I have spent the last three weeks in Atlanta, Memphis, Arkansas, and Panama City Beach. These few weeks have been extremely exhausting and challenging, but blessings nonetheless. From January 1st-5th I was in Atlanta, Georgia at the Passion conference. Passion was intimidating for someone who doesn't like big crowds and comes from a Church of Christ background. It took place in the Georgia dome, and it filled up almost all of it. There were 65,000 college students from around the world all coming to praise our God.
When we first got to the dome I had really hardened my heart to the worship and speakers. I go to a nondenominational church currently, but whenever I realized how many people were going to be at this conference I figured that most of the worship bands and speakers would be trying to put on a show for all these people.
God used this trip to keep kicking down barriers in my heart. I had been putting up this huge wall prior to this trip. I didn't even want to go on the trip, to be honest. God kept tugging at me, though. Someone paid for my trip, I had some friends going, and somehow a spot opened and my boyfriend even got to come with me. Even though this was obviously God making it nearly impossible for me not to go, I was still resisting.
It wasn't until one of the last nights that I fully let God in. The worship was what first got me. The same worship that I had been trying to stiff arm this whole trip. We sang a song where we kept repeating this one line "I love you". I started recalling one of the worship leaders at Soma telling us one night at Refuge, "Don't sing it unless you mean it." And I still sang it! Even while thinking about how I needed to mean what I was telling God, I still kept singing! I was telling God that I loved Him for the first time in my life. And not only was I telling Him, but 65,000 other people were telling Him too.
All of the sudden I felt this enormous feeling of happiness. But it wasn't my happiness. It was God's. I felt how joyous He was that His children were finally that reciprocating! All of these prodigal sons and daughters were finally returning to Him. And His arms were open and His face was smiling and He finally said "YES! Come home. I've been waiting, and I love you too." I can't even describe it. All I know is that I bawled like a baby.
Next stop was Arkansas. Me and Trace made a road trip to see his sister for a couple days. His sister recently had a new baby boy. This little boy was the sweetest thing I had ever seen. I'm pretty sure Trace's sister was getting creeped out by how much I kissed him. I can't help it. Its like a moth to a flame! What can I say.
So in between my awkward smiles and baby voices, I started thinking how much love a mom can give to her babies. Even if the baby didn't come at the perfect time, it's instinct for her and other people close to her to love the baby. So- and this might be hard to picture since not a lot of people reading this have kids- if humans can love their children unconditionally from the get go, why is it so hard for us to believe that God loves us unconditionally? More specifically, why is it so hard to accept that love?
After being back in Memphis for about a day, we left again for Gulf Coast Getaway in Panama City Beach, FL. To be honest, I didn't get a whole lot out of the trip until the very last sermon. The speaker was talking about how the bible repeats itself. How some stories are really similar to others. So if everything that God does is purposeful, that means that God repeated Himself on purpose. "Are you getting it yet? Don't you see? I can help with whatever you go through, because I've already helped generations before you. And I just want you to want my help. I love you."
I love you, too.