I sat just outside the main venue all day interviewing others. I had a few minutes before John Piper would be sitting down with me—-he was still on the platform speaking—-so I snuck in the back and sat on the floor. He was nearly 4,000 people away, so I just sat and stared at the carpet. But I had walked into something.
God with us.
God was showing himself to a room full of women, and staring at the carpet felt like the right thing to do.
Piper said, “If you love the glory of man you do not love the glory of God.” I started shaking, but the room was already trembling. We weren’t trembling before a man, we were trembling at our souls before God. Scary thoughts raced through me as he spoke.
Do I even love God?
Why do I crave everyone’s approval?
I want to fear you, God, above all else.
I want to tremble before you every day.
Piper prayed, and I looked up. He was gone and on his way to sit down with me.
I wiped tears and ran to the chair and the cameras rolled. We planned to talk about the conference and the women, but it all seemed small and trite after tasting God. International peace treaties would have felt small at this point. So instead we talked about the glory of God and the day Piper will face Jesus.
With hundreds standing around wanting time with him we stood. I was going to say “thank you” and find a corner where I could fall apart. Instead he looked me in the eyes and said, “Tell me about you.”
The war unleashed in me fell out in a few words. “I’ve just begun my journey into the world of publishing and speaking about God, and I am scared I am going to lose my soul. I am scared I will crave the glory of man more than the glory of God. I would rather die loving God most than die having had a successful ministry. I want to run from this.”
He smiled at my tears and then spoke words that will mark my spiritual life. “When I was just beginning to write and receive praise for it, I felt the same fight. So I quit. I went back to being a professor.”
An exit strategy from my new writing career began formulating in my mind as he continued. “But the fight followed me. I found myself fascinated with accolades and longing to hear about the lives of students who were changed by me.”
He continued, “If the fight for my affection was going to be everywhere, I decided to fight in the place I loved. I love to write. I don’t know why, but I love it. So I am going to fight this war here. We aren’t alone, Jennie. The apostle Paul even fought it. We all are fighting to love God most.”
I gave him thin words of thanks and handed him over to the many waiting to try to thank him, too.
How do you thank someone who gives you God?
As I write about this today I am burning. Our God is worth this fight. And if there is a sober, honest bone in your body you’ll admit that this is a fight! It is a full-on war to love God more than any visible thing or person on this earth, even more than ourselves.
In the moments I tremble before God I wonder how I could ever, ever love anything but him. He is better. He is joy. He is where our souls were made to be.
You can’t run from the fight. It will follow you wherever you go.
Tremble on. Fight on. You are not alone.
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