Thursday, 13 September 2007

Give Me Jesus

In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus

When I am alone
When I am alone
When I am alone, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus

When I come to die
When I come to die
When I come to die, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
You can have all this world,
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus

(song by Fernando Ortega)

Some months ago HeIsSailing described his own feeling of queasiness at the love for Jesus that is so ubiquitously present in Christian circles. Since then, I often considered the way in which I have come to love the Lord Jesus. This is my response to his question, "why do you love Jesus?"

I didn't always love Jesus. Even after I came to be thankful to him for what he did for me, I didn't feel that I loved him. It was easier for me to think of loving a spirit-God than a human-God. I felt a kind of awe at the holiness of God, and I could imagine him loving me as a Father would - but Jesus? - He was too close for comfort in some ways, and in other ways I felt that I could never know him as I might his Father.

I too felt ill at all the gush-y-ness that seemed to flow out of other Christians at the mention of his name. I just couldn’t feel it. I felt grateful to the Christ who came from heaven and shared the human experience. I could respect Jesus, the historical person who dealt with people so compassionately. Maybe my deepest feeling was reverence for the God the Son, who became the Messiah. But there was no emotion welling up in my heart, no love as we commonly know it for the man Christ Jesus. I couldn’t understand where other people were coming from. It all seemed so fake and so nauseating to me.

Suddenly, I came to a crisis in my life. I guess, thinking back, it wasn’t all that sudden, but I was thrown on almost every level with a force that took my breath away. I spent a whole year searching for the God I had sensed and trusted as a child and poured my heart out to as a teenager. I didn’t care what his name was – God or Jesus or something else – I was desperate for someone to answer me. I felt utterly abandoned and alone. I prayed, but the words rose slowly and woodenly from my heart, only to hit the ceiling and come tumbling back again. I read the Bible, but it was just words. I walked outside almost every day and looked up at the sky. I had only one prayer – “If you can hear me, I can’t hear you; please talk to me, touch me, let me feel that you are there.” I knew there was a God; I just wasn’t sure how much it was possible to know him or how much I mattered in his great scheme. I feared him, but I didn’t love him. I didn’t even feel I knew him. I ached for more than a great and vast Creator; I needed something personal, something warm and deep and near. I wanted to be touched by the kind of God who would create a tree, a dog, a soul. At the same time, I was aware of a vast cavern within myself that made me want to hide from God – a deep ugly blot that made all the good I tried to do flimsy and fake. I knew that if there was a God, then my sins were forgiven, but I was filled with self-loathing and I felt utterly alone.

After a year of groping about in the dimness of my weary self, I was reading my Bible – rather hopelessly – when I heard the “still, small voice” once again. Suddenly the words on the page were no longer just words, clanging senselessly against the metal wall in my head. They had meaning. They were spoken to me. I was reading in Psalms 16:11 – “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy.”

There were no flashes of light, no angels singing; but from that moment, I had hope that the God of the universe knew me, and that it was possible to know him, really. I don’t know how or when exactly I came to the realization that he was Jesus. All along, I had known the great Ruler of heaven. I had reverenced his holiness, I had even felt his fatherly kindness from afar. But he had shut himself off from me so that I could realize what I was missing – the personal God.

Jesus is (still is!) a human, in addition to being God. He knows what it’s like in my life. He is touched by my weaknesses. He has been here. I can love him as I love another human being, because that’s who he is. But you can’t love someone you don’t know. When I came to a place of longing for Jesus (even though I didn’t know it was him I longed for!) that was when I came to know him. He crept in softly, and lit a flame, and sat beside me. By the time I was aware that he was there, I knew he was the one I had needed all along.

When I am overwhelmed by the loneliness of humankind; when I feel the howl of a vast wilderness waste in my soul, Jesus comes near. He lights a fire and I am warmed from the inside. He listens, and he understands. He is a sweet relief from the cold, grasping darkness that grips me suddenly, inside and out, because he is light, “and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5) He is love, personified. While the presence of the almighty God fills me with awe and wonder, and a strange longing for something deep and old, Jesus gives the warm comfort of a dear friend. I know God in the ocean, the stars, and pour out my soul and bow before him; but Jesus is here with me.

More recently, I have come to appreciate the Jesus presented in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series as Aslan. He has a wildness, an animal-ness that is very like the Jesus I know.

I still don’t like the gushiness that is poured out on the weak-mouthed, white-skinned, blue-eyed Jesus of mass-mediated Christianity, forever holding out his hands to be touched. But I love the God who knows what it is like to be hungry and lonely and catch a cold and have dirty feet. I love the God-man who is utterly free –and offers me his freedom! - from the dark selfishness that rises up and threatens to choke me. I love Jesus, at last.

When the bottom drops out of my world, give me Jesus. He is enough. Only he is enough.

6 comments:

joeyanne said...

I still hate when the bottom drops out of my world. But I love the fresh view of Jesus that it affords. I love the sweet comfort that was there all along, only I had become too self-absorbed to notice. His presence is like a bite of fresh fruit after a week of nothing but junk-food. (ok, i realize that's a strange analogy, but it makes sense to me :)) He is wholesome and real and solid and true comfort. Thanks for the reminder of Who I have been missing. And He was here all along.

Kenny O said...

Hey how r u doing?
Just wanted to let u know that www.proverbs1810.blogspot.com is back up and running, with getting married and all i got alittle distracted! chat later

bjk said...

Thanks for this....I will be rereading it and celebrating that there are people like you living witnesses...writing in words that are very understandable and real without confusion....thanks it IS how I feel as well.

bjk said...

How are you doing?

travis said...

Authenicity is a valuable witness trait! Thank you!

Robert said...

your writing shows the incredible goodness of God thank you for stopping by and commenting also i will seek to apply your remedy a smile and being complimentary is very good medicine ty jenny po