87:13

87:13

Don't be part of the 87 percent.
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I walked into church my junior year of high school. At this point, I had my license and began going to church alone because I found a lack of satisfaction at my mom’s church. Maybe I am wrong, but I am pretty sure this was the first time I went to church in an “adulting” way and just really had the message hit home. Being a normal teenager, I came to church, sang the songs, and grabbed my phone with the intentions of opening the Bible app and following along. Oh look, my best friend texted me; I must reply. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram look pretty tempting, too. I might as well multi-task. This, shamefully, was me almost every week.

Just as I was about to get into the normal swing of things, my pastor simply said this: 87:13. (Oh, so that’s where you got the title.) His next lines honestly shocked me, and up until last year, I thought that his numbers were a bit over exaggerated. 87 percent of the people who grew up in church or went to church in high school didn’t continue on that path when they reached college. That’s a huge number. I bet you think I am making this up, too. Only 13 percent of the people who attended church prior to college will stick with it into adulthood.

For once, I lost my desire to tune out. Considering I was a year away from college myself, I was glued to the message. I remember thinking to myself “why would people want to do that?” “I would never be like those other people.” After that message, I began to really dive into the message on Sunday mornings. In all honesty, there were are times that I still can’t make myself focus, (I think way too much) but it did change my perspective on active listening in Church.

As college time approached, I found myself torn between New York City, Alabama, Belmont University, and Carson-Newman University in East Tennessee. CNU was actually my last choice, but I know, looking back, that if I hadn’t attended there, I would have ended up in the 87 percent.

Remember earlier when I said I would never be like those people who stop attended church? Oh yeah, it’s time for that story. Here’s how college works: Class, homework, meetings, organizations, work, sleep (for like three hours), and repeat. This schedule is an understatement sometimes. After a run-run-run busy week, Friday and Saturday are spent on socializing and sleeping. It’s easy to spend Saturday night with friends up until 3 or 4 in the morning. Before we start that busy week again of no sleep, we think to ourselves that we have to get that on Sunday, right? So we skip church and tell ourselves “I’ll go the next time” or “I’ll just watch online” knowing that we have no intentions of doing either.

I spent my first semester of college in this struggle boat. I put it off until the next week and the next week after that and the next one after that. I found no interest in going because the further away I got from it; the harder it was for me to remember how much I needed Jesus and fellowship in my life.

My best friend constantly invited me to church with her, and after probably the twentieth time of being asked, I just gave in and went. And guess what happened next? I loved it. I could have (should have) slapped myself for how long I went without church because I told myself it wasn’t important. I thought that “well, I know I have a relationship with God, so He understands.” Did I really? Did He really? My relationship with Him may have existed, but I was stuck in a no progress zone. Think of that as the equivalent of dating someone but never pursuing them. You do nothing to get to know them, you never spend time with them, and eventually, that relationship doesn’t really exist. That’s kind of how I was treating God. Also, he didn’t understand. Why would he? We are told to constantly pursue Him and seek Him in all things, and here I was doing the opposite.

If you haven’t caught on to the theme of all of my articles, then I will tell you how the next part usually plays out. After learning and realizations, I still have natural stubbornness that takes me on a detour to get to the right road. So, after thoroughly enjoying this Sunday morning of church, I had all intentions of going back the next week. However, by the next Sunday, I had forgotten how much I really enjoyed it and naturally, I again chose sleep. Weeks went on like this, but eventually, God was just like “Listen Demi. Get your lazy self up and go to church.” The morning I decided to go back, I had a simple phrase come to mind: 87:13.

I suddenly remembered junior year of high school when I swore to myself that I wouldn’t turn into that 87 percent. Yet, here I was. This way of life that I thought was ridiculous had become my life. I felt so ashamed and couldn’t believe I had let myself get this far. After this, I thought of that phrase every Saturday night when I contemplated skipping. I fell in love all over again with God and His word and His way.

Recently, I asked a couple of friends to go to church with me and they laughed. They literally laughed. What’s so funny about that? Their reasoning was that they didn’t want to get up that early. They didn’t want to be up and ready by 10:30 am.

87:13 is real. It’s easier said than done. It’s taken the best of me, the best of my friends, and maybe the best of you. Don’t be part of the 87 percent. Be part of the thirteen. Let’s make that a larger number. Maybe thirty, or fifty, or maybe, if we are really lucky, 90-100.

Also, don’t just show up on Sunday mornings to fulfill your to-do list. Replying to your texts and liking Instagram pictures isn’t going to get the message across to you that God has prepared someone else’s heart to teach you. Don’t just sit there and take notes while your mind is elsewhere. Actively listen. Actively participate. Actively show up. Actively pursue your relationship with God.

Be the thirteen.

Cover Image Credit: Demi Agresta

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To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved
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To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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5 Facts About Spiritual Gifts That You Need To Know

Different gifts, but from the same Spirit

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1 Corinthians 12:4-5 states; "[4] There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. [5] There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord." We see that there are multiple spiritual gifts, but they all come from the same Lord.

1. We all have different gifts and that's okay

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Just like a body has different parts that each has its own function, that's like the body of Christ. We all have different gifts and different purposes, but we're all part of the body of Christ. God has a plan for you and has given you certain gifts. God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the calling.

2. There are various spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible

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Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4 are some of the bible passages that talk about spiritual gifts. Giving, leadership, mercy, prophecy, service, tongue interpretation, administration, discernment, hospitality, missionary, and evangelism are some of the spiritual gifts that people can have. We can desire any gift, but it's God's choice on what gifts He gives us.

Remember, everyone can receive speaking in tongues via baptism in the Holy Spirit, but not everyone will get the gift of tongue interpretation.

3. Spiritual Gifts are supernatural abilities that are either given or enhanced via the Holy Spirit

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God gave us these Spiritual gifts because God wants to invest in His church.

4. Spiritual gifts are for strengthening others

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We have spiritual gifts in order to help others.

5. It does take time for gifts to mature and develop

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Like with a skill that you have, it does take time for you to own said skill. You put in the work, and because of that, you grow in your skill, and you get better. That's the same way with your gifts. God gives each of us certain gifts to use, and it will take time to mature those gifts.

Spiritual gifts are important.

In Romans 12:6 states; "[6] We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; [7] if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; [8] if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully."

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