Friday, December 21, 2012

What Jesus Means to Me

What Jesus Means to Me

When I was a child in bed at night and all was dark and scary. I sang songs to Him and the angel He gave me and soon I was no longer scared. I asked him if I could marry Him. And I wondered when He would come and make all the bad things in life go away. I wanted Him to make mean people good. I wanted all my family to not have pain and go to heaven.

One night when I was in fifth grade my friend got shot in the stomach and he almost died and I determined to stay awake all night praying for him, I fell asleep on my knees and felt so guilty in the morning. But my friend lived and I realized that no matter how hard I tried to keep a promise to Jesus, I was going to fail but that Jesus wouldn’t.

When I was a teenager in the 1970’s my friends scared me. They started taking drugs and trying to be cool and listening to bad, harsh music. I was very lonely and felt so nerdy. I was mocked because I liked musicals and classical music and old movies. I was terrified of smoking and dating and rock stars that painted their faces and stuck out their tongues. I put on that I was better than them, but really I was just scared of things I knew to be sin and stupidity.

I told Jesus that He didn’t have to pay attention much to me. I saw all the problems in the world and knew He was too busy for my silly complaints. He had blessed me so much that I carefully kept from complaining to Him. I wanted to be one of those people that never caused Jesus to cry. And my parents had taught me that when people sin, it makes Jesus cry.

As a teenager I loved reading the Bible and craved to know all about Him. He was so good and so kind. I loved to see pictures of Him carrying a lamb on His shoulders. I loved teaching in Kindergarten Sabbath school and singing in choir. Sabbath for me was a very, very happy day. I loved every Sabbath. I felt close to Jesus on that day like He came and placed a special invisible arm of love around me. It was romantic and fun--a great family day. A day to be intimate with God and your fellow man.

Adventists didn’t talk much about their relationship to Jesus. I had never been around it. So I kept it to myself except at Sabbath School. Then it was usually discussions about theological points instead of a relationship with Jesus. I always thought it was because it was assumed everyone had a relationship with Jesus. We were all past the milk and needing the meat.

Jesus was in each bright, warm sunrise and at each cozy, mysterious bedtime. He was in my heart when I was happy and He was there when I was terrified. My faith was weak... my love was strong, but mostly my faith was weak. Lots of things didn’t make sense, but I knew he was there. He was my knight in shining armor, my invisible friend, my Mr. Rogers in my little Christian neighborhood.

Some years, He was so close I felt Him talking to me all day, smiling at me all day. I felt His close, loving presence.

Some years, He was a distant friend who seemed too busy to write or call, but I tried to understand. And I knew He loved me, even if He was busy.

My life hasn’t been easy, but it has been easier than most. I have experienced happiness that I doubt very many people have gotten to experience. I have seen much. And I have experienced sorrow that almost all of us have had to deal with--life tragedies that almost kill you.

But one thing, I have been blessed because I have been near Him my whole life.

Christians today have all these great stories of conversion... You know them. “I was a terrible sinner and then I got saved.” Well, my story is nothing like that. I wasn’t a terrible sinner and I never have felt overwhelming guilty about much. I guess it is because I have always tried so hard to be obedient to him. I never wanted Jesus to cry over what I had done. I sinned, but before the guilt could get strong I immediately repented. I sinned for sure... but nothing of note--nothing to make a good conversion story out of.

But what Jesus has been to me is a friend for my fears and my pain. I have desperately needed a savior from myself. Not because of my great sins, but because of my great terrors of life and death. My fear when I watched my sister getting into the car that she would be in a wreck and I would never see her again. Fear that someone I loved would not be saved. Fear that my mother would come down with cancer or my father would die in a plane crash or drowning. Fear that my wonderful blessed life would disappear with a poof.

I needed Christ to survive my life. He taught me that I would survive my fears and suffering even when He didn’t magically make them go away. He taught me to be brave during those times and that He would be with me.

One of the greatest things that has ever happened to me spiritually is the crucifix. When I have been my lowest, cowering alone with excruciating pain and agony, unable to swallow, vomiting with the trauma of life’s tragedies, I have been able to grab a crucifix and look at what Christ has gone through and know that He knows. He knows and He knows and He knows. That has given me strength to survive the pain.

I have spent much of my life feeling very isolated, misunderstood, dismissed. What made it all well is that moment I imagined seeing my Jesus face to face. That is all I needed of heaven and I all expect of heaven, that for one moment I may look into His eyes and our eyes will lock and I will see in His eyes that He knew how MUCH I tried not to make those eyes cry. And His eyes will say to me, “You never made me cry with pain.” And then I will cry with joy.

Jesus I love you.