when we were on fire, we let tears fall on night grass as we “rededicated ourselves to the Lord.” we vowed anew to let every waking breath be spent on saving souls from hell. we were twelve.
when we were on fire, we walked to the library together and sat a seat apart so that when someone occupied the in-between one, we could conspicuously begin to discuss John 3:16 and “did you KNOW that God so LOVED the WORLD??”
when we were on fire, we claimed our neighborhood for jesus, and walked around it 13 times (just like joshua), singing “Our God is an awesome God” and praying the walls would fall like jericho’s.
when we were on fire, we decided that being a missionary was the only calling worthy of someone who was on fire.
when we were on fire, we memorized every Steven Curtis Chapman, Michael W. Smith, Jaci Velasquez, Rebecca St. James, DC Talk, Newsboys, and Third Day song. we worked their merchandise tables and hung out with them at amusement parks. we played their songs at pool parties, and judged anyone who would dare listen to that “secular music” (except country. country was okay, for some reason… except we felt secretly guilty for loving it).
we could say all the books of the bible in one breath.
we rejoiced when someone prayed the Sinner’s Prayer at “Action House”, and wept when she said “i didn’t mean it” the following week. we worried about her when we went to her grandfather’s funeral, and realized she came from a catholic background.
we had mountaintop experiences we tried to stretch out to all our days.
we learned about being a teenager from Brio magazine.
we signed up to be prayer partners with Dawson McAllister.
“we” became “i” as we went to separate christian colleges, and i was sorely disappointed at the lukewarmness of all around me. didn’t they care?
i was also disappointed on “mission trips” that didn’t seem to have the same… fire? i’d come to expect. they would even *gasp* take one day out on the trip for touristy stuff (how can we be wasting our time here like that??). my mission trips before had always been hard. cold showers. squatty potties. scared to death reciting our memorized testimonies. serving from dawn till dusk, until every muscle ached, and it didn’t matter that our tent had blown away or been flooded while we were gone. we managed. so swimming in the caribbean? touring shanghai? it felt wrong, useless. i was about more important things than that. i was on fire for God.
i kissed dating goodbye.
i didn’t kiss anyone until my wedding day.
somehow, for me, being “on fire” went hand-in-hand with getting it all right. obeying all the rules, being godly, and finding the emotion to go with it in Singspiration worship nights and campfires.
so as i have distanced myself from legalistic church structures, i find myself tempted to look at that girl that i was with disdain. how could you have fallen for all those shouldsy burdens being passed off as life?
but i am learning, slowly, to have compassion. for myself. for my younger self. for the ones who are still on fire. to listen and welcome and embrace even those parts of me and the church that remind me of all the pharisaism of before. to witness it, and love God for what he has done, how far he has brought me into grace and the light of freedom.