Monday, May 8, 2017

Looking for Jesus

My faith tends to go through these phases… I think this is normal, based on conversations I’ve had with friends and family.

For months at a time, I’m all-Jesus, all-the-time. Every book I read is all about Jesus. Bible studies, multiple devotionals a day, spiritual memoirs.

My playlists are almost exclusively made up of Chris Tomlin, Lauren Daigle, Sparrows Rising, Matt Redman, Michael W Smith, The Newsboys.

Our NetFlix queue is filled with the movies I read about on Family Christian or spot on PureFlix ads. War Room, Woodlawn, God’s Not Dead.

Then something happens. I don’t know what. I guess if I knew, I wouldn’t be here talking about it.
I get bored, maybe? Maybe I forget that my blessings are his doing and not my own, or maybe I let the little things feel bigger than they are?

I just slip away a little. I don’t give up my faith. I still pray. I still praise him. I still proudly share my beliefs on mercy and forgiveness with my little ones. We still keep it on the Christian radio station in the car… but I don’t feel like I had. I’m just a step above going-through-the-motions.

Do you get that? I’m still right here, but for some reason I feel far away.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that today. I’ve been thinking about how this happens from time to time and how maybe it’s because I’m searching for Jesus in all the wrong places.

He’s everywhere, I know.

But really, he’s not.

He’s there when I’m warm and comfortable in my bed watching a Christian movie, and he’s there in the passenger seat when I’m singing along to the radio while being one of the richest people in the world, owning a car and wasting finite resources by driving places I could easily walk to. He’s there when I’m soaking in a tub of clean, safe-to-drink water and reading a book about somebody else’s journey with him.

~~~

When I was three of four, I asked my mom to play Hide-and-Seek with me. I thought of a perfect hiding place, one where she’d never find me. I tiptoed down the hallway and into the pantry room, lifted the lid of the deep freezer, moved a few items around, and lay down inside. 

Mom must have walked by me 20 times. I could hear her opening doors and closets, making the obligatory “Now where could Sara be?!” comments. I even heard her open up the pantry door and move on. 

Eventually it stopped being fun. I started to get really cold, cramped, and tired of the dark. I pushed up on the lid and couldn’t get it open. I tried a few times. I mustered all of my strength and really pushed, but that lid would not budge. 

I cried out for help. It took her a moment to figure out where my voice was coming from, but Mom came to help me. 

One of my earliest memories is one of sheer panic when I couldn’t get out of the freezer, and then a sliver of light before Mom’s terrified face filling my view.

~~~


Sometimes I get into this place and I think maybe I kind of expect Jesus to come to me.

Maybe I forget that nobody ever promised that this walk would be easy.

It’s like I expect him to be hiding poorly, just asking to be found. Maybe I’m barely even searching, just meandering around the house looking for toes sticking out from under a curtain or for a giant lump under my bedspread. I’m expecting him to jump out and say, “HERE I AM!” when I flip open a back issue of Guideposts listen to the radio DJ’s prayer.

I somehow forget in these moments that the best way to find Jesus is to go to Jesus.

The best way to find Jesus is to reach out and write a letter to somebody in prison.
The best way to find Jesus is to bake cookies for that young couple’s adoption bake sale.
The best way to find Jesus is to smile and ladle out soup at the homeless shelter.
The best way to find Jesus is to hug that scared, pregnant teenager and listen to her story.
The best way to find Jesus is to fill up a few gas cans and then sneak over to fill that single mom’s tank late at night.

Jesus is everywhere, kind of.

But mostly he’s hugging children with lice, wiping tears with his shirt, spreading salve on the oozing wounds most people dare not touch. He’s smiling at the man we all avoid eye contact with, asking him how his day is going. He’s dropping to his knees and praying with the woman crying in the Walmart bathroom.

He’s exactly where he needs to be… and I guess that’s where I need to be too.

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