Not that I have a cassette player to blast from the past with, but tragically my middle school mix tapes all warped from the heat in my parents attic. I used to tape over pharmaceutical sales training lectures on free little white tapes from my grandpa (a pharmaceutical salesman), so between each song taped off of the radio you would hear a random man talking about some scary side effect. All I have to say is: Avalide? Don’t take it.

My favorite mix had the theme song from “Casper” and oh, did I love that song! The entire neighborhood could confirm that too, as I sang at the top of my lungs, windows open, pretending the adorable “real” Casper was there to dance with me. “Queen of the Night” was also on that tape – I had no idea what it meant, but Whitney sounded fierce singing it. I kept the volume low because she says “damn” in the song and I didn’t want my mom to take away my tape (I’m sure she would’ve been fine with the part about wanting to “get loose and turn it up for you”).

Fast forward 15 years, not much has changed. I was driving the other day with my worship mix on random and 3 songs that have made an incredible impact in my life over the past decade played right in a row. With my windows down, I was singing so hard that the people next to me in a convertible at a red light clapped for the concert I was giving them.

But the Lord has been working in my heart and the familiar lyrics from these songs unpacked as if I had never heard them before. The theme? Abandon. Obedience. Surrender.

There’s a voice that cries out in the silence, searching for a heart that will love him
Longing for a child that will give Him their all
He’s searching for a heart that is desperate
Give it all, He wants it all
He says: Love me with your whole heart
Serve me with your life now
Bow down, let go of your idols
More of you – He wants it all today

Those sweet words kept taunting me: there is something more that He wants from me. I desperately want to give it – God, I’m the heart that will love you! But frustrated, I kept wondering what more is there?! And it occurred to me that it might not be something different than the identified list from the day before, but rather the willingness to turn over the same things again and again. He wants just 3 things:

To love Him with my WHOLE heart. To shed any interference in leaning further into Him and to unhinge from life the things that DON’T set us apart from the world. South Charlotte is ripe with people who go to church and claim Christ, but not many whose lives look different than those who don’t. “Salvation is free. Obedience can be very costly.” Most have taken the free part but have very little interest in the costly part. To me, this is what it practically looks like: stop spending so much money on happy hour (though I consume in moderation, it doesn’t look like that in my bank account or on my calendar, which must mean that if my treasure is there some little piece of my heart must be too) and stop investing in intimate friendships that the Lord is not moving forward or with those who aren’t also interested in loving the Lord with their whole heart. I’ve found that in that place my love it given to company, not developing purposeful community.

To serve him with my life EVERY DAY. I’ll continue to do my very best at the daily task at hand and to proactively use my gifts whether the opportunity seems immediately impactful or not. Practically? Be a good employee at the job God has provided, use the gift of writing to pen this little blog, and enthusiastically communicate and model Christian living for those who really want to love him but have never really seen it lived out before. Big future opportunity can result from consistent service, no matter how small the task.

To LET GO of my idols. This is the hardest one because my idols are not wrong in and of themselves – they become wrong when I want them too much or when I need to feel like I have control over them. I’ve written about this before, but again, I’m reminded “my love is not my own, it all belongs to You.” My practical example? Stop wanting to give my love to someone the Lord has told me: absolutely not. Twice. When I’m trying to give that love away, I’m actively bowing down to an idol (control) and not trusting that God will provide for me. “God is not a taker. He is a giver” and He can only give when my hands are open and not clenched around less than His best.

The same DAILY intentional choices to surrender and be obedient are tough to make without allowing the tedium to derail, although my wimpy list feels pretty silly amounting to this: ease up on social cocktailing with people who aren’t loving the Lord, don’t keep entangling yourself with someone bad for you and keep working on the things the Lord has directed me to work on. But I still pray this lyric: Lord I’m yours, I’m not my own! So keep me safe, keep me true – all I want to live for is You. Have your way with me!

And because I went to a college where Christian celebrities’ kids attend, my assigned seat in chapel was next to the daughter of the woman that made this song popular. In all of her New York style she drown me out, though I’d still like to think that I gave her a tasteful run for her money.