Almost 10 years (next month) into this faith! I just have one reflection:
Maybe everyone doesn’t need Jesus for them to have a productive, quality, fulfilled life… but I do. Personally, I do.
This is what I mean when I say “Maybe everyone doesn’t need Jesus.” Look around and you will see many different people: Churched. Non-churched. Muslim churched. Liberal unchurched. One common thing about everyone: so many people seem to lead happy lives–I can think of three relatively close friends off the bat–without Jesus or religion. Big world, everyone has his and her own energizers, safety nets, saviors , and it isn’t always Jesus. It can be music, financial stability, a relationship. Even without Jesus, they actually are doing quite all right in life. Of course this is just the outside view, and I could be wrong, but I would place bets on the probability that can people have good lives without acknowledging or drawing strength from God.
Jesus is commander of all. He did make everyone from every generation and intimately knows each one. His father is the source of every good gift, it’s he who sends rain and sunny days on both good and evil, and yes, you will go to Hell if you don’t approach him in his prescribed way. I’m just saying it’s possible to enjoy all his good things on his planet and not even notice him.
Me? I need him. I’m one of those types that missed the physical fulfillment train, self-esteem boat, self-help submarine–I MISSED ‘EM ALL. Some people say religion is for the weak, for those who can’t get by without some imaginary God to hope in. Am I weak and that’s why I need Jesus? Yes. Does that make him imaginary? No.
My Jesus, he tangibly heals me quite often. Example: I cannot talk myself out of depression. Maybe you can. When I get the downers, I often get to the point of neglecting health and refusing sleep to spite myself. It’s wrong, and I take responsibility for this mistake at every stage. But eventually–not always at rock bottom–the thought finds me: “I want to talk to God right now.” And then I do. I talk, to God, yes the ancient and world-breathing God, in my little dark corner in my room with the lights off. I say, “Father,” and then maybe don’t say anything else for five minutes. But I ‘ll get at it again. “Father,” and then something else, like “Are you just using me for your glory?” or “Why did you leave me?” or “Why did I leave you?” Then sometimes another pause, or even sleep, but I’ll get back, and now the words really begin to flow. Words. Tears. Anger. Remembrance. Silence. Then silent peace. How do I know this is God? Well, when you are down and a friend hears you out, sometimes they can comfort you, and other times, no. But when this Friend, my God, hears me out, I kid you not, I am slain and reborn in my mind. That sick, angry, bitching Brendan literally is crushed, and what steps out of that room is a different being–a peace-filled, thankful, whole person. Every time, mind you. Every time.
When I’ve walked with God, I’ve been fearless. Two years ago I was able to tell the most strong-headed, fearsome guy I know (230 pounds, benches his weight, always leads and finishes conversations) , “You’re a proud man and you need God,” after sharing the gospel multiple times with him. In my first semester of college I told a crowd of peers about Christianity in my 10-minute “persuasive” speech. These days I don’t have the strength to “step on peoples’ toes” with the gospel. I’ve gotten soft–I’ve also stopped walking with God like before.
Nearness to Jesus has empowered me to love and work hard. In this world that runs on selfishness (consumerism), it takes considerable effort to get outside oneself and be someone’s friend–especially if they can’t offer you much in return. I was eager to love and serve people at my church though. It wasn’t compulsive or somehow beneficial for me like some of my service at Bethany (serving was a fast track to community)–I just wanted to bless. Impossible on my own! The last eleven months were me trying to love people without walking with God. Two words: Face and plant.
I’m not writing to convince myself that it’s true. I’ve seen and experienced enough to be sure that no one or thing on this planet is as revitalizing, assuring and unchanging as the God I met 10 years ago. Good food and sleep helps. Encouragement is a boost too. But Jesus has the words of life, and I need to walk with him if I want to live full. Again, this may not be true for friends like Daniel or Amena, but it’s for certain my only way to thrive. I mustn’t forget this. Please don’t forget this, Brendan. Please walk with God.
Happy 10 years, God. Thank you so much for sticking with me when my heart had left you.