Monday, December 9, 2013

not a fan

I have to admit that I wasn't particularly excited when the pastors at my church presented a large group of us with a book and the challenge to read it over the month of December.

In fact, there is a chance I may have inwardly groaned just a little.

I mean, first of all, just so you know, I was right in the middle of another book (Inferno by Dan Brown) that I couldn't just stop reading. And, secondly, I just don't really love non-fiction. I need gripping, I need drama, I need adventure. Can I just be candid with you for a moment? Don't judge. The book looked a little boring. And I can't do boring books. Do not tell my pastors or anyone at my church that I just said that.

Heather Duncan Richardson's photo.

I finally finished Inferno over Thanksgiving, and there was nothing left on my list of Books To Read Before Picking Up The One I Don't Want To Read (besides the endless supply of home decor/toy/gift catalogues that come to my address daily), so the other night I grabbed not a fan by Kyle Idleman off my bedside table. I figured if it was as boring as I predicted it to be, it'd help me fall asleep.

I cannot put that book down.

No, it's not as adventurous as Inferno or as spellbinding as Harry Potter (get it...spellbinding...hahaha, I'm laughing at my own joke), but that guy Kyle Idleman is actually pretty funny. But his humor isn't what keeps my attention, and it's not the extra-small print that keeps me from putting it down at night. It's the concept behind the entire book: are you a fan or a follower of Jesus?

Of course I said follower. Obviously.

But then this guy Kyle (he's a pastor in KY, by the way) talks about how fans are typically a little flaky and easily dissuaded. And how even the hardcore fans don't commit when personal sacrifice is involved. How fans of Jesus know all about Him, but don't really know him.

Well, that got my attention. I know about Jesus. I even have a few Scripture verses (tastefully) posted around the house. I have my Bible on my tablet and my phone, and I go to church (most) Sundays to cheer for Him. I am what defines as a fan: a person enthusiastic about an interest. An admirer. A supporter. But when it comes right down to it, I was challenged by the thought that maybe Jesus doesn't just want an enthusiastic person. He wants part of me that I'm not keen on giving. He wants a committed follower, someone who isn't in it for just the miracles and the guarantee they'll go to Heaven. (not a fan, chap. 1) He wants someone who's willing to make a personal sacrifice, someone who knows that there will be a price for following Him, someone who's all in. Not just the big toe. The full monty.


Is that me?

See, I'm comfortable in this life I live. I like the conveniences I'm used to.  In theory, I could live with out them. In practice, I'm not sure I could. I like having God "on-call" when I need Him. I like bible studies that talk about 'being stronger' and 'not believing in the lies we tell ourselves' and 'being a beautiful woman in God's eyes'.  And those bible studies are great, don't get me wrong. I've done plenty of them and I've learned a lot. In fact, my life has changed dramatically by doing bible studies. But I don't like being reminded that this life doesn't come without pain or that our planet is in a world of hurt. I don't like being challenged on my faith when it means I might have to change. Sure, it would be a change for the better...probably. But still. It would require me to sacrifice, whether big or small, a part of me that is comfortable in the here and now. It would require me to trust Him far more than I'm willing to.

It would require me to go out on a limb when I'm terrified of heights.

I'm anxious to finish this book (extra points for me if I can finish it before January 1!!) so I can reread it. It's not the kind of book you can read one time and be done, but rather one that you read and reference continuously, each time finding a new gem to apply to your life.

Right now, I'm on Chapter 3: one of many or your one and only? And I know without a doubt that I'll be challenged even further, because honestly, Jesus isn't my One and Only. I know this. He's One of Many. And the Many sure are hard to give up.

It's not about being scared off from being a follower, but being challenged just enough to grow and mature. That's a hard balance to strike, especially if you come from a Southern Baptist background that likely put the fear of God into your very soul, making you scared He'd strike you down with lightening if you as much as looked at somebody in an "un-christian-like manner" (anybody?).

So thank you, Q and T, for challenging me. And for helping me grow and mature.

And for not scaring the Hades out of me.