After that I liked jazz music.
Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.
I used to not like God because God didn't resolve. But that was before any of this happened.” Donald Miller.
Once in college a friends parents came to town to visit. Now, some parents were really great and took not only their child, but also their child’s friends out to eat. And Olive Garden was several steps up from the dorm dining hall so I hastily accepted the invitation. While gorging myself on all the salad and breadsticks I could eat, her parents made polite conversation and went around the table asking where we were from and what our majors were. Until the next question made me almost choke on my breadstick.
“Tell me how old you were when you were saved?”
I considered making up some ridiculous story about being rescued from a burning building when I was 6, or falling through the ice when I was 8, or almost being eaten by a lion when I was 11. But I wanted them to pay for my dinner and I was still hoping for dessert. So we all went around and talked about church camps or center aisles and anxiously twirled our pasta on our forks, hoping for a much less uncomfortable question next. I was afraid they were going to ask if we were all virgins next or worse, if we listened to secular music. (for the record, the answers to both questions was yes).
I should also add to the story, that at the time I was active in a church, active in a Christian campus ministry, was pledging a Christian sorority and even had a fresh Jesus fish tattoo on my foot. I also knew which liquor stores didn’t card and had a car full of rap CDs (and I am not even counting DC talk).
It’s not so much that I mind talking about Jesus. I totally dug the guy. It was just the phrasing. And the us vs. them. The in and out. Those clear black lines their conversation seemed to suggest. Which for the first time in my life suddenly seemed wavy and gray and dotted. (that and I never read about John or Paul or James or any of those New Testament heavy weights asking anyone when they “got saved”)
Last night I wondered off to a movie. Alone. And it didn’t start until 8 oclock, only showing in select theatres. Blue Like Jazz, based on Donald Miller’s book, or as he likes to call it “Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality” or as I like to call it “ramblings right up my alley”. And the movie was low budget, self produced and I wasn’t sure what to expect. And most of it was good and a little bit slow. (but someone please explain the life size rabbit driving the car part to me!) The movie didn’t start til almost eight. On a school night, which might as well be midnight to me. I wasn’t sure how they’d fit his book of ramblings into a plot…and some of it was a stretch. The movie runs for almost two full hours, and 90% of it is his undoing. His strict Southern religious background meets NorthWest liberal college and ideas.
He loses his faith in the NorthWest. And finds literature and beer and girls and a much more open mind.
But then in the last few minutes of a long movie. He finds it again.
But not the same strict lines he used to follow before. But something entirely different. Something way more pure and honest. And still the exact same God.
And I wonder what he’d say if someone in his dorm took him out and asked him when he got saved?
Maybe he’d answer “which time?”
So back to my uncomfortable dinner conversation. I had a clear answer to their question. But I think that maybe a more important one for someone who has been doing this thing for a while isn’t when we were saved. But maybe when was the last time you came undone.The last time you questioned.
The last time you wrestled.
You got lost.
And you came back.
Because he was waiting. With a robe and a ring and ready to throw a party.
And the prodigal didn’t come back to the same dad.
He came back to a better one.
And I’m doubting the dad changed.
“Believing in God is as much like falling in love as it is making a decision. Love is both something that happens to you and something you decide upon.” Donald Miller.