Friday, February 20, 2015

Imagine Jesus sitting down with you to talk about your faith and what he can do for you to help you grow closer to God.  Does thinking of spiritual growth in this way help?  It helps me.  To visualize Jesus sitting with me and the two of us not talking about life in general, the broad and sweeping strokes, the philosophical or the theoretical, but the specific and personal.  Jesus has a microscopic view of my life and zeros in on the places that need attention.  He does this in a way that disarms me, causes my excuses and defenses to seem pointless. He makes me vulnerable and comfortable.  Sometimes I cry because of the absolute freedom of letting go of all the weight I carry around that I forget about except that it wears me out.  How does he do this? I inherently know I can trust him, that he has no ulterior motive, no hidden agenda.  It is all about being loved in a way that is far beyond anything we've experienced.  The helplessness we enter this world with is the helplessness we bear throughout, though we are fooled by the illusion of being in control.  Walls go up and we feel the need to be approved so we do our best to prove our worthiness.  
Is it any wonder Jesus said "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) and "'Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flowing from within.' By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive" (John 7:37-39).
The religious laws placed upon people were overwhelming and Jesus removes them and offers grace.  In our current cultural context the religious laws are less of a burden, but there are still expectations to be perfect, beautiful, handsome, strong, smart, innovative, valued for some reason and these are like weights attached to our limbs as we try to run marathons to receive pale substitutes for the deep love we are created by and for.  
If I am unable to sit with Jesus and have him assure me of this remarkable love then it is no surprise that I find myself hunched over and feeling twisted up.  And when he frees me from this ludicrous state of being, relieves me of the weight, satisfies my thirst with the living water, my eyes open wide to the desperation of others.  He sneaks something into my heart wrapped in his love like a Trojan horse of generosity rather than attack.  He sneaks compassion for others into my heart and I cannot help but see others through his eyes.  I cannot help but desire that others know the liberation I have been given.  This transformation from the focus on me being approved and valued (which inherently is opposed to others) to a focus on those with whom I have been in competition is nothing short of miraculous, that is, I cannot produce this on my own.
All of this from simply taking some time to be with Jesus and let him do for me what I most want, but can't do for myself.  

© Stephen Carl

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