I’m After You

Britt Nicole’s new album came out this week, and I may or may not have been listening to the song “After You” on repeat ever since… the song was initially my favorite simply because of its musicality, but the words have struck a chord in my heart and shed light on something I’ve fought with for my whole life.

“I’m not after the world, I’m after You”

That thought is so simple. And I think I’ve always glazed over the enormity of it.

I’ve always wanted to think my life was about chasing after my Savior. I know Luke 9:23; you must deny yourself and take up your cross to follow Jesus, but for some reason the simplest lessons can be the hardest for me to learn. For some reason I let my head knowledge justify that I definitely haven’t been doing much denying myself in my walk with the LORD.

The part of those lyrics that hits me hardest is the stark contrast. To be after Him, to be chasing and following my Savior, I can’t be after the world anymore. I can’t pick both. I have to aspire to be something so much higher than any earthly standard. I have to live to please my Savior rather than people.

That’s where the irony comes in though. Because to me that sounds like immense pressure. Having to live up to some heavenly standard sounds ridiculously harder than pleasing the world, but in actuality, it’s not. The most freedom I have ever found has been throwing off the chains I shackled myself with. I have bound by wanting to live for this world, wanting to prove something to this world, wanting to be enough for this world. But in the end, all of that is going to come to nothing anyway. So why is that what I waste all my time and energy doing?

Because I want it.

I want to please the world.

I want my parents, friends, mentors, professors, and everyone else to be proud of me.

I want to prove that I am smart, strong, responsible…

I am after the world.

My goals… have always been aimed at here, at earth. I’ve wanted the success, the grades, the popularity, the looks. And sometimes, I even convinced myself I wanted them for the “right” reasons. I convinced myself that I wanted to do all of those things for the glory of God, that working hard and being mature proved I was a “good Christian”.  And yes, I truly believe God wants me to work hard and do my best at the things I do (Colossians 3), but I have always stumbled in what my motives are for working so hard.

I have been a middle school camp counselor the past two summers, and I absolutely loved it. In and of itself, that role was about serving Jesus and pouring into younger students’ lives. But I quickly realized that I wasn’t always serving for the right reasons. I gave every last ounce of energy I had for those two weeks. I was constantly looking for ways to help someone else. I loved when an adult counselor would say, “Wow, you’re so responsible!” I loved when I got the recognition and praise. That fueled me. That made me want to keep going. That made me want to do more. But what kept me going wasn’t that I was pointing my students closer to their loving Heavenly Father. And that breaks my heart.

I don’t want to be after then things of God for the sake of the world anymore. I want to be after Christ alone no matter what this world thinks of me. No matter whether I get any praise. And even if the opposite is true. Even if I get ridiculed and rejected. The love of my Father should be all that matters. And I want to finally live in the freedom that can be found only in chasing after Him. I don’t want to try to please this world anymore, well, that’s not true. I want to, but I want to chase after Jesus more, and it’s way past time to actually get my priorities straight.


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Take the First Step

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, so my faith would be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior. 

These lyrics from Hillsong’s Oceans have been my heart’s cry time and time again over the past several years. I’ve begged God to lead me to where He wants me, even if that is difficult or scary or I can’t see His whole plan yet. And more often that not, that is the case. God promises that He knows the plans He has for us (Jeremiah 29:11) not that He is going to lay the whole plan out crystal clear before we get started. But He also promises that His ways and thoughts are so much higher than ours could ever be (Isaiah 55:9) and so I know He is trustworthy and that ultimately, I want to walk in His ways and not my own, because that will turn out so much better.

“A man plans his way, but the LORD determines His steps.” — Proverbs 16:9

God has called me to some big things, and most of the time, He doesn’t tell me how it is going to end up before asking me to start. He asks me to take a first step of faith and to “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7) every step of the way.

God doesn’t shine light on the whole path at once, and honestly, I am very thankful He doesn’t! If He did, I would probably be too scared to take that first step, or any step for that matter. If He started out by calling me to move to Africa I would probably say, “No way!”. But He calls me to the first step, and calls me to have faith, and He has never let me down. He’s always seen me through and I know He always will. Wherever His paths lead, I don’t have to know yet, I just have to know that I am going to trust Him to show me in His perfect timing.

“I am sure of this that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 1:6

That first step, might seem small. It might seem strange. It might seem pointless and be easy to brush aside saying, “Why would God want me to do that?” But God doesn’t call us to understand the whole plan. He calls us to trust. When God called Abraham He called him “to the land I am going to show you” (Genesis 12:1). God didn’t lay out the specifics or details, He just said go.
For someone who is a planner and perfectionist like me, that can be terrifying!! I’m often scared to take a leap of faith when I can’t see where I’m going to land. But God has reminded me time and time again that I do indeed know where I’m going to land. Safe in His loving arms. So today, right now, He might not be asking me to move to Africa, or to sell everything I own. But He might be asking me to clear my schedule, to pray over someone specific, to write a letter or make a phone call. It might be something small and seemingly insignificant — but I want to say yes. I want to take the first step. And see what amazing things God is going to do.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” — Proverbs 3:5-6