I couldn’t honestly say the words in the title a few months ago. Why? Because I wanted other things besides Jesus… He wasn’t “first place” in my life. He was more towards fifth or sixth place. So… those words… “just give me Jesus” weren’t an accurate statement of my spiritual life.
A more accurate statement would have been “just give me success at my job as a counselor,” “just give me a romantic relationship with a godly guy,” “just give me financial freedom…” The list could go on and on, and somewhere near the bottom… “throw in a little Jesus if you can.”
I’ve heard that the Christian life is like a roller coaster. You’ll go through “mountain top experiences” where you’re close to God, and then you’ll go through “valley experiences” where you’re not as close to God. I think, as a culture, we’ve been conditioned to think that this roller coaster ride is normal, natural, and cannot be prevented because of our sin natures. While we will continue to struggle with sin while we live on this earth, I don’t believe that the roller coaster ride has to be our norm.
Personally, I’ve ridden the roller coaster more times than I can count in the past seven years of being a Christian. Just this past year, I felt the descent… felt the distance between God and I enlarge. As God began to pull on my heart strings to grab my attention, I slowly but surely answered the call and felt the ascent.
I don’t know about you, fellow Christian, but I am tired of what seems like never-ending descending.
In my quiet time with Jesus… I find my very soul begging for my entire life to be a mountain top climb… continually getting closer to Jesus each day until I reach the summit and see my sweet Jesus’ face in heaven… until I bow at His feet in worship and hear the words that I’ve longed to hear… “well done.”
So how do we motion to the ride attendant that we want to stop the ride and get off?
How do we go about finding the “gear” we need for this lifelong hike?
I’m going to sound like a broken record, but the key to being close to Jesus is choosing to be close to Him each day… by making room for Him in your life FIRST through Bible reading and prayer in quiet time with Him.
Our day should start with Jesus.
Our day should be filled with Jesus.
Our day should end with Jesus.
Once I followed those three simple steps of beginning, filling, and ending my day with Jesus, I found that I could say “just give me Jesus” and really mean it. He is beginning to return to His rightful place in my life, the number one position, above my job and above my fleshly wants.
In No Other Gods by Kelly Minter, she speaks about putting these idols–these things in our lives that occupy first place–on the altar before God just like Abraham was ready to sacrifice what he loved most on the altar before God (Genesis 22, Hebrews 11:17-19). So… my job… goes on the altar. My want for a romantic relationship… goes on the altar. My dream of financial freedom… goes on the altar. What I mean is that I’m giving up control. I’m telling God to take these areas (and many more, trust me) and allow His will for my life to permeate those areas.
The strength to do this does not come from me. It most certainly comes from God, and I find that I gain even more strength as I delve into God’s Word.
Romans 8:5-6 says,
“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of the sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace…”
I want life and peace, friends. Even though I know the climb will be difficult at times, I know that, in the end, it will produce the life and peace that I’m searching for.
So, as I’m on vacation, watching a beautiful snowfall and an even more beautiful Alaskan Malamute play in that snow… and feeling the peace that comes when I’m in the midst of God’s creation and watching God’s creation… I am beyond grateful that this peace can remain long after the snow has melted… long after my plane has landed back home.
The future may be uncertain, but our faith in and commitment to God doesn’t have to be. We can say, with conviction and confidence, just give me Jesus.