I tweeted Bob Goff a few days ago because I was hoping he’d tweet me back.
I heard Bob’s name for the first time only recently when I was sitting next to a waterfall in Oregon with a truly spectacular man. He was talking a mile a minute, telling me all about his relationship with Jesus and how inspired he’d been by this guy named Bob.
He began to tell me a few stories about the guy- something about a marriage proposal and something crazy about a glacier- but then he closed his mouth and shook his head- insisting that I had to read the stories for myself.
I bought Bob’s book, Love Does, and dutifully packed it up in my car as I drove across the country.
So when I tweeted Bob- hoping that maybe he’d tweet me back, I scrounged around for his book and looked it up and down… sure that it was something I should read sooner rather than later.
A few minutes passed and my phone buzzed. I stared down at the screen in disbelief.
It was a reply from Bob- “Great Stephanie! Speaking at the Catalyst conference in Atlanta on Wednesday… want to come?”
I was so surprised I nearly fell off of my roommate’s bed.
I sped into work the next morning, bee lining it for my desk… and for Bob’s book.
I had received a pretty fantastic invitation and I knew that the best thing I could do was to get to know my host a bit better.
The amazing thing about God is that He knows us really, really well.
I’m not sure why Bob Goff picked me, out of the thousands of people who follow him on twitter (and who had probably finished his book), to be his guest for the day. But I’m certainly glad that he did.
Not just because it was really cool, and not just because I got to be friends with Bob Goff, but for a reason that’s much bigger and much cooler.
You see- by inviting me to the conference, Bob inadvertently invited me to read his book- I thought I’d be a terrible guest if I didn’t. And by inviting me to read his book, Bob invited me into a whole new depth of knowing Jesus.
For the past month- maybe even since I got home from the World Race- I’ve been in a pretty nasty spin cycle with God.
Somehow, in my attempt to incorporate my ‘race life’ with my ‘home life’ and my ‘race relationship with God’ with my ‘home relationship with God,’ I began to think that all I needed was some ole’ fashioned hard work- and maybe a little sweat.
But then I got home, and for some reason I just wasn’t quite as good at ‘working hard for Jesus’ as I thought I’d be.
I would encourage myself, giving myself goals and pep talks, thinking that maybe I just had an off day and I’d be better at loving God tomorrow… but when the next day came, it just got worse.
If I could be just a little bit better, if I had been a little bit more disciplined, if I had turned around twice and chewed a piece of gum and closed one eye and then hopped on one foot- then maybe I’d feel close to God again.
Well- you can probably see this coming, but that ‘theology’ just wasn’t cutting it. I was getting more frustrated and more discouraged by the day.
In Matthew- Jesus talks about some religious people. He says that when all of this is said and done, they’ll come to him and say, “Hey Jesus, we did all of the stuff that you told us to do! Aren’t you proud?”- expecting to be waved into heaven like celebrities on a VIP list. But in response Jesus looks at them and says, “I never knew you.”
I never want to be one of those people. But with the way I’ve been acting these past few weeks- thinking that I can ‘perform’ my way into Jesus’ heart- I’m afraid to look in the mirror, worried that one of those ‘religious people’ will be staring right back.
And so with my feet up on my desk, and Bob’s book in my hand, I opened up the first page feeling pretty desperate. Something wasn’t working and I had no idea what to do.
As I read Bob’s book, I felt like I had been invited to the dinner table at his house. I felt like my feet were tucked up under me and my elbows were on the table, and I was leaning over, listening to his family tell me story after story that had me tearing up, gasping and laughing out loud (except for the fact that I was doing all of those things in the middle of my office.)
The way that Bob talks about Jesus is the way he talks about his best friends. He talks about Jesus without fancy Christian language and without big words and a degree in Old Testament Theology.
In fact, the way he interacts with God seems remarkably childlike…
And it is!
Bob leaves trails of childlike faith wherever he walks- bringing others into the delight, laughter and ‘whimsy’ of living life with Jesus.
And at some point during that ‘dinner’- it felt like he and his family scooped me up and carried me into whimsy. It was like they had invited me to take off my ‘big girl shoes,’ telling me that it was ok to walk barefoot, letting the sand squish between my toes. I could stop trying so hard. I could take a breath.
He reminded me that God invites us to live really miraculous stories- stories full of fun and goodness and things that make you rub your eyes in delighted disbelief. He reminded me that I don’t have to perform, or be the best, or the biggest show off in order to be included- but that the invitation had already been tweeted- I just had to say ‘yes.’
Bob walked up to me that day, arms outstretched, welcoming me into a big hug and an instant friendship. We walked around the convention, laughing and telling stories, and he introduced me to everyone we saw. “This is my friend Stephanie!” he told nearly everyone in Atlanta.
Bob had no idea what he was doing for me when he invited me to be his guest- but God knew.
God knew that I needed someone to remind me of what’s true- that God doesn’t love me because I’m amazing, He loves me because HE is.
I needed someone to remind me that the world that we live in is full of fun and laughter and love and that ‘big girl shoes’ are not a requirement.
I needed someone to remind me that the invitation into whimsy and delight is always there- we just have to tweet back our ‘yes.’
Thank you so much Bob. It was a pleasure to have met you!