It’s never been that simple.

I had climbed, white Van next to white Van, into my little blue-grey Infiniti. Driving from one end of the city to be swallowed by the other, I saw her green shirt and great big-comfort smile as she turned the gold knob to walk up mahogany steps. The Tennessee sun had been coating us with thick heat. Shielded and sitting now, in her upstairs apartment away from the summer’s scorch, we would now be coated. With conviction.

A summer had meant this before. Instead of Tennessee, it had been Oklahoma. Instead of drives across town, it had been walks across a tin-sounding bridge. I’d listen to Audible books on these walks to work, and somehow I’d stumbled into The Insanity of God. Nik Ripken’s story unconsciously transitioned from the forefront of my mind to a deep wrestling within my heart.

Conviction. From the way he responded, simply to the words in Matthew 28 of the Great Commission.
Conviction. From his action at his conversion, seeing the call of salvation as the call to obedience and ministry.
Conviction. From his simple choice to walk the streets of Somalia and ask where Christ is in such a world of pain, need, depravity.
Conviction. From his wholehearted choice to move his family, give up His comforts, surrender daily, and seek to know Christ more, often wrapped up in our steps of making Him known.

Conviction, leaving me pressed with so many thoughts and underdeveloped emotions, pressing to know: what does it really mean to follow Christ?

Now, here we perched, the book this time not flowing through Audible, but its content being deeply audibly discussed by two faltering humans trying to fall forward into chasms of greater grace.

We’d had these moments of deep-dive consistently. Driving hundreds of miles to and from the mountains, we opened our hearts to the heart-grappling of what it means to pray without ceasing, what it takes to love sacrificially, how it looks to live on gospel-mission. Being washed over by the salty Savannah sea, we wrestled with the problem of pain and the reality of hell, the cost of discipleship and the image of true mentorship.

Now, I sat, gray bean-bag holding me as I held up the moment of vulnerability feebly to her, telling of my current seasons of conviction recently clarified through a phone-call with my dad. Focus. Discipline. Perseverance. These are what I need right now. These, on the post-hardest-of-hitting-depression residue of inerted laziness. Of the conviction verging on condemnation deep pack-pressed into the center of my soul.

The Lord has a way of making us restlessly uncomfortable until we are compelled to move, to change. For better or for worse. Maybe some call these turning points, but I’ve crossed enough “turning points” to realize me, in my fleshy strength, turn and then turn right back around.

I call these moments wake up calls, reality checks. And I’m finally checking into the reality that I’m still grappling, and that grappling may simply be a way of life, and maybe even a healthy check to check that we still are loving and chasing after the Lord not only with all of our heart but also with all of our mind.

Conviction. From the lives of Jesus followers deep within pages.
Conviction. For the way I’ve been distracted.

What does it truly mean to follow Christ?
What does it look like, daily, to not only surrender my life to Christ but to wield my days in submission to Him?
What is the cost of discipleship for me in this season, the pinnacle points of where I start giving so much that it truly hurts?

What does it look like to be loved by God?
How does that love compel all actions?
How do we love people well?

What would it look like to not be afraid of evangelism?
How does my day change knowing that each day people are dying without ever having heard the name of Jesus Christ?
How do I live knowing time is short and the days are evil?

Answers to these questions? I could rattle them off without blinking. And that’s part of the problem. I’ve dove before, dove into them and so many more ponderings. I became so heavily overwhelmed. I dove too hard that I lost my ability and will-power to dive at all. I can face questions of what does it look like to be loved by God and move on, without a heavy helping of the wonderous weight of glory wrapped up in that question. I can face the question of the unreached reaching death before a servant laying down their life at Jesus’ feet, without laying down my stubborn and hard heart to be moved to tears—tears that there’s so much need, tears for the way I’ve let the burden of these realities freeze and crush me instead of accelerate me to compassionate action. I’ve grown used to flipping the question of how I love others well into how come they don’t love me well enough? It’s as if I’ve lived a million lives inside my mind, run these questions through and through till I’m just through—burntout and seemingly full of answers but full of little heart-reconciliation with the truth, little perseverance to keep seeking, hard.

But I was riding the wave the other day, the converging crest between conviction and condemnation, not sure if I was going to ride through or be crushed, falling in and circling in the dark, bubbly-suffocating water-sheets. I wanted to know that I was right. That avoiding these questions which seem to haunt me wouldn’t mean my days would be haunted with the regret of the time I thought wasted. That maybe there was a hope of forgiveness.

Forgiveness. Love? Maybe the flipside of condemnation is a disciplining yet powerfully tangible love that covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). But what they don’t tell you is that when something is covered, not only is something no longer seen, but something else is seen instead: love. The championing blanket covering of the death-wrought, grave-defying finished work of Jesus Christ.

It’d never been that simple.

It’d never been that simple of “hey, Deborah, dive into all your questions and you’ll be able to figure it all our and feel good about the way you’re living again and have a nice bowed-up, answered life.”

It’s been only simple. Only a simple start of being broken. Broken to my prideful desire to have all the answers. Broken over my sin of avoiding the questions because they felt hard and uncomfortable. Broken into seeking, seeking what it looks life to live with the world’s unreconciled pain in the reality of a reconciling Savoir. Broken into realizing the only way to not be broken, crushed, thrown back into overwhelmed-too-much-sinking-depression is to break into the scared hands of Jesus. Broken enough to realize that condemnation is not of You, but conviction is the settling place of refueling and clarity. That forgiveness means we are covered in compelling love to no longer just hear the questions and religious answers but to be moved to action (James 1:22). That the only way I can make a turn is by recognizing I cannot make any turns, but Christ has turned towards me and can turn me in the heart-level renewal I need.

For it’s simple that forgiveness covers us even when we stop seeking as we should.
For it’s simple that Christ is the greatest answer we need.
For it’s simple that God is working out His Sovereign plan not only around us but in us.

For I’m being broken and convicted and simply unsure of where all of this is leading. But I’m simply sure I’m learning what it means to not shut down in this state, like I so recently have, but to shut-up my worries and doubts and frantic-figurings to be quieted, stilled, and centered in the assurance of who He is even in the midst of a process I cannot fully understand.

Conviction, here.
But Him, also here, closer than I know.


I definitely don't want this to be a monologue. What are your thoughts? Questions? Ideas?