With iced coffees and our Bibles between us, a new friend asked how my experience of God could be real because of how often I talk about Him. She has jokingly made comments like, ‘Do you realize every 10 minutes you talk about Jesus or God?” At first, it took me off guard because the name Jesus has always been part of my life. (What a gift of grace.) It also prompted a trip down memory lane.
I would put money down on the reality that if you asked anyone from my 28 years of life, middle school teachers, high school friends, college mentors, they would say that though not perfectly, though with plenty of mistakes, that “Chelsea loves Jesus.” What they don’t know, that even I didn’t know until a few years ago, was that I lived a ‘Jesus + Something’ life. He was there, drawing me, growing me, loving me. And I was there, loving Him, pursuing Him, trying to live for Him. But my experience of Him had a ceiling, because I was an earnaholic. I lived with the burden of people-pleasing, the pressure of perfectionism, the idol of self-sufficiency and the comfort of anxiety.
Today, my life with God is far different than it has ever been because of one thing: desperation.
A few years ago, I was at the end of me and I was miserable and exhausted. Plainly, the way I was living was not working and I needed a new way.
Desperation led me to humility. Humility led me to surrender. Surrender led me to trust. Trust led me to joy. Joy led me to love.
Years of painful and gracious transforming revealed false beliefs, fear and pride so strong they were insulating me from God. So with the help of the Holy Spirit, I began to practice opening my hands and relaxing the white-knuckle grip I had on being ‘enough’ on my own. I needed Him to be everything for me because I couldn’t be everything for me. By the grace of God I finally understood: He is incomparable. Nothing and no one is like Him. Nothing and no one can be what He is.
If Jesus is not most precious to me, I’ll crumble under the hard, I’ll depend on control, I’ll despair over the painful, I’ll idolize the good, and I’ll be left to settle for mediocrity.
There is mystery with faith. There is also present and eternal safety. There is wonder, purpose, freedom and peace. It’s not always easy or natural. He requires all of me, and some days I stumble my way forward. But it’s the only way I know how to survive. Jesus Christ saved me. And He saves me still today. I cling to Him because being all about anything else, especially myself, will eventually crush me.
For it is Christ’s love that fuels our passion and holds us tightly, because we are convinced that he has given his life for all of us. This means all died with him, so that those who live should no longer live self-absorbed lives but lives that are poured out for him—the one who died for us and now lives again.2 Corinthians 5:15 TPT
This week is Holy Week, and friend-to-friend, I encourage you to look at your life, look at your insides, look at your relationships. Where are you at the end of yourself and your abilities? Where are you stuck in fear, emptiness, numbness, exhaustion, pain, or disappointment? Where are you needing a new way to be?
Try humility. Relax your white-knuckle grip on other things. Open your hands to Jesus. He is real and He wants to be real for you. He changes everything. And He wants to change everything for you.
“Love is why he came. It’s all love. The buzzing flies around the cross, the stroke of the Roman hammer as the nails tear into his screamingly soft flesh, the infinitely harder stroke of his own people’s hammering hatred, hammering at his heart — why? For love. God is love, as the sun is fire and light, and he can no more stop loving than the sun can stop shining. When we feel the hammers of life beating on our heads or on our hearts, we can know — we must know — that he is here with us, taking our blows. Every tear we shed becomes his tear. He may not yet wipe them away, but he makes them his. Would we rather have our own dry eyes, or his tear-filled ones? He came. He is here. That is the salient fact. If he does not heal all our broken bones and loves and lives now, he comes into them and is broken, like bread, and we are nourished. And he shows us that we can use our very brokenness as nourishment for those we love.” Peter Kreeft
If you want to talk about it, I would love to. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.