I think my new home is Waco, TX.
If home is where the heart is, my home is in Waco.
If home is where the mind is, my home is in Abilene.
If home is where the spirit is, my home is in Heaven.
I think it is very interesting to be back home and see old things.
I see things I used to like.
I see things I used to do.
I see things I used to write.
I see things I used to think.
I see things I used to dislike.
I see things I used to fear.
I see things I used to hope for.
But for me, I think that every one of those things has changed.
In high school, I was a very different person than I am now. I lived an unclean life, full of hidden sin. My inner hopes (you know, the ones you would never admit but that control you) were set on attention from girls. I was addicted to sexual sin. I lied about many things to cover up my sin. My mind was filled with lies from the evil one, such as "you will never be free of sin", "what you have done is too bad to tell anyone", "God needs you to get over your sin and conquer it before you can really confess it", and "You need a lot of personality characteristics to be liked or to be influential." My dreams were that I could marry a beautiful woman and have a really cool job at a really big church where I could be really cool, have a lot of cool stuff, be around a lot of cool people, and still "fulfill" my inner desire to live a life for Jesus.
Now, I am changed. Most of the last two years has been a PAINFUL process of relearning most of what I have learned. I have come to realize many things about my life. I have learned that it is okay to fail. That "sister" means sister. That freedom comes from Jesus, not from me. That people are to be loved and trusted. That I can confess the worst things I have ever done and thought and still be loved. That healing comes from vulnerability. That radical Christianity requires radical discipline. That I really wasn't living out half of what I thought I was. That I wasn't following Jesus, as much as my heart desired him and my mind knew him. That complete freedom is real and within reach. That God desires to be my friend. That I can suffer a lot and it isn't the end of the world. That my world is TINY and SHELTERED compared to reality.
It has been a hard process. I have had to walk some rough paths. Some dark and lonely paths. I have had to confess sin. I have had to face up to secrets that were discovered. I have had to cry out to Jesus to change me. I have had to repent. I have had to reconcile myself to close friends. I have had to turn away from things I wanted. I have had to say no to opportunities that were ideal.
I have failed even in the midst of change. Yet this year, for the first time, I am seeing the real fruits of discipline and surrender come to bear in my life. I have been walking in very consistent freedom from all sin this year. There have still been some absolute mess-ups, some bad ones! But I look at my life and I see a changed person! I am not the same as I was Junior year, Senior year, Freshman year, or even Sophomore year! All because of Jesus Christ, I am now living a life of righteousness!
Not to say that I won't fall again. I am sure that I will. I believe that God has bought 100% freedom for me, and I won't settle for less, but I realize that my fallen, ugly, deprave flesh is ever seeking to take over again.
I have realized one huge truth that has displaced more lies than I can count:
Jesus is EVERYTHING. I am NOTHING.
I have nothing to bring to the table. I have NOTHING to offer Him. All my good works are utter CRAP to Him. And more than anything, apart from the Spirit of God, I. WILL. FAIL. Every time. Without exception. The ONLY thing I have is the GRACE OF GOD sustaining every breath, every righteous choice, every MOMENT of my existence. And the second I try to do something on my own, I FAIL.
What a hallelujah! What a beauty! I cannot do anything, but I have a God living in me who is able and willing to do EVERYTHING!
I think one of the biggest flaws of my Christian life, one of the largest sources of pain and frustration in my life, is my stubborn desire to accomplish things myself. On my own strength. I am SO PRIDEFUL! How dare I try to accomplish ANYTHING apart from the Spirit of God! Who do I think I am! HE IS GOD! I AM MAN!
The more I realize that I am evil and Jesus is Holy, and that to live from myself is death but to live from Him inside me is life and peace, the more I love Him, cherish Him, and look like Him!
I went through a season this year where every morning I read psalm 16. One of the best parts of that chapter is the verse that says "Apart from You I have NO GOOD THING". I would meditate on this, say it to my spirit, hammer it into my stubborn heart, until I KNEW that it was true. I cannot afford to live a single day on my own strength!
Another reason this is beautiful, this grace of God, is that it means when I fail, I don't have to be ashamed or feel condemned. I am utterly appalled and deeply grieved by my failures, but it has a good side to it as well - it reminds me again that I am nothing to be proud of; neither my actions, nor my thoughts, nor my intentions. I don't have to be ashamed! I can fully realize my depravity, and fully embrace Jesus's total victory over it! If I fail, SO WHAT! Of COURSE Thomas Wilson failed! Thomas Wilson is a joke, is a sinner, is a failure. THOMAS WILSON IS DEAD!!!!!!!! But because of Jesus Christ living through me, I have been RAISED BACK TO LIFE through Him who overcame the grave, and I am able to BE - not just aspire to be, hope to be, dream to be, - BE, a MAN OF GOD! A man of INTEGRITY. A man of the TRUTH. A man of RIGHTEOUSNESS. A MAN OF HOLINESS!
And that's who I am.
I think that being home for me is hard because as I live at my old house, hang out with my old friends, see the old sights, hear the old sounds...I start to think my old thoughts. What a dangerous thing. However, I now know the secret to overcoming. It isn't something crazy spiritual or out-there. It is discipline. It is hard. It doesn't always feel right. But it is WORTH IT because IT leads to FREEDOM!
The only way I have been able to live a life of freedom here at home this summer is the fact that I have found a life-giving routine of meeting with Jesus face to face every day in the midst of my old life. It is transformational. I should know. I have become a completely different person. Sure since I accepted Christ, I was a new creation...but now I LIVE like a new creation! What freedom and Joy that brings! To know that I have become a new man. Wow. And not because of anything I could ever do. ONLY BECAUSE OF THE INCREDIBLE GRACE OF JESUS CHRIST. ONLY.
Praise be to Him who will complete the work He began in me upon salvation. His wisdom has been my guiding light. I have found communion with the father I would have never dreamed possible last year.
And the funny thing is...
I'm still learning.
I have made a lot of progress. gosh. a LOT. of progress. But I STILL HAVE SOOOOOOOO FAR to go. I am learning many things right now. I have been reading "The Heavenly Man" by Brother Yun and it is wrecking me. It is destroying me. I am realizing more and more that the life I want to live is not all happiness. I must suffer.
The reality of suffering and sacrifice is emerging as I read about the hardships faced by Christians all over the world. I am guaranteed persecution...not necessarily something I was hoping for, but nevertheless, it is part of my life. I have chosen a narrow path, and I am only starting to see how narrow it really is. But there is so much joy in this path too. I live for a greater kingdom than this world. My hope is set on a greater goal than this world has. And daily I am filled with a greater joy and peace and satisfaction than this world has! Jesus Christ has called me to leave everything for him. And I must obey. I must. To be a christian...I must. I will.
If home is where the friends are, my home is currently in about 5 different continents. The call to go and make disciples of ALL nations is reaching my ears. And one week from today, I will answer that call by stepping on a plane that will leave America. I will say goodbye to the amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesty and say hello to the beauty that is Cape Town, South Africa. I am excited. I think that a part of my heart will be left there when I leave. But we will see, very soon, if that is true.
For now, I will remain constant in prayer and faithful in discipline. God said "Ask, and I will give the nations to you". I am asking for the nation of South Africa right now! For the duration of this last week at home before I begin my summer adventures, I will ASK.