My goal this semester has been to learn to love Jesus more. After a bit of time spent drowning in my own pretension and being proud to have such a worthy endeavor, I realized how difficult it is to love someone you don’t really know.
I’m terribly hopeless at times. On many a day I would flip through my Bible, then sort through the homework laying around unfinished, scroll through text messages that I would probably never answer, then lay on the floor and sulk in frustration, wondering why Jesus was so difficult to know sometimes. Then I would yell at myself and say stop being lazy and get up and do something, then feel terribly guilty about not being able to do anything. By then it would be time to do something else and I would try to mumble to God while walking to my next thing, all the while wondering what is it supposed to look like.
Sometimes you don’t realize how little you love something until you see somebody else loving it.
I used to think I loved choir. In elementary school I was part of our school’s Colt Chorale, and by fifth grade I had worked my way up to Choir President. It’s weird because I really couldn’t sing, but that didn’t stop me from singing all the time and singing louder than everyone else around me. There’s a picture of me at one of our performances, and I’m standing in the front row, my eyes are huge, and my mouth is open wider than everyone else around me.
I’m not sure what happened in 7th grade, but I managed to get my choir teacher to kick me out of choir. I was telling all the other girls not to sign up for 8th grade choir because our teacher was evil, and apparently she heard me. She called up my parents and we all had a nice chat with the principal, after which I was forced to immediately switch into Art.
When I joined choir again in high school, I realized that my love for choir was hopelessly minuscule compared to the people around me. I was amazed/appalled by the intensity of everyone’s passion for choir, and it was very apparent that I did not love choir like these people did. By this time, I was acutely aware of the fact that I could not sing and I spent most of my time lip-syncing or secretly doing homework for other classes.
Many of my close friends love Jesus more than I feel like I ever could. Something I’ve noticed is that they often have a love that’s uncommonly genuine, one that doesn’t boast and doesn’t require recognition.
I’ve learned a lot about loving Jesus from one friend in particular. At first I was intimidated when I saw how her desire to know God far outshone mine, but when I learned that this race isn’t about racing against others, I began to walk with her and learn what it looks like to love God.
One night when we were at camp and I was feeling abandoned by God and trapped in my own self absorption, she gave me her sleeping bag and let me hide in her bunk. Later when the noise and busyness of people died away, she climbed up to the bunk and we talked about life and Jesus and what it means to fight.
It’s hard sometimes, but that’s only because sin refuses to exit quietly, it makes a scene and wrecks havoc and incites fear. But as I sat there and listened to her talk, I learned about what bravery is, and how trusting Jesus is clinging to Him and holding fast to His truth.
I haven’t known very many people who love Jesus like that. Who see how big He is, but aren’t afraid to ask Him for things. Who trust Him to carry them through the most difficult times, and trust Him to carry them through everything in the future.
People who don’t just tell you to love Jesus, but take hold of your arm and help you walk with them as you seek to love God together. It’s hard, really, to do it alone. You need people with you.
That’s the mark of bravery, I think. Knowing that you’re just a person and this world is too big and you can’t do it by yourself. Because in the end, it’s all really about one thing, and that thing is really simple and really difficult at the same time, but it’s okay because our hope is found in something greater.
“The evil hold of ‘seeking God – and’ effectively prevents us from finding God in full revelation. In the ‘and’ lies our great woe. If we omit the ‘and’, we shall soon find God, and in Him we shall find that for which we have all our lives been secretly longing for.” – A.W. Tozer