After listening to an incredible sermon by pastor Sammy Rodriguez, it was time for the moment that always creates a giant pit in my stomach: ALTER CALL. For me, I think it is a pride thing. I grew up a Christian, always believing in the goodness of Christ, but that night I just didn’t feel right NOT raising my hand. I needed to reaffirm my love for Christ because I knew I had been letting him co-pilot my life. And that’s just not how Jesus works.
Pastor Sammy invited us up to the front and the Carry the Love team immediately began to shower us in prayer. When Timmy saw me, he made his way across the room and began to pray with me. I unloaded everything I had been dealing with, from the tension of coming to terms with my sexuality to the struggle of staying pure in the age of modern technology and the internet. I told him that I had had a difficult year and that I was ready to fully surrender it to Jesus.
Jesus brings people together.
When I told Timmy that I wanted to write a blog post about Carry the Love and asked if I may include him in the story, he told me that that was fine, but that he’d rather me write about Jesus. What a man of God he is. Of course, Jesus is the silver lining to this story, but I think it is also important to highlight the vessels that have done so much for the Kingdom. The genuine love that this brother in Christ showed me the past few days has inspired me and wrecked me all at the same time. I would be lying if I said I didn’t absolutely bawl in my car Saturday night at the thought of him leaving. When someone prays over you, it elevates your trust for them. Even though we had just met, I felt like Timmy had known me for so much longer. It’s amazing how Christ can bring people of immense importance into our lives so quickly. It’s something I will never understand, but am so thankful for.
The thing I have learned over the past couple of days is this: the people, places, and things of this world will not last forever, and they can change or move out of our life on a whim, but Christ Himself NEVER MOVES. When we truly understand this statement, it makes us realize the importance of the moments we have with fellow believers. Even if I never cross paths with some of these people again, I know I am always with them through the love of Christ. And if they are meant to stay in my life, modern technology sure does help keep in touch.
I also learned that I am truly in awe of the power of Jesus. I am in awe of His steadfast love, immeasurable grace, and unsurpassable mercy. I am in awe that He can bring two people, from opposite sides of the country, together for the sake of His name. It is easy to forget how deep of a sacrifice Jesus made for us when He gave His life on the cross. So often, we are apt to picture the crucifixion as a beautiful symbol for His love, but we forget the pain he actually endured. His side was pierced, His blood shed, all so that you and I may live in freedom, every debt we could ever owe reconciled on His behalf. It’s so hard to fathom that kind of love. Can you imagine what the world would be like if we approached our neighbors with even a fragment of His everlasting love?
We would be dangerous.
Love is what it is all about, friends. I do not believe we can have true love without Jesus at the center of it all. Jesus was the one who taught us how to love by exemplifying what it means to give everything for the sake of the world. That is powerful. We have to be willing to give everything to be with Christ. We either love Him or we don’t. There is no in-between. There is no lukewarm Christianity. Jesus can’t merely be our co-pilot when life gets turbulent, He must be in control all of the time. Approaching our faith with humility and the heart of surrender is hard, but it’s the only way we can let Jesus do the work He must do to sanctify our lives.
1 John 3:16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
Part of fully surrendering to the mission of Christ means GOING PUBLIC with our faith. Our relationship with the living God should be something we celebrate every single day! The true spirit behind evangelism is loving our neighbors enough to proclaim the simple truths of Christianity. We must approach evangelism with love and grace, as everyone is in a different place in their walk with the Lord, but at the same time be diligent in the way we approach truth. Tim Keller once said that “love without truth is sentimentality, [whereas] truth without love is harshness.” We must deal honestly with scripture, but also remember that love is at the center of everything that Jesus did. The good news for us is that it is not our job to save someone’s soul. That’s what Jesus does. We are merely vessels for His mission. Are you ready to go public? No matter where you are on your journey, Jesus will always be there with arms wide open to catch you. As Bethel so elegantly puts it, “Whether I sink, whether I swim, it makes no difference when I’m beautifully in over my head.”
A note to my newfound pal.
Thank you for showing me the love of Jesus in such an honest and genuine way. The work you are doing with Carry the Love is truly inspiring, and I can’t tell you how much of an impact you’ve had on my life in a matter of 3 days. My heart was aching at the thought of you leaving, but I know you are going to do so much good as a warrior for Christ. This is an incredible calling that you are responding to and I hope it brings you nothing but joy in all seasons. The freedom you boast in Christ is a delight to witness and I pray you keep that wonderful spirit of yours alive all the days of your life. I hope we will meet again someday soon, brother. You are so incredibly loved.
Your brother in Christ,
As I tie up loose ends, I would like to encourage you. Whether you are deep in your faith or you feel lost, you are never alone. Find yourself a community of believers who love you through everything and direct your attention back to Christ. Learn how to trust them enough to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is a building block for true, honest relationships. Without it, we are left with brittle superficiality. We will not be alone in Heaven, but God doesn’t want us to wait until then to find our people (or His people, for that matter)! I encourage you to approach this week with an awareness for the needs of the people around you. Be the light that you want to see in the world. Be a friend to an aching soul. You may find you meet someone truly incredible.
If you are interested in learning more about Carry the Love, please visit http://www.carrythelove.com.
Even as all things change, feast your eyes on He who was, is, and is to to come.