I was probably 15 or 16 when The Reason For God jumped out to me at a local bookstore. I was attracted by the black and white cover, boldly designed with nothing to hide. I grew up in the faith, but craved the confidence and conviction that leapt out to me on that book cover, so I bought it. I never really finished it. But a few years later, my cousin came to visit from San Francisco and wanted to visit Redeemer. As soon as she mentioned Tim Keller, I remembered his book cover and bold statement of truth. That confidence and faith I always craved it, afraid I was missing it. So I went to a service on the West Side.
David Bisgrove preached that day. I forget the sermon topic, since it was almost 4 years ago, but I do remember vividly my walk back home. I was excited! I had many questions and felt that this would be the place I could have them safely and thoughtfully answered. Also, the insightful and relatable principles he spoke about made the gospel very relevant to me. The sermon stood out from others because it did not feel like religion, it felt personal and truthful.
Jesus suffered for us so we didn't need to try so hard to be loved...It was truth, boldly stated, gently and lovingly told, and it has helped liberate me from self-doubt and anxiety so I could be free to love others.
When I moved to the city for college, Redeemer became a place of escape and renewal for me. It was where I could make sense of a deluge of different thoughts, and more importantly it was where I could hear the truth about myself in love, without ever fearing that it could hurt me.
Soon I joined the college ministry to get plugged in, and solo too. It was pretty intimidating to meet new people after feeling comfortable with the same 60 people in my class for the last 3 years, hitting the books for the rest of the time. I wasn’t good at small talk, but I wanted to fit into a community. I shared this with Michael Keller, the college ministry leader, and he told me about the theology of rest. That Jesus suffered for us so we didn’t need to try so hard to be loved. The unconditional love, that grace, was something I had always heard about. But I had never matched it with the innermost desires of my heart: to be loved and accepted. It was truth, boldly stated, gently and lovingly told, and it has helped liberate me from self-doubt and anxiety so I could be free to love others. The change is slow, but it had to begin somewhere.