Valley, one of the families Wendy and I are walking with right now, is working on loving more like Jesus loves. To do that they are looking at several stories from the Gospels and asking, “Because of this story how should we live?” Part of that journey is reading the same scriptures together daily. I feel a deep need to invest myself in this process beyond just reading and meditating alone so I’m going to try blogging my thoughts because writing forces me to process. So here we go…
Jackson, my seven year old, gave his life to Christ today. A kid from school (who is not a believer) came over to play this morning and shared one of her family’s stories about heaven/hell. Evidently it got Jackson thinking. He processes just like I do. A thought will jab him in his chest, but he won’t fully get it right away, so he will turn it over and over in his mind until finally it comes roaring out in an all consuming manner.
We were driving home from his soccer game tonight when he started crying in the car. I asked him what was up and he tearfully replied, “I’m scared of dying because I’m not sure where I’m going to go.” I asked him to explain and he continued, “I know I need to give my life to Jesus to go to heaven and I want to do that.” We processed that some on the ride home together. Then Wendy and I talked more with him about it on the couch.
I did my best to help my seven year old count the cost and take the decision seriously. I didn’t even mention to him that I was almost his exact age when I made the same decision until everything was done for fear that such a statement would push him. For all my questioning and talking though he was firm and decided, so I led him in the sinner’s prayer and he gave his life to Jesus. Right there on our couch.
It was awesome and amazing and wonderful and exciting and confounding and brilliant and unexplainable…although I don’t know that I showed all that. Honestly I was stunned. It all came out of no where. After we prayed I sat for a second that felt like an eternity and just looked at him in wonder. That moment of prayer with him on the couch is something I will treasure in my heart for the rest of my life and then through eternity.
The opening of John 14:8-31 gives me pause tonight. I feel like I know where Philip is coming from. In the past I had this image of God in my head. It was an image of a cosmic cop keeping track of all the bad crap I did, always calling me to apologize and ask for my record to be wiped clean again. It was the image of a coach always beating me into submission, always suggesting a new discipline to attain or event to attend. It was the image of a perfectionist father whose high standards I could never measure up to, whose approval I wanted so badly but could never find. But the image was blurry because every time I tried to pin Him down into my pattern, He would jerk away. I knew God but I didn’t know God.
Does that make any sense at all?
I had this relationship with Him, but He kept refusing to fit in the boxes I kept trying to force Him in. I took Jesus’ statement, “If you love me you will keep my commandments” and I ran with it. Then I was confused why I didn’t feel closer to God when I attended more church functions this week than last. Jesus did say, “Go ye therefore to church functions all the time” didn’t he?
See that was the problem. I had this box, and I wanted God to get in it so our relationship could function according to my plan. I found myself saying to Jesus over and over, “If you would just stop playing games and show me the image of the Father I’m expecting to see – that would be enough for me.” And I heard His voice silently in my head sigh, “Jeff, your still not looking at me.”
I never want my son to struggle like that. I want Jackson, from the beginning of his journey with God, to understand that the Holy Spirit is not some list maker, but that He is this amazing counselor – the closest friend that Jackson will ever have. Because when Jesus rattles off that “I am in the Father and you are in me and I am in you” or later when He said that He will come and make a home inside those of us that love Him…He means that. I want Jackson to know this amazing, incredible, never-deserved, unexplainable intimacy with Jesus. I never want Jackson to build boxes. Instead I want him to experience from day one this amazing journey he is on with Jesus. I want him to appreciate how incredible it is. I want him to draw closer to Jesus every day and be astounded by the beauty of God.
Often I feel like a little kid with Jesus. He is so much. His love is so much. It is so bigger than I can comprehend. I think I grasp it…but then I look again and realize that I’ve only actually scratch the surface.
His statement, “I am going away and coming to you” makes my heart leap. I want Him to be near to me so badly. To steal Paul’s metaphor, I feel like I’m looking through a cloudy window but I know a day is coming when I will see Him face to face. Face to face. I need that. I want that so badly.
He said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you.” I think for the first time in my life I am beginning to understand Karl Barth’s words, “Let their peace be their disquiet and their disquiet be their peace.”
I want my son to know Jesus’ wild peace. For it to make him crave for more, for deeper, for the source. I want Jackson to be confounded by it, even more so than I am. I don’t want him to waste year fretting over rituals and rules, but rather to engage this wild living God that inspires, haunts, creates, challenges, and astounds my daily existence.
Lord, engage my son with you love. Let it be the very air he breaths. Lord, I want to live in the final phrase of the passage. Say to us every moment, “Get up; let’s leave this place.” Journeying with you is my joy Father, a privileged I cannot describe. Thank you. Forever I will seek to learn what it means to love you more.