“There is more. The offer is for so much more.”
This is a quote that I heard while watching the live simulcast of a memorial service honoring the man who spoke these words, Craig McConnell. It was given by his son-in-law in tribute to this spiritual giant’s core belief that,
“Whatever experience you had, there is so much more for you. Did you experience God’s presence? There’s more. Are you experiencing joy right now? There is so much more available.”
There were so many wonderful things said about Craig, but this really stood out to me and stuck fast to my heart. It seems strange to cry for a person whom you have never met face to face. I did not know Craig, but he seemed a friend or an adored uncle. I listened to him for the last couple of years whenever I had the chance on Ransomed Heart’s weekly podcasts. I watched him in several videos produced by Ransomed Heart, including the Wild at Heart video series, clips from boot camps and the Killing Lions series. He shared his heart and bore his soul to his tribe, those of us who hunger for more than what has been offered by the status quo church.
I was so deeply moved by the memorial service and I carried it with me throughout the rest of the day. There was sadness and such a sense of loss, but it ended with such hope and that hope was embodied in those words,
I watched Craig’s memorial service on a Saturday, so the next day, my husband and I were on the schedule to participate in our church services. My husband is a sound engineer and I sing on the praise team. This Sunday was a little different because we had a guest speaker, a “traveling evangelist.” It’s always a little scary having a visitor speak because you never know what you’re going to get…
This guy…was something else.
In the south, this is the point where we just say, “Bless his heart…”
To put it in a nut shell, half of his sermon was repeating and dissecting our church’s statement of faith, the second half was what can only be described as a plastic gospel presentation using wackadoodle arm movements and “short cuts for sharing Jesus” using jazz hands. There were lots of words…lots of repetition…so many words, and not really saying much. There was a painful disconnect from reality in his approach. At one point he even made a joke about being asked back, which gave the impression that it doesn’t happen very often, if ever.
I cannot begin to tell you how disheartening it was. I was kind of sick to my stomach. The circus act unfolding before me stood in such stark contrast to the holiness of what I had experienced less than 24 hours before, it was almost more than my heart could bear.
To give you a little context, my sisters and I have a long, long, so very long history of struggle with the church. I am still somewhat young, but often I feel spiritually old because of the accumulative effect of erosion on my heart. I love the church, and I do not ever want to forsake it. She is the bride of Christ, and for better or for worse, she bears Christ’s message of hope for the world, but this guy was not helpful. It was a painful reminder why I am constantly fighting the desire to hold the church at arms length.
I left church that day completely discouraged and thoroughly disenchanted. I found myself asking, “Is this ‘the more,’ Jesus? Is this the offer? This can’t be it, it just can’t be.”
I have to say, Jesus is so infinitely and scandalously good. I had no idea how he would answer that question in the week that followed. By the sweet mercy of Jesus, we happened to be heading out west for our family vacation to Colorado Springs, Colorado. For those of you who may not know, that is where Ransomed Heart is based. That is where Craig McConnell was doing his final work on this side of the Kingdom, loving on his family before he went home to be with Jesus.
Honestly, I still can’t believe that we went there. I had mentioned to my husband in passing that I would love to go some day. My branch of the family tends to dwell in wistful mentions of ‘some day.’ We tend to be philosophers and dreamers, while my husband’s people are definitely doers, and they do things very thoroughly, methodically and very well. Talk about ‘opposites attract,’…but I am so grateful for the balance! I guess after nearly sixteen years of marriage, I should know that I can’t hardly mention things ‘in passing,’ because my husband is apt to act on them! I confess, if it were left to me, we never would have made this trip. I always worry about how much it will cost or if it’s really practical, or if it’s the right thing to do.
I’m always afraid…of everything.
It’s scary for this flat country girl to be in a car in the mountains. I used to completely wig out when we would go over a hill if I couldn’t see what was coming beyond the crest of it. Needless to say, it made road trips a royal pain in the hiney for my parents, then later my husband…poor guy. Apparently I have a great aunt who curled up in a ball on the floor of their RV for their entire trip through the Rocky Mountains because she was so afraid. I really didn’t want that to be my story, especially since this was my first time to see the Rockies, but I was struggling with some serious anxiety about it leading up to our trip. My only hope was that I would be so enchanted by the beauty of it all, that I would forget to be afraid.
The other serious concern that I had was the fact that I am currently in the worst shape of my entire life. God help me, the struggle has been real for as long as I can remember and I was dreading going to the mountains with this body. What do people do in the mountains?? They climb them, they go hiking and other out-doors-ey, nature-ey type things. And not to be painfully obvious, but the mountains are way the heck up there…altitude was going to make it even harder for me. Our house sits on the second highest point in our parish at 100 feet above sea level. We live in the Louisiana Alps, for crying out loud!!!! There is no way for us to prepare our bodies for altitude. It’s just not gonna happen. Oh Jesus, I needed rescue!!!! I needed there to be more to my story than fear of things beyond my control and all of my crazy insecurities about my body!
In spite of all my worry, fear and insecurities, Jesus came through. We arrived to Colorado Springs and it was awesome. The Rocky Mountains are positively majestic. The weather was beyond spectacular, and we could not have asked for a more beautiful week to drink it all in. We encountered ‘the more’ in so many ways, it was beyond lavish.
Craig McConnell totally called it. Oh my heart, there was, and is so. much. more!
We encountered more beauty, more danger, more of the gospel spoken through creation, through mountains, through more stars than I have ever seen, stunning sunsets, sleeping in, cooking together, eating together, playing some very competitive games of UNO with our boys…so much more than I could have ever dreamed up on my own. Our time together as a family was so sacred. I have really fought the desire to give y’all a play by play of the entire week. However, instead of writing the Iliad and the Odyssey edition of our trip, I thought I would come back next week and share just few of the moments we captured in pictures, in which we were ushered into the more…and maybe a few of the things Jesus spoke to my heart.
So, I would be honored if you would meet me here next week to hear the rest of the story. It seems silly to think that my story will mean much to others, but maybe our stories are the most powerful weapons we are too afraid to wield. If anything, this is my altar to the Lord so that I will not forget the offer that Jesus is bestowing, to encounter and to be caught up in the more.
If you are unfamiliar with Ransomed Heart, check out their website here, and for those of you who feel led, there is a memorial fund in honor of Craig McConnell here to further their work in the Kingdom. God bless! ~Shanna