Tuesday night over dinner I confessed to John that when I read the Bible I feel so far removed from what it’s talking about. My eyes read, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable… if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Philippians 4:8)” but when those words travel to my heart they’re met with a blank stare. I know the Bible is important and applicable but I wasn’t reading it like it was.
John told me to spend time with the Lord and my response only confirmed how much I needed to:
“I don’t know what to do with Him.”
“Just sit with him. He’s really good at that. Trust me.”
The thought made me feel surprisingly uncomfortable… almost frantic. I can’t just sit with Him! Are you serious? It doesn’t work like that!
Ignoring my obvious discomfort, my dear husband got out of his chair, kissed my forehead and left me alone. I felt like he and Jesus were in cahoots and the joke was on me. Spoiler alert: I was right.
I glanced at the empty chair John had just vacated and before I knew what was happening, tears welled up from the deepest part of me and began to spill over onto the kitchen table.
I couldn’t look at that chair without crying. I know it sounds completely nuts but I don’t owe an explanation so I’m not giving one. I knew Jesus was sitting in that chair, in a way. Patiently waiting for me to acknowledge that He was real.
Without my consent, the Holy Spirit was pushing everything I had neatly buried in the deep crevices of my heart to the surface, “Say it out loud, Rachel. Just talk to Him.”
For a few fleeting moments I tried to talk myself out of it. “This is stupid. You can’t even look at an empty chair without crying? Pull yourself together!”
Instead, I was pulled apart.
I couldn’t pretend like things hadn’t changed in the past 3 minutes. I was crying over an empty chair, for Pete’s sake! So I turned my chair to make myself knee-to-knee with Jesus… and I admitted everything.
That I felt restless, undone, messy, and numb all at the same time. I told Him I didn’t want to tell Him my dreams because I was scared He would ask me to lay them down. I told Him all of them anyway. I told Him how many kids I wanted, what my ideal job was, the legacy I wanted to leave behind. I told Him I wanted to spread His Joy but I kept tripping over my own happiness and popularity. I told Him I was disappointed in myself. I wanted people to like me for how much I loved Him (a complicated knot to untangle). I wanted the Kingdom of Heaven to settle on the zip code of my choice so that I could influence people inside my comfort zone.
I felt an ache to do something BIG but wanted to make sure everyone else was OK with it first.
I tried to blame my spiritual apathy on the deafening ordinariness of my life. I acted like God was impossible to find because He didn’t fit into any of the expectations I had made for myself and my life… and for Him.
To which a quiet, firm voice replied, “I don’t remember promising you would ever find me there, Rachel.”
And something clicked.
Somewhere along the way I had accepted the lie that a life of faith was easy, predictable, and socially acceptable. So I became content with a life that was easy, predictable, and socially acceptable.
In reality, my life is hidden with Christ and Christ is challenging, radical, and uncompromising. He wants so badly for me to embrace surrender and crave the Father’s will. He knows what it takes and He’s proved that it’s possible. He patiently sat in that chair, not as a judge or a bully — but as the God who knows first-hand both the cost and the prize of obedience. He suffered for His joy… for my joy.
And so I scribbled in my notebook, “The most effective Joy-spreaders are the ones who faithfully carry their cross.”
I’m just being honest, guys. Choosing the invisible doesn’t always feel good and I’m not quite sure where we got the impression that it would.
I’m currently reading a book called Anything by Jennie Allen which I highly recommend for any Christian who knows a relationship with God is bigger than the routine in which they’re currently living. In it she says, “Christ never intended those who walked with him to feel comfortable and safe. This was meant to be a risk-it-all pursuit.”
I know I’ll still doubt and wonder and worry (how can you not when you’re walking by faith?) but something BIG has started in my little world. I don’t know what, or how, or who or where. All I know at this point is Why — because God is real. I want people to believe that, I want my life to show that, I want my heart to beat for that.
I left the kitchen table that night with one objective in mind: Pray.
So I’m praying.