The whole church service today was absolutely beautiful. And compelling. And edifying. We, as a church, heard the earnest prayers from the lips of mothers and fathers to raise their children to follow hard after the Lord and we were able to lift up our own affirmations and promises to help these children seek the face of our good God. Then we were ushered into a time of worship that spoke so much healing and life into my soul, I had no idea how thirsty I really was until we sang the ancient hymn that charges our God to bid our anxious fears goodbye. Oh! How I long to rid myself of these anxious fears. To really believe that Jesus is one day returning and that my life is but a vapor, a minute, a drop into eternity. And yet, how careful God has been to bring me to Himself these past few years. How pressing, and purposeful, and painful my walk has been. I just sat on the living room floor, watching the clouds dance through our skylight and I was overcome with a deep need to confess. Everything. All of my fears and insecurities and all of my reasons for telling God that he can’t use me. I am prideful and cynical and self-centered and a slave to people’s approval and I have no idea how to really believe that I can get out of all of that.
I know that my true identity is found in the person of Christ. I know that I died with Christ’s sacrifice and it is no longer I, but Christ, who lives in me. But I can’t stop tripping over me. I can’t stop wrapping myself up into the same insecurities which convince me of how helpless and restricted I am in the Kingdom work. Even as I write this, my mind is thinking, do I share this? Would it be prideful to write a blog post about this and plaster it on the internet and expect some kind of kickback from it? Am I so scared of the approval (or lack thereof) of other people that I dare not post something that wouldn’t connect with all of them? Am I desperately longing to be influential for all of the wrong reasons?
But here is the honest to God truth about me, friends: I want people to know that Jesus is coming back and I want to see them celebrate, rejoice and weep with joy when that day arrives because they love their Maker, and they took Him at His word. I want to lead people to that place. That place where your ordinary life doesn’t stop being ordinary but it starts being hope-filled. Where nothing, no circumstance, no haves or have nots, can rob you of the secure and absolute assurance that Jesus Christ has wrapped you in righteousness. That when you stand before God He will have removed your sins as far as the east is from the west. Not because I was awesome or even faithful and certainly not perfect. But because Jesus was and is.
Even for all of my shortcomings, I am a daughter of the Almighty God. I will be singing when my Savior returns to make all things new and right and whole again. But what about right now? Am I faithful to my ‘right now’? Sometimes, y’all. Sometimes. But other days I am overcome with anxiety and bitterness and a rotten ego that fouls up every good intention. So I wake up and ask for grace the next day. Some days I am overcome with awe and find myself staring at the world I live in and loving the beautiful and hating the crippling evil. Some days I shake with grief at the millions who don’t know Jesus. Because even though it offends many, those who don’t know Jesus will not know eternal life. And it’s horrible. But it’s the truth.
Some days I get the feeling that God wants to reach deeper into me and push me farther than I would go. And the only reason I don’t go, the only reason I try to run away from Him is because I’m scared about what other people will think of me. How would they feel if I told them they need Jesus? They would hate me! They would judge me! They would paint me in a corner and put me in a box labeled “Crazies” and I would have ruined any chance of the Holy Spirit intervening and opening up their hearts to a freedom I could never put into words. Because apparently the Spirit can’t work through the awkward conversations? I have this obsession to say it right. To say it perfectly. But sometimes God tells me to write out the aches and pains in my heart and resist the temptation to clean and polish all of those sentiments and insecurities. Because He desires a contrite and willing heart over sacrifices. He longs for obedience, not a State of the Union on my soul.
If there’s anything I’ve learned from having a relationship with Jesus for almost 20 years, it’s that He couldn’t care less about my accomplishments. He cares about my affections. Always. Always He will place Himself in the center, with a jealous love that surpasses any connotation our small minds can conjure up about that uncomfortable word “jealous.” God doesn’t pout and sulk, as we do in our finite and foolish jealousy, He makes it so that He no longer has need to be jealous. He wrecks our walls of stubbornness, He throws over the idols in our hearts with no gentleness or subtlety but with a love that refuses to be undermined by a lie. It hurts and it cuts and it heals. Walking with Jesus is not about a “Happily Ever After” it’s a “Be the light of the world” even when the darkness is deafening and everything around you mocks you for believing. You believe anyway. You shine anyway. Faith is a life surrendered to pleasing God in the here and now, without always knowing the how, when, who and hanging desperately onto the “Why.” Why do I believe all this? Because He first loved me. He first loved you.