For a long time there, I just wanted an answer. Please, for the love, someone just tell me what to do.
And when I say long time, I mean years, right in the heart of my life.
I thought about it a lot. I’d waver back and forth between trying not to think about it and frantically trying to figure it out. Then I’d come up with zero, so I’d go back to not thinking about it.
Christmas made me think about it, though. Church made me think about it. Nightmares made me think about it.
I walked the aisle once. I was 9. Did that hold any water?
It sure didn’t feel like it sometimes.
I had a heart full of sin I’d shoved way down, didn’t know how to deal with and frankly … struggled to care.
I had a head full of answers, I thought.
But what I thought I knew wasn’t adding up to my apathetic reality. Growing up, I’d seen Christianity portrayed almost as a formula … cue the invitation hymn, feel the tug, walk down the aisle.
Pray the prayer.
Write the date down in the front of your zip-up Bible so you can go back to “the day you nailed it down” on the days you’re questioning it. Read it sometimes. Dust it off, cut into its pages and hope for an answer to a question occasionally.
I missed its most important bits somehow … like the fact that “praying the prayer” isn’t anywhere in it.
And there was the issue of where that left me.
It does say that anyone who believes in Him will have everlasting life (John 3:16). But it also says that even the demons believe and tremble (James 2:19).
So there had to be something different to this belief thing than what I had going on … which was to think about the state of my relationship with Jesus as little as possible. I knew it was important.
But so did the demons.
And I could fool people, but not myself.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want it to be right … I did. Badly. I remember reading my Bible and being discouraged by how I didn’t feel anything, by how hard my heart was. I knew I believed. I knew things needed to change.
But I didn’t know how to get from point A to point B.
Point B was where a lot of genuine believers were living, and I envied their peace and close walk with Jesus. I really wanted a piece of real estate on point B.
“If someone would just tell me what to do, I’d do it.”
I thought that thought an uncountable number of times. I thought it through tears, through revivals, through apathy, through selfishness.
Sometimes I wanted it fixed for my own peace, for the benefits that came with it, for the things I thought I could never expect to receive until He and I were right.
Sometimes I wanted it because I knew it was supposed to be the most important thing and I was missing it.
I wanted a straight answer, a list of things to check off, or a lightning-bolt moment. A nonstop ticket to point B.
Or even if it wasn’t a fast ride there, I at least wanted a sure one.
In my desperation, I set New Year’s resolutions to get there. I bought spiritual self-help books. I sheepishly but desperately sought the advice of strangers who didn’t know me and couldn’t judge me.
My pleas sounded something like this:
“I know once you’re saved, you’re always saved. But what does that mean? And I know you can never go so far away you can’t be forgiven. But I still think I’ve gone so far I can’t be forgiven.”
I asked them for an answer. They had one. It was Jesus.
And there I was, still at point A.
I’d been sick of myself dozens of times, come to the proverbial end of my rope dozens of times, had nothing left to do but turn to Him dozens of times. I told Him as much. Isn’t this supposed to be the part where He reaches down and helps you out?
But I found later there’s a difference in being at the end of your rope and the end of yourself. The end of my rope was a selfish place, and had been for a while.
The end of myself was entirely different.
It came one day when I least expected it, a thought that propelled me out of my chair and onto my knees. It wasn’t a lightning bolt, and it wasn’t a prescribed action.
This time, I wasn’t done with my situation, my life. I was done with me.
I gave Him everything.
It wasn’t perfect. But it began to change everything.
I just finally stopped seeing Jesus as an answer to my problems or a decision I made and started seeing Him as Someone to strive to attain, Someone to love, Someone I wanted more than anything.
And I don’t just mean “more than anything.” That phrase has lost its punch.
I mean more than anything I thought I deserved as a good person, or as an American, or even as a Christian.
More than a husband. More than a salary, or a city I loved, or tickets to a football game. More than the comfort of living where I chose, in the type of house I chose, driving the kind of car I chose. More than spending my time the way I wanted to.
He was more important than all of that.
He was more important than me.
In church, I think I heard more times than I can count, “Put Jesus first in your life.”
OK, fine. What does that even mean? It became way too easy way too early in my life to say, “Yes, He’s first in my life.” Because I read my Bible sometimes. Because I knew He was important, even if I didn’t act that way. Or because I acted like He was important, but not an all-consuming kind of important.
Way too early in life, I got to where I would say “Jesus is first in my life” as a statement of faith, like “I believe in Jesus” or “the Bible is God’s Word” or “God is love.”
Because I was a Christian and occasionally choosing Christian things over nonChristian things, that meant God was first in my life.
And not just false, but blinding.
It was a beautiful release when I finally crashed into Him.
It’s possible I’m the only person who’s ever been in this spot. Praise Him if that’s the case. But if this is you … I plead with you in the new year to see Him … really see Him … as the Jesus who deserves your everything, every detail of your life, every bit of your love and desire and pursuit. He is worthy, and He is worth it. It does start with a prayer, but it’s just that … a start … of a life caught up in Him daily. A life of working out how to handle every moment knowing He’s in it and owns it, and that He’s help for every struggle. A life of wanting Him more with every thought, with every minute.
He won’t fail to meet you if you hold nothing back.