For the love, tell me what to do.

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.

I believed.

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.

Sigh.

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.

False.

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.

desert road

19 Comments on “For the love, tell me what to do.

  1. Reblogged this on aolsen121 and commented:
    I have found myself feeling like that. Like I am too far gone, and He’s too far away from me. I’ve felt like my heart is hardened and I don’t know how to fix it. Like there are too many things that I could never not be in control of. But that’s just it – It’s not me who has to do the fixing. It’s him. Because I have to give everything to him. Total surrender, that’s the only way. This was such a good article. It made me tear up because it was just so true in my life. I’ve been struggling and trying to give everything to him. I hope that I can just fall into Him and let go. Give him everything.

  2. Wow! Thanks for directing me here through your more recent post “Two Years in Blogs,” because I also just “found” you tonight. God is SO good to us. Even when we’re saved young, and safer than we know, He waits until we really, really, really want to know Him to show us what He’s like. There was this verse I learned when I was a newbie Christian about delighting yourself in Him & he’ll give you the desires of your heart – so, I tried to follow that prescription as a means to getting the desires of my heart LOL. Much, much, later I found out that the first half of the verse was the key, not the last half. When He’s the desire of your heart, yup, you get everything you’re longing for and more. Way more.

    But, He was with me all along … and that’s the part I want to say here to reassure all your readers who are still struggling at Point A. Jesus really did save you already. Way before you even “prayed the prayer,” or “believed for your salvation,” or whatever it was that you thought you did to make sure you had nailed down for yourself that you’re His.

    It was the desire of HIS heart … to save YOU.
    And God the Father ALWAYS lets Jesus have HIS way.

    Your advice is good, girl!
    If your readers want to know Jesus and love him back – TELL HIM!
    He’s not gonna dis you like some fella might, or get scared off by your intensity or neediness or any of your human-ness.
    He wanted us so much He became us! Took on all our weakness and even bore our death and godforsakeness. He wore our sin, and we get to “wear” His perfect righteousness. Even if nobody on earth can see that righteousness, or even if we think we’re just trying to play the game by the rules for the sake of our brethren, or WHATEVER we are thinking — We Are Already Wearing His Righteousness as far as God’s concerned.

    You can know HIm, kids. He wants you to. That was the point, all along, from Genesis to Revelation.

    Jesus Christ is everything you always wanted in a man, and everything you always wanted in your God. Accept no substitutes!

    Just look at you, darlin’s! You’re alive, and loved, and just as beautiful as it is possible on earth to be. Plus, you get to live for ever. Jesus, the lover of your soul, did this. He is one wonderful God/Man.

    So go ahead — chase Him till He catches you LOL!

    In Christ, Rani

  3. i just found your blog. so, i’m catching up on some reading. but, this one struck home. i’m a PK. i have struggled with a church relationship for as long as i can remember. after my sister passed away suddenly i felt that desire, that longing to get myself and my husband in church. pronto. we let God lead us and found a great church just 5 minutes from our home. the people are great. the music is great. the message is great. but i still feel….”controlled”. not like others are controlling me, but like i’m controlling myself so people will think i am “all together”. and i’m not. truth is…i grew up in church. i grew up with family devotionals before breakfast every single morning. i know what to say. i know how to make it sound good. but that’s not WHO i am. it’s not WHAT i want. i want to be honest. i don’t want to be scripted. i want to not have to be showy or fake or put up borders where people don’t see where i fall short. i want an honest relationship with God. i want God to call me out. i want God to call me back. i want to ask questions without feeling judged. i want to be imperfect for God’s sake – so i can learn how to be humble and how to be submissive to His calling without my thoughts and premeditated actions getting in the way. how do you get past yourself? how do you put yourself under the “thumb” of Jesus and just walk with Him…without your thoughts getting in the way??

    • Bless you for being transparent. :) Ask those questions. Ask them of other believers (even if it scares them at first) and seek community with a few folks where you can ask the tough questions without feeling like you have to wear a mask. Masks never did any of us any good, and they don’t show the world a real life in Christ that they can have, too. We have His power in our jars of clay (our weak human bodies) so that people can see that He is glorious through our weakness, doubt, hurt, problems, etc., not through our put-together lives. (2 Corinthians 4:7-10) And as for getting past ourselves … just talk to Him. I’m not talking about concentrated, sit-down prayer time here (though that’s important too) … I’m talking about all throughout the day … tell Him practically how much you want Him. “God, I want you more than I want to go on a nice vacation, or have a nice house. You’re more important than my family to me. You’re more important to me than my job. Tell me how I can use my job for You, because it’s yours, and ultimately it’s You I want to get glory in my life. God, you’re more important than having time for myself. How do you want me to spend my day? Who do you have for me to help? What do you want me to learn about you today? God, I’m struggling today, but if this is so that You can get more glory or teach me something about You, I’m willing to endure it, just please give me the strength to get through it. I trust You’re good.” Praying for you, sister. We’re all struggling together in our jars of clay until things are made right. (Revelation 21)

  4. I came across your blog maybe 2 days ago and I dig it! Apparently I’m tardy to the party…haha. I have to be honest and say this particular post, specifically up until the “Sigh. And there I was, still at point A. ” is everything I’m living 24/7…everything I’m living, and want to live no longer, without a clue how to do so…

    • Believe me when I say I know exactly how you feel. :) Please don’t rest until you figure it out … it’s worth it … He’s worth it. Just keep talking to Him about it. Ask Him to show you who He is. Ask Him if there’s any part of yourself or your life that you’re holding on to, trying to keep as your own. And maybe check out this post: https://gracefortheroad.com/2012/09/07/put-jesus-first/

      Talk more if you want to. :) Praying for you right now.

      • For some reason, I ended up looking for this post today. I don’t think I’ve read it since I last commented so I had no idea you’d responded, Thank you! However, while sitting at work today this post dropped into my head, and subsequently my heart as well, so I returned to reread. And once again it, along with “Put Jesus first” and your above response to Lauralee, resonated…a lot. I’m right there with her. I’m so over being well “rehearsed” and masked…it does me no good. I want honesty….I want to know Jesus for who he is. I want to know the person, not the doctrine. I think good doctrine is helpful, but I want to know God. I want intimacy, not just good theology. I’ve grown up in church so I can often finish scriptures when someone begins them and I can easily grasp the point of parables from an intellectual standpoint. But knowledge feels empty without the experience. Sometimes I feel empty and frustrated in church services, by the things I see & hear. Such to say that I feel like the rituals are empty…at least they’re often empty for me. I believe God is for me, as cliche as it sounds to me to say that. I know he loves me as me, without waiting for me to become some greater version of myself. And I don’t feel nearly as stuck it point A as I did when I first saw this post…but I’m not yet at the end of myself, in the way I’d like to be or need to be. I want to desire him, instead of wanting to want to desire him. And sometimes that feels so far away, you know? And thank you for the prayers, I know they’ve helped :)

        And thank you for your honest words, I know God uses them to spread knowledge of his love, probably more than you’ll ever realize. My returning to this post – today of all days – was probably not an accident….

  5. I thoroughly enjoy reading your blogs. Your candor and honesty is lacking in the Church. I appreciate it and can definitely identify with your struggles. Keep up the good work!

    And thank you for putting into words what many cannot!!

    :-)

  6. I’m a new follower of your blog. I saw this post in your “Two Years in blogs” post today. Can I just say thank you? I just transferred to a Bible college this semester, where I have been so happy, yet felt “off” in some ways. Like, less holy than others. Less in love with Jesus. I know that I shouldn’t compare myself to others because what’s in our hearts is what matters. Yet, I know in my heart that I’ve been seeking the distractions of this world (a godly husband, friends who love me, a self-image that is all put together and “Christian.”) It hasn’t been satisfying. I’ve been realizing that these things are like a tumor, growing on my side. While I hate what it’s doing to me, I keep caressing it and holding on to it. I need the Lord to cut it off. I need Him to be my everything. I don’t want that to come in the form of temporary “feelings” that I dream up for myself … simply to help myself “feel” complete. I’ve tried that before and felt just as empty as when I started. Rather, I want to WANT Him. I want to wake up in the morning and have Him as my first thought. I want to be in love with Him, not so that I can finally be “mature” enough to deserve a husband (I read your blog on waiting, which was so encouraging!). But, because He really is my everything and my consuming passion. I know that I can’t get to this point by my own efforts. That’s why I’m learning to focus on “being” instead of “doing.” That’s when He is free to work in me.
    Thanks so much for being willing to share the hard things that we, as Christians, need to hear.

  7. Thank you for this and being unashamedly honest girded with truth bc I know that a lot of people can relate and you so beautifully put words to gut-wrenching feelings. BOA!!

  8. wow. awesome reminder…I really appreciate you sharing this!

  9. You are definitely not the only one who has been in this spot. In fact, I would venture to say you have put words to the cry of countless hearts. Thank you for sharing this!

  10. This is so beautifully said. My friend Kelsey sent me to your site and I’m so glad I clicked over. I have a blog as well and I have a series going on called “Share Your Story Sunday”.. I would love for my readers to read this testimony. I think many more people can relate to this and can be changed by your story. I would love for you to share it on “Share Your Story Sunday” if you are interested. Here’s the link to the past stories.. let me know if this interests you– you can email me at the email address below if you are interested :) http://bonniegetchell.blogspot.com/search/label/Share%20Your%20Story%20Sunday

    Thanks again for sharing– my heart really needed to hear this today.

    -Bonnie @ Revolutionaries

  11. Two things are in my mind. Isn’t it amazing that we can not realize the struggles going on in the ones who are family and we think of as the closest to us? Also, it is painfully difficult to ask such questions and go through such struggle, yet, wonderfully rewarding to find Christ is the answer. God is good in His providence over all our struggles.

  12. thank you…my heart needed to be reminded of this. praise Him that He doesn’t leave us at prayers and aisles, but takes us deeper, further up and further in.

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