That moment when you feel so convicted, so humbled, so completely devastated… But in a good way. I had one of those moments not long ago.
I was sharing with a friend about a trial that hadn’t come my way after all – a close call, a scare that turned out to be nothing. I heard myself confess that, while a big part of me was incredibly relieved and thankful, a tiny part of me was actually disappointed. Because on some level I knew that if God had allowed that trial into my life, it would have meant that we were going on a new journey together. I found myself longing for that special closeness, that deep connection with Him. In the most painful experiences of my life, His presence has been the sweetest. A part of me mourned that we were not to share one of those precious times together.
Suddenly I could almost see the face of Jesus –the way I think it must have looked to Peter when the cock crowed the third time. And in my heart I heard Him speak, with such great sorrow:
“Do I really have to give you that trial for you to draw close to Me? Is that the only way? What is keeping you from coming to Me now?”
And I was utterly undone.
In the midst of all the lyrical beauty, the poetic heights, the theological power of the first few verses of the Gospel of John, we read these devastating words:
“He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.” (John 1:10-11)
He was rejected by His own people.
Sometimes He still is. Rejected by us.
We’re so busy and distracted… or so anxious and fearful… or so stubborn and unyielding… so determined to have our own way.
I realize the Amplified is an unusual choice of translation for a memory verse – all those definitions make it a little awkward, a little unwieldy. But look at what it really means to believe in the Son: “to have faith in, to cling to, rely on.” Isn’t it awesome that He never needs His space? He always wants us to hold onto Him for dear life! Eternal life…
Look at what it means to reject Him, to disobey Him: “is unbelieving toward, refuses to trust in, disregards, is not subject to.” If I’m honest, those words sometimes describe me. They describe certain areas of my life, certain attitudes or habits or behaviors. Things I have not fully surrendered to Him. There are times still when I harden my heart, when I don’t receive Him – when instead I shut Him out. And then I wonder why I don’t experience the gloriously abundant life He has called me to.
“If some Shakespeare could write the vast, elemental, boundless, fathomless tragedy of humanity, it would be that we loved our sin more than we loved God.” – A. W. Tozer
I don’t want that to be true of me… but sometimes it is.
That’s one of the reasons this summer I’m soaking in the Son. I’m reminding myself who He is and why I love Him and what it means to believe in Him and walk with Him.
I’m not waiting for more pain and suffering or stress or drama or trauma to push me into His arms. I’m running to Him now, grabbing hold of His hand. Happy and excited to be with Him. Ready for the adventure that lies ahead!
This Week’s Assignment:
Read John Chs 1-3. Take your time and really immerse yourself in the Word. (For tips on how to get the most out of your Bible study time, see Five Simple Ways to Focus on the Words You Read.)
Memorize John 3:36. If the Amplified is too difficult, feel free to use another translation. (The remaining eight weeks, we’ll be using the NIV, NLT, and ESV.)
What keeps you from experiencing a closer relationship with Jesus? Why does it sometimes seem so hard to really believe – have faith in, cling to, rely on – Him?