The Gospel According to Me (On the Occasion of My Thirty Third Birthday)

Last week in small group we talked about the gospel, about how it’s not just a list of helpful facts but that it’s a story and, further, not just the story of Jesus recorded in our Bibles but, more than that, the story of Jesus lived out in our encounters with Him today.

Peter said in Acts, “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

The gospel is something you’ve seen and heard, a transformation you’ve lived. And every person carries a unique version. So that, in community, we tell hundreds (thousands, millions) of stories, and all those stories are the gospel.

My friend Eric has an awesome gospel. So does his wife Jodi. I really like my friend Joey’s—it’s a light in darkness gospel—and I see God more clearly when my friend Matt Cross tells his. Other friends of mine have known Christ for a long time but are only now, in their thirties, discovering Who He really is, and their gospels include recent discoveries in grace and freedom.

Every time we see God, every time we hear Him, our gospel, the Gospel, grows…

Two days ago I turned thirty three and I spent the day delighting in gospel, in the good news of transformation in Christ. Because at thirty three I am not the woman I was at twenty five. And by the grace of God I am not the woman I would have been at thirty three had I lived all those years without it.

In Christ I am changed.

Before Jesus, I was alone. A girl who never needed (or wanted) anybody. A girl who hid. Because of Jesus, I spent my 33rd birthday bathing in the love of friends and family, returning text after text, laughing on my porch over birthday cake on so many plates.

Before Jesus I was a disappointed disappointment. A girl with exacting expectations of everyone, expectations no one could live up to, expectations she never lived up to herself. Because of Jesus I spent my birthday thankful, surprised, and satisfied. Because of Jesus I’m learning grace.

Before Jesus I was proud, relying on myself—my abilities, my plans, my hard work—certain I could be enough. Because of Jesus, I turned thirty three, “career”-less and un-Pulitzer-Prized, and never asked myself “What are you doing with your life?” Not once all day. Because of Jesus.

I was nine years old when I came to Christ. I can’t remember not knowing Him. I look at friends who’ve come to Him in adulthood and see their transformations and I’m in awe. And I wonder what it would have been like to meet Jesus as an adult.

And then I remember that I have. That I do every day. And that every time I meet Him, I’m transformed.

When I say “before Jesus,” I don’t mean before I met Him that first time, whenever it was. I mean ten years ago. Or two weeks ago. Or yesterday. Every moment before this moment is, in a way, a “before Jesus” moment. Because Jesus is always showing up, always working wonders in my life, always changing me, washing me, stretching me, leading me, daring me…

The gospel isn’t just something that happened. It’s something that’s happening. It’s something that’s happening in me, and it’s something that can happen in you.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…