When I was writing Steady in the Storm, it started out as an internal process for me, as a way of exploring my upbringing, journey and trauma. God was very present in the process and when I was stuck on where to go next he would tell me what to focus on. I remember him saying things like, “I want you to write about your fear.” or “I want you to talk about how out of control you were.” These sorts of prompts felt confusing to me, and I wasn’t sure how to discuss such emotions. When I sat down to write I would find the words would come, memories that lingered in my brain all of the sudden had somewhere to fit. Every time I finished a chapter I was surprised at it’s length and how it fit into the over all story.
I love the idea of keeping a blog. I’ve tried to start a few over the years, but nothing has stuck. With Steady in the Storm being the perfect anchor for a blog, I though I’d try again, but again I am finding it difficult to come up with content or keep it consistent. This morning, as I sat and drink my coffee, I asked God what he wanted me to write about. I heard him say, “I want you to write about how much I love you.” Thinking about this right now I literally have no idea how to talk about this. I don’t know where God is going to take it or what will come up.
So here goes.
The first verse that comes to mind for any christian, non-christian or even atheist when talking about God’s love is John 3:16. Do I even need to quote it?
How can we even understand the depth of God’s love by reading a verse stating a sacrificing of a son for our lives? It doesn’t even make sense. To be told we are sinners and need saving sounds ridiculous; after all, I’m doing pretty good over here. I have a nice place to live, a good job, I’m fed every day and I can take pretty good care of myself thank you. I’m a fairly nice person, people tend to like me and I can find pretty well any way to get along with most people. Why would I need to be saved? Why would it matter to me that Jesus died for me? Jesus can save those third-world people who aren’t sure where their next meal is coming from. Let Jesus help the murderers, the corrupt politicians and the drug dealers. How can we even begin to comprehend why Jesus came if we don’t understand that we need him?
I have been a christian all my life. I attended church regularly throughout my entire up brining. As a teenager I helped out in children’s church, the nursery, attended youth groups and then went on to help lead youth groups, work at summer camps, run summer camp internships and more. Surly I would understand how much Jesus loved me and how much I needed him. I’ve done nothing but be around him my whole life.
It wasn’t until I married an alcoholic that I began to understand how desperately I needed Jesus. The word desperate feels like an understatement because we understate it all the time. We use it in worship songs – where we sing the meaning out of it. We use it when we are extremely thirsty or wanting to be melodramatic. Really, to be desperate is to reach a point of utter impossibility, hopelessness and even danger. I was truly desperate for Jesus to come and do something, anything to help. I reached the end of my limitations as a person. I had tried to control the situation, pray through the situation, clench my fists and teeth and anger through the situation, I tried walking out for a few days or weeks at time, I tried telling Rhett what he needed to do and I tried doing nothing at all, sinking into a depression that almost broke my faith entirely.
Rock bottom is often used to describe the breaking point of an addict. The point where the addict is finally willing to accept help and turn their life around. I’m not sure why we create phrases like this and then only think they are applicable to a certain group of people. Everyone has a point they need to reach to acknowledge they need help, no matter how perfect your life is looking. The help may look differently per person and the circumstances are varied, but Jesus is waiting at everyone’s rock bottom, waiting for us to realize we need him.
Jesus is not standing idle by in this process of reaching rock bottom, waiting for us to beat ourselves up enough to finally realize we need saving. He’s not standing there, with his arms crossed, waiting for us to nearly bleed out before stepping in, “Oh, so you need me now do you? Ok, I’ll go get the band aids you ungrateful …” No. The rockbottom is simply the point in which we finally realized God has been there all along, loving us along the whole way, waiting for us to see that he’s there, wanting to save us from ourselves.
The thing is, Jesus doesn’t need us to reach that rockbottom for him to pour out his unending love and grace upon us. It’s us who in our denial have to hit rock bottom before realizing our own limitations.
Love cannot be forced upon someone. It has to be realized, accepted and returned. Have you ever loved someone without being loved back? How long did you do this before giving up on the person and moving on? Parents may relate to this better than anyone. Your teenager rejects you, hates you and maybe is an addict and you’re waiting for them to reach their rockbottom. For most of us, we don’t love without being loved back for very long. It’s too painful, so we move on to protect our hearts. Not parents though. And not Jesus.
Jesus loves fiercely. He loves without it being acknowledged, accepted or returned. He loves while being hated, while being rejected, while being cursed and while being murdered. He loves us while we spit in his face and continue to fall further towards our rock bottom.
Choices will always have consequences, whether that is saying yes or saying no. There is a theme out there in Christianity that Jesus will always accept, always love and always give grace, no matter who you are, what your personal choices are or whether you acknowledge him or not. Love can only been fully experienced when it is returned, mutually shared and experienced. God’s love is jealous and his greatest desire is for his love to be accepted and returned. Is this not the same in a marriage? God has made it clear that only those who acknowledge him, confess their sins, follow him and return his love are called his children. This then starts arguments over how unfair and unjust and unloving God is. Is he though? Or is it that you aren’t willing to choose him just now and want to leave your options open?
To me, right now God’s love looks like allowing the earth to go on as long as it has. God knows that when he comes back to receive his children, not all will be called his children. God also knows that everyone is capable of being saved, of turning their lives around and becoming one of his children. I see it like a helicopter hovering over a war zone. The christians on the helicopter are begging Jesus to take off and get somewhere safe, but Jesus is hanging out of the helicopter yelling back, “Just one more!” giving his children more time to find him. “How could a loving God let such bad things happen, how could he let the world go on like this?” Becuase he gave his son for the world, to be saved and find him, to spend the rest of eternity with him. If he came back now, who would get missed?
There will come a day when God’s jealous love will reach an end, and only those who have accepted him will go home with him. “How could a loving God do such a thing, abandon his children like that?” Did he abandon you? Or are you still trying to make up your mind on whether or not the sacrifice is worth it? As we slowly climb further and further down our own cliffs of self destruction, wondering if there is a rock bottom, Jesus is repelling along beside us, waiting for us to acknowledge him, waiting to hoist us out.
I guess the real question is, what is he saving you from?
Part II TBA