December 22 always seems to come so quickly every year. Not only is my birthday close to Christmas, but it is also very close to the new year. I can’t help but look back on this past year and think of all the exciting adventures, but also the really challenging lessons I’ve faced.
On the outside looking in, it may seem like I have it “all together” or that I’m “always positive”, but that is definitely not the case. I found myself on the floor of my room a lot this year asking God if He could hear me. In the midst of all the new blessings in my life and exciting doors opening, I have shed more tears of confusion, worry, and anxiety. There have been plenty of times where I have let out huge sighs of frustration towards God. I felt as though he had gone dormant.
To be honest, I could NOT put my finger on it. It’s not like I could name one exact thing that would make me “feel” better. Perfect job, no. Relationship, no. Own home, no. New car, no. More friends, no (although I love friends!). More money, no. More devotions and sermons, no. More followers, no. More listeners, no. More guests for podcast, no. More Jesus, not in the way that I thought…
More Than Friends
Hang in there with me. As a child of God, Jesus is always the answer. But not in the way I thought. Jesus has always been my friend. My pal who comes along side of me and talks louder when I am talking to Him or reading the Bible. A friend who hangs out with me the majority of the time, but when I stop thinking about Him as much… He takes a break from me. (ugh the enemy sucks, because this is so not true!!) Then when I am done sinning and I repent (a heavy Christian word), He is readily available with His arms wide open. I picture His hair flowing in the wind, with a soft smile and an ivory robe saying “I knew you’d come back.” This theology negates the words of God, which are always final, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you”. What does this mean? I mean, were these just weightless Old Testament words that were spoken to the Israelites? Or were these words- heavy words that illustrate the very character of our never-changing God.
I am going to do a quick interlude here and list 24 instances where I have experienced Jesus this past year in the most mundane and non-traditional non–religious ways.
In no specific order
- On a back road in Jacksonville
- Bartending a wedding this past November while talking to a guest
- On a park bench
- Under the hood of my car-spotting the oil leak flooding my spark plugs
- Crying because I stepped in human poop in a public restroom
- When I gained 5 lbs from stopping all my dieting and chasing food freedom
- When I burnt toast for Roxy (if you don’t know her you should)
- Drinking a grapefruit margarita
- At a soccer game
- When I was comparing myself to another girl’s life on Instagram
- When I got the flu and had to pay an outrageous copay
- At a work party
- At a tattoo parlor
- When I was crying on the gym floor because I hated the workout and was alone
- Eating a bowl of cheerios at midnight
- Running and crying to the song “Hollywood’s Bleeding” by Post Malone
- On the boardwalk getting annihilated by mosquitoes
- On a walk with my dad
- On a couch in a counselor’s office
- Sitting on the asphalt in the parking lot with a dear friend late at night
- On a road trip
- Quitting my first job after graduating college
- Scrubbing a toilet and unclogging a drain at the air bnb I clean
- Today, when He told me no matter the narrative in your head baby girl, I will uphold you. I will provide for you. I forgive you. I find delight in you.
You see, all the big and exciting things that we document in life often have other moments like these on the peripheral. The less exciting things. The more annoying circumstances. The unconventional places. The places where you suspect God has restricted Himself. We limit Him to the glorious-happy moments. We limit Him to human circumstance. We limit Him to our devotional time. We limit Him to our spiritual highs.. when He is also in the slower and uglier moments with us.
I titled this blog “Experiencing Life” because I’m convinced I will never experience life until I am experiencing Jesus. I used to think Jesus hid in answered prayers that went my way. I thought that if I worked a little harder at the Christian life then things would add up, and I would get that spiritual high from Him pulling through for me. But then I think of how He is an author. The author of life (Acts 3:15). He spoke us into existence (Genesis 2). But the story was never about us, it was about Jesus (Genesis 3:15)… life itself. He writes stories. Beautiful ones. Ones where the desert land is never wasted.
God revealed this to me in the car the other day with a friend. Remember when the Israelites were in captivity in Egypt? How God led them out of captivity and into the desert? The Israelites viewed Egypt as a land of slavery, oppression, and famine. But isn’t it strategic how years later when the birth of Jesus occurred, Egypt was the exact land Mary and Joseph fled to as a safe haven when King Herod was seeking to kill the Messiah? (Matthew 2:13). God is a story writer and uses up all the places, experiences, circumstances, and mundane moments to fulfill His plans through His son Jesus. The Scripture was never a rule book for us to run to when we “mess up” or to convict ourselves into a righteous life. It is there to show the story of Jesus. The story of life. The story of freedom. The story of miracles that point to the glory of His power and how human efforts aren’t enough and will be destroyed until all that is left is Jesus. He is our hope. He is our safe haven.
Jesus is not just my pal who I bring along with me. He is all of me. We abide in each other. That’s when true rest can enter the scene. When we no longer look at our own Egypt as a land of slavery and oppression, but a place that brings safety and freedom from the cruelties of this fleeting world. Only God could change the narrative, and He did. Praise God. Praise Emmanuel. That’s what we sing this time of year, God with us. The story you are living has been written by the Author of Life. It hasn’t been thrown together for us to figure out and ask Jesus to just walk next to us when life isn’t working. He is our life. He is our living Hope. Our souls are intertwined and intermingled in Heavenly realms. In the unseen. In the mundane. In the mistakes. In the ugly moments. In the mess ups. In the hangups. In the jail cell. In the divorce court room. At the bar. After a one night stand. On the asphalt of a parking lot.