Last night I heard a message that convicted and challenged me to the core. I can’t do it justice, and I still need to learn to apply it. But I want to share what I learned with you all, as best as I can.
The mother of Mark Rodriguez, a 17-year old who was killed during a shooting rampage, came and spoke to InterVarsity. Last May, in a matter of minutes, she was thrown a curveball, unsure how she was going to make it through the next 24 hours.
She talked about how she made it through and what her son taught her along the way. Her focus was what it means to life a raw life.
Being raw is telling God we want all of Him. All. Come close, lean in, and give me all.
“Raw” backwards is “war.”
We are in a war. When life throws you a curveball, what are you going to do? You are going to do what you trained to do.
The speaker used a poignant analogy: We start out in the swimming pool. We’re living our lives, relatively comfortable and peaceful, yet we’re swimming in shallow water. We were made for the ocean. The ocean’s full of beautiful fish and plants to enjoy, but it’s also full of danger. There are sharks and waves. And the water is deep. We have to train first. Our training is the quarry. We have to learn to survive there first, before we can thrive in the ocean. We don’t want to go into the quarry. It’s cold and murky—we can’t see in front of us and we can barely move. But God is there, beside us, telling us that He won’t let us go. He’s our trainer. He’s going to hold on to us until we’re ready for the ocean. Will we trust Him?
Training will not be easy. But God is holding us all the way.
Waging a spiritual war consists of three components:
Relentlessly love others
All around us God demonstrates His beauty. I see Him in the glorious sunset. I see Him in the turning of the leaves from a bright green to a brilliant orange. Nature proclaims His glory. We just have to look for the beauty.
God demonstrates His beauty in our daily interactions too. Anticipate that God is going to show up. So much of “being” is living in the present so that we don’t miss God’s work. What if our first thought in the morning is, “When is God going to blow my mind?” If we go into the day expecting Him, we are going to find Him.
Being raw is anticipating God’s beauty.
Acknowledge your sin. We’ve all got it (Romans 3:23). I have an immense amount of pride. I constantly compare myself to others. The truth is that I’m not good enough. I never will be. There will always be someone who is better at me. And I don’t have to be good enough.
When I heard our speaker say that, something clicked inside of me. It’s one thing to acknowledge that I’m not good enough. It’s another thing to acknowledge that I don’t have to be good enough. It’s not one of those “Awwww, it’s ok. You don’t have to win as long as you’re having fun.” Instead, it is “You don’t have to be perfect. You can stop striving. Embrace your imperfections.” Embrace your imperfections. Wow. If only. Yet that doesn’t mean stop striving for excellence. That means stop beating yourself up when you make mistakes.
Another aspect of acknowledgement is understanding what God did for you. I didn’t choose God. I chose me. I chose to put myself over God in my decisions. And I do it again and again every day. But God, in His love and mercy, chose me. He ripped me from the grasp of Satan. And then, He bestowed righteousness upon me. Why do I not have to be perfect? Because God’s grace is enough for me. Grace is unfair. It is absolutely unfair that God would choose me when I rejected Him. But grace is all about defying expectations.
Being raw is acknowledging our sin and humbling ourselves enough to accept God’s grace.
Relentlessly Love Others
This is where worship and acknowledgement connect. When we take our eyes off ourselves and place them on God, our perspectives and actions shift. When we stop talking and start listening, we love others more. We learn to care about people. We see how God is working in their lives and see how we can be part of His plan.
Smile. Say hello. Learn names.
The temptation though is to make love a checklist. However, our love should come from our attitude. According to his mom, Mark prayed that he would “love with an amicable, relational attitude.” What 17-year old prays that? For that matter, what human prays that? That is crazy awesome. I dare you—pray that prayer. And get ready to start influencing people.
Being raw is treating others like royalty.
Mark touched so many live in just seventeen years (http://wavy.com/2014/06/02/student-remembered-for-his-faith-music-and-photography/). He continues to touch lives (www.GodIsSuperGood.com).
So now I’m asking myself, what do I want to be known for?
People are going to remember who I was to them. They’re not going to remember my grades, my jobs, my house, my clothes, or my income. They are going to remember how I made them feel.
The quarry is worth it. It transforms us into people who don’t simply survive but people who thrive. Believers and unbelievers are thrown into the quarry. We will all go through it, regardless of our faith. The question is: are we going to pass the test? Are we going to make it to the ocean?
When we live a raw life, we are training, so that when we reach the quarry, our responses continue to be worship, acknowledgement, and relentless love. Then we will thrive.
– – Phebe