Before I was born, my mom prayed for a “red-haired fireball.”
Her prayer was answered. I’ve been baptized, educated, and confirmed in the Catholic faith. Essentially, I’ve always known who this Jesus fella was, and that He was a pretty neat dude. I served mass as an altar boy for 8 years and went to Kuemper Catholic School for 13 years. I completed Christian service hours and took theology classes on Scripture, Morality, and Peace & Justice. It was easy practicing my faith–I was surrounded by a community of Catholics that walked alongside me on my spiritual journey.
But then I arrived at college. I could no longer assume the student next to me was Catholic, much less Christian. I felt like I had been sheltered from people with different faith backgrounds. It was discouraging to the point where I felt disconnected to my own. Sadly, I lost what strong conviction I had before, feeling like a lone man on an island. I no longer felt equipped to profess a faith as the only ambassador.
I could preach to the choir, but I couldn’t go across the street to a man who’s never known the name of Jesus.
How do I approach him? I can’t relate to him. What do I say? It’s easier to just keep it to myself, yeah, I’ll just do that. Of course, that’s the considerate thing to do. The last thing I’d want to do is make someone uncomfortable because of my beliefs.
And that worked. I became an undercover Christian.
I’d listen to Christian music, but only with my headphones in. I’d volunteer my time to serve others, but if someone asked me why, I’d probably just say I like to help people. I stayed away from any Christian organizations, because I didn’t want labels of being a Jesus freak (a label I presumed would fall onto me). I was so concerned of what people thought of me, my identity, that I would curve my beliefs around their judgment. Surely if I would reveal my faith, I would receive twice the critic eye for my actions. I couldn’t live up to those kind of expectations!
“The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.” Matthew 7:25-26.
I had built my house on sand.
As soon as it became tough to be a Christian, I swam with the current. I spent more time trying to build a levee to protect my house on sand than solidify my house on rock.
I’ve realized this later than sooner, but no levee will withstand the floods that enter our lives.
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15: 58.
I know I’m not quite where I want to be, but I’ve started to tear down my levee. I’m not concerned with how high the tide is–Our God is Greater. I’m strengthening my house by moving it back to solid ground. Tell me of a stronger foundation than that of our all-powerful, all-loving God. Remind me of the countless times when floods have washed away foundations of fame, fortune, addiction, and idolatry.
This world can be cold and bitter
Feels like we’re in the dead of winter
Waiting on something better
But am I really gonna hide forever?
Over and over again
I hear Your voice in my head
Let Your light shine, let Your light shine for all to see.
Start a fire in my soul
Fan the flame and make it grow
So there’s no doubt or denying
Let it burn so brightly
That everyone around can see
That it’s You, that it’s You that we need
Start a fire in me
-The song “Start a Fire” by Unspoken
It wasn’t until recently that my mom described me as “a fireball for Jesus,” and it made me step back.
I pray that I’m able to defrost my faith and let it warm the hearts of those I’m near. I pray that I kindle the flame of my faith, but never use it to intentionally harm. I pray that I let go of my own identity, so that I’m purely a reflection of my Savior.
Serving for The Bridge has moved me to become more transparent in my faith.
From meeting with Jay once a week in our mentor meetings to witnessing the ministry at The Bridge; it’s clear to me that the only way to live out my faith is to fully surrender, no conditions attached. I know that will be a challenge for me as I continue my walk, but I believe that’s the only identity worth striving for.
I’m blowing my cover.
I’m a Christian, and I stand firm on my house of rock with a fire in my heart.