“If you get to heaven, and Jesus is the only thing there. Will you be satisfied?”
This question hit me like a ton of bricks, in the face, while I was neck-deep in quicksand, naked. Or at least that’s what it felt like.
I had been living a faithful (though not perfect) life, following after Christ. I struggled with many things, but overall I really felt that my life looked like what a faithful Christian’s life looked like. This question slapped me in the face, my mind drew a blank. Instantly, I knew in my mind, I did not have the correct answer. My answer was no. I will not be satisfied when Jesus is the only thing I see what I die.
And that scared the crap out of me.
I still distinctly remember the feeling of dread that came immediately after I heard that question for the first time. It was terrifying. If I wasn’t satisfied with Jesus, THEN WHAT WAS I DOING?!?
Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction of things not seen.”
This verse was the first tangible thing I had to hold on to when this all started. After the initial shock and dread, I started practically asking myself why I wasn’t satisfied with Jesus. This verse rolled around in my head for several months.
At one point I described my faith like this: Jesus is on the red carpet. There’s a crowd of Paparazzi lined up behind the ropes. It’s loud, and there are flashing lights, and there are tons of people trying to get Jesus’ attention. And I’m way in the back. I’m on my tip-toes, craning, stretching, peeking, doing everything I can to try to just get a glimpse of Jesus through the crowd. I am Zacchaeus. And through this picture I realized the reason I was not satisfied with Jesus was because I didn’t think he was satisfied with me! He was too busy, there were too many other people, more important people, who needed him more than I did. So I just fell into the background. I had nothing to offer him.
It stayed like this for awhile. I knew where I was but I wasn’t sure how to fix it, wasn’t sure I wanted to fix it (that’s a whole separate blog). I was still praying, but I didn’t have joy like I thought I did. I drank a little too much wine on the weekends to escape the guilt I had. I was diving head-first into other people’s problems so I could ignore the big problem I had. All the while feeling the weight of loneliness and despair, mixed with confusion and fear.
Then my best friend and I had a spat, a big one. Then a close friend of mine got upset with a joke I made. Then another best friend was deeply hurt by something that I had shared with someone else. These things all happened within a week of each other. I couldn’t even pinpoint exactly what had happened. My husband stood by me the whole time. He didn’t say whether I was right or wrong, he was just sympathetic. Then we had a spat!
I didn’t trust myself anymore. I didn’t trust the words that came out of my mouth, I didn’t trust who I was around people. I was even nervous around my own daughters. I was scared I was going to say something that was going to hurt them.
I asked God to show me what He was trying to teach me. I had obviously sinned, but I couldn’t tell where. But God knew what was going on, so I asked Him to show me. I spent a few weeks just trying to be still. I tried to get rid of the things that I knew were drowning out his voice.
He showed me. The common thread between all of these issues was people’s approval. I was more concerned with people’s approval than I was with His approval. I was trying to give good advice, so that my friend could look back and say, “Oh that Erin. She gives great advice.” I was trying to be funny, so my friend could say, “Oh that Erin. She’s so funny.” I wanted people to like me, to love me, to think I’m good at things. All the while I never pointed people to Jesus. I was in the way. My pride was in the way. I wanted to be the one who had “fixed” all these problems, instead of pointing to the one who really can fix all the problems. I was idolizing my own experience and wisdom, instead of pointing to the one who gave me the experiences and the wisdom.
Face, meet palm. Palm, face.
I was finally getting a glimpse of the rope that was going to pull me out of the quicksand. And what a beautiful sight it was. For the next week, I felt like a kid on a trampoline. I was so high I couldn’t help but be excited about life! Along with the answer, God had given me a life-line: Him. I had new found appreciation for Him, His love, and His heart. I was excited to be His and to experience His love. Here we were on the red carpet again. I’m still in the back. It’s still loud, and I still am trying to catch a just glimpse of him. But this time, there’s something different. I stretch, I reach, I crane to try to see him face, hidden behind all these people trying to get his attention. Then all of a sudden our eyes lock. He sees me. He stops, directly in front of me, and looks me dead in the eye. The heads slow to a blur, the noise quiets to a hum. And everything else falls away, and I’m left with just him, and he’s left with just me…..
Every morning I wake up excited to spend the day being His. Excited to be the one He’s looking at in a crowd. Knowing that He loves me just because He does, and no other reason. I’m anxious to read the Bible because it gives me a look into His heart. I’m anxious to pray because it gives me peace and rest like nothing else I’ve ever felt. I want to be with him, all the time, 100%, forever, and I don’t care what I have to do to get it.
His love for me is not dependent on whether I give good advice, or if I’m funny, or if people like me. And frankly, I don’t care anymore. His opinion is the only one I need to care about, and those who really matter will approve of me too.
Matthew 6:33 “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”
Now I understand when Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 that he will boast all the more gladly of his weaknesses. If I need to be weak so that people can see Jesus, then let me be the weakest! Because it doesn’t matter if I’m strong, or funny, or smart, or wise. He still loves me.
And His love is not dependent on you either. So when someone asks how you do something, point to the One who is the reason and the momentum. He already loves you for you. Nothing you do or say will ever change how much He loves you. Ask Him to show his love. Ask Him to show Himself so that He can make you all that you’re meant to be. And then the next time you meet someone who’s stuck up to their neck in quick-sand with a ton of bricks on their face naked, you can proudly point to Jesus, and tell them how He pulled you out too.
Erin is part of a weekly radio program and podcast called “Study With Friends,” a unique format of 4-5 different women each week, gathering around the Bible to study God’s Word. With organic conversation and authentic personalities, it’s a fresh offering on the Christian airwaves. For more information or to listen to the program, visit our bible study page.