It all started when she locked her dad out of the house. Those two can be quite ornery to one another. Lily is learning to go toe-to-toe with her dad’s sense of humor and silly antics. If he dishes it out, she dishes it right back. So it was pretty amusing the afternoon that I heard them come home and someone quietly stepped into the house and shut the door. I didn’t hear footsteps on the hardwood, though. Whomever came in the door stood there waiting. …for a LONG time.
Finally, I heard a hand touch the doorknob and jiggle it. It was followed by a giggle on the inside. The door knob jiggled harder and so did the giggling. I knew immediately what had happened. Lily slipped into the house first while her dad finished doing something outside, but she wasn’t going to just lock the door and leave.
She was hanging out to take credit for her little joke.
Once the whole thing was done and Dad made it inside, wrestling Lily a bit after the fact, she came into the kitchen smiling and laughing at her achievement. “Mom, did you hear that I locked Dad out of the house?” There was a tinge of triumph in her voice.
She didn’t wait for my answer before trailing into her next sentence, “You should write about that tonight!”
“Oh yeah?” I questioned. “Maybe I should. But how does you locking your dad out of the house teach someone about Jesus?”
“Well, does it always have to be about Jesus?” she asked.
I thought for a moment. “No. I guess it really doesn’t. I can write about anything I want…”
However, my sentence was abruptly cut off at the first sign of Lily’s excitement. “I know! You can write about how so many of us lock Jesus out of our hearts. Write about how we don’t feel any peace when we don’t want to know Him.”
Well color me happy. This was unexpected.
I say this because Lily is not a girl of many words. She’s reliable, artistic, mature for her age, excels in many areas, loves God – but she’s relatively surface level and doesn’t dig too deep into conversation. I see more depth in her writing than in her speech.
No clue where she gets that…
However, her suggestion really got me thinking about my own experience with this.
Why did I lock Christ out of my heart?
There are billions of people in this world who don’t know who Jesus is. Many because they haven’t been reached yet. Some because they don’t want to know Him. And then there are others, still, who straddle the fence of I-believe-but-that’s-about-as-far-as-it’s-gonna-go.
I used to be one of those people. I knew enough about Him to get me by, but the idea of “religion” made me a nervous wreck. It didn’t fit into my way of thinking and I wasn’t about to sell myself over to something I couldn’t physically touch. I grasped enough of Who He was to submerse myself in prayer when I desperately needed it and I felt the peace that came from that.
But after the resolution I’d turn on my heel and lock the door to my heart behind me. I was good at locking Jesus out.
Some of it was unintentional. As an adolescent and young adult I couldn’t distinguish God’s promises from anything else I’d heard because I didn’t read God’s promises. And then there were other times that the world just looked so good that it was easier to ignore Him entirely.
I made that choice.
As it is, I’m forcing down that lump in my throat while I type these words and remind myself that it’s not that way anymore. That door is wide open as I continue to build a relationship that brings peace, joy, courage, forgiveness and unconditional love to my life, to name a few.
But that was a choice that I had to make, too. As it says in Romans 10:17 – faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Ultimately there was someone who brought that Good News into my life, but in order to grow that faith I had to choose to do so. My heart had to be open to hearing that Word.
But I wanted Truth. And I wanted Life.
And there became a whole lot of resistance on the other side. He was pushing into that door until it was finally time to stop trying to keep Him out.
Just as Lily unlocked the door to let her father in, so it was time for me to do the same.
It wasn’t easy at first. I felt conspicuous. Like a white t-shirt in a room full of black lights. It was hard to be up against so many testimonies that involved an entire life of living the Christian faith. I’d walk to Sunday school wondering if I should join the Pre-K class because I didn’t feel like I knew enough to sit with a room full of women who appeared to have it all together.
They knew how Jonah got into the belly of that whale. Me? I seriously didn’t have a clue. Maybe I’d feel more comfortable amongst the littles.
Nevertheless, it didn’t take me long to develop a desire for knowledge. To learn about God’s character and His love for me. To establish an understanding of my purpose and how it fits into His will and His ways.
There were, however, days that I would stare at the old key in my hand, wondering if I’d made the right choice by letting Him in…
Even now I have to smile and shake my head at those reservations, dismissing them as rubbish.
I’ve leaned into Him more during this last year than I ever have. Through life changes and urgent questions and petty frustrations and strained relationships and the slower-than-what-I’d-prefer outcome in response to this YES that I have agreed to…I finally threw that key away.
Because now I know that, through it all, He loved me anyway.
Through it all, He loves me still…
And how can I possibly lock that door knowing what I do now?
Today I’m linking up with the following authors to share my story: