I have, like 50,000 other 18-25-year-old students, just returned from an incredible three days at the Passion Conference in Atlanta.

Wow. As if Louie Giglio, Francis Chan, Beth Moore, Kristian Stanfill, Hillsong United, David Crowder, and CARRIE UNDERWOOD (still fangirling) weren’t enough, Jesus showed up. And man did He show out. The energy in the Georgia Dome for those three days was incomparable, and I am so blessed to have been a part of it.

I am a serious type-A. Most of you know that. Well, the New Year always brings out my fresh start, type-A, want to make resolutions side. And that was how I felt about Passion: I felt like I needed to get all my ducks in a row and make sure that I was good and ready to have Jesus speak to me.  But that was the key: I needed to be wrapped up in a pretty bow before I could show up, otherwise, Jesus may not meet me there. I put a lot of pressure on Passion to be this monumental thing that would forever change my life because that was what it was supposed to do. And I had to make sure I was praying all the right things and having the right quiet times and getting my heart in the right place because otherwise, this wouldn’t work. Passion was right here at the beginning of the year, and it was supposed to fix me for the rest of the year. I was afraid that it wouldn’t “work right” if I didn’t do my end of the deal first.

Of course, I didn’t consciously think this, but am I alone in this? Am I the only one that feels like they need to fix themselves before they go to the God of the universe rather than recognizing that He is the one who heals us? I doubt it.

I was having a wonderful time, praising Jesus and singing my heart out when this truth hit me like a ton of bricks. I heard these words (bless you, Crowder) and felt weak:

God, I fall down to my knees, with a hammer in my hand

You look at me, arms open

Forgiven, forgiven

Child, there is freedom from all of it

Say goodbye to every sin, you are forgiven 

Oh man. This hit home. I don’t need to put myself together before I go to the only one that can (newsflash: trying to fix yourself before you meet with Jesus does not work because we can not fix ourselves) because He loved me way before I was anywhere near saved. He loves me even as I hold the hammer than nails him to the cross. There is no trying to get Passion to work. There is NO work. Jesus has done the work: he did it on the cross. My life purpose is to enjoy him and enjoy his love, and the rest will flow from that. I don’t need to “hold up my end of the deal”. The deal is already sealed.

I am forgiven. We are forgiven. Now, when the Father looks at me, He sees his sweet son Jesus on the cross. I stand perfect before the God of the universe because of this.

Not only am I forgiven, but I am free. What a beautiful word: freedom. Jesus didn’t just open the door for forgiveness on the cross: he opened the door for freedom. Freedom from sin, from death, from Satan. Freedom to not be perfectly put together all day everyday. Or any day. I am free to love my Lord wholeheartedly without needing to check boxes or fix my own problems. I have found a friend who hears my heart and seeks to hold it and cherish it. I have a savior who knew my weaknesses and chose to die for me anyway. I have a God who is sovereign despite what happens in my life and will hold me no matter how much I mess up.

So I come home, thanking my sweet Lord for saving me from my own desire to fix what I can’t. And isn’t that a beautiful truth: I would be in a real mess if I had to fix myself on my own. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for what you paid on the cross and for loving me even as I held that hammer in my hand. Thank you for freeing me from sin and death. Thank you for forgiveness.

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