I was scrolling on Twitter the other day and saw this little excerpt someone tweeted from a book or study by Scott Sauls and it struck me in such a way that I felt compelled to take a screenshot.
So often we're taught that our number one goal is to be like Jesus. WWJD, remember? (Aaron and I were talking about those bracelets the other day. We want to bring them back and start wearing them around. Anyway, that's not the point.) Even if you don't believe in Jesus as God, you probably know about him as a nice guy. So what does it mean to be like Jesus? Why do we say that? Do we even know what we mean when we say that? Can we start healing people of their illnesses? Raising them from the dead? Raising ourselves from the dead?!
I think when people say that we should try to be like Jesus, they're talking about his kindness, gentleness, patience. His calm, steady hand. His willingness to sit with the people who were a little weird or a little quiet or a little hard to get along with. His ability to comfort and love with reckless abandon. They're talking about the way he spoke life over everyone he encountered. Okay, sign me up. That’s the kind of person I want to be – the kind of friend, the kind of spouse, the kind of coworker, the kind of parent - the kind that listens and loves and looks like Jesus. But the only way we can do that, the only way we have a shot, is if we’re sticking close to Jesus. Like Scott's tweet alluded to, I think we focus a little too much on being like Jesus and not enough time being with him. We like to think we know who he is because we read the Bible one time or we hear it once a week on Sundays, or because YouVersion sends us a notification of a Bible verse every morning, but do you really spend time with him to get to know him better? Do you spend time with Jesus so that you can show people what he’s like or do you settle for knowing a couple stories from the felt board in elementary Sunday school and recalling the one verse you have memorized?
Several years ago now, I was at a real low point in my life. I felt dead, spiritually and emotionally. And as much as I prayed about it and asked God to heal it, rescue me out of it and change it all, I wasn’t spending any time with him. You can ask for things from the Lord, but if you’re not opening his Word to see what he has to say about it, well then do you really want an answer? So one day I just decided to start over. To start at the beginning in Genesis. To stop thinking I already knew it all and begin again at the start of the story.
I took out my Bible and started reading. Growing up in church, I had heard this story probably nine hundred times, but did I really know it? I started at, “In the beginning… “ and tried to get a fresh word from the Lord. And do you know that it says if you seek him, you will find him? I was finally seeking. And it was in the seeking that he met me. And as I spent more and more time with him I was finally able to break free from some of those strongholds that sin had on my life.
It’s like when Peter walked on water. Jesus called him out of the boat, “Look at me, Peter. Look at me. Eyes on me.” And he walked out. He was walking on water. But the minute he started looking away, eyes down, on himself, he started to sink. Eyes off Jesus and you’ll start to slip. That’s just the way it always goes sooner or later. So where’s your focus? Who are you looking to? Are your eyes up on Jesus or down on your circumstances, your sin, your mess?
In a sermon one time, Judah Smith talked about how when you’re trying to quit a sin – when you’re trying to get out from under the weight of a persistent sin in your life – you need to focus more on being with Jesus rather than quitting the sin. When you focus more on spending time with Jesus, that sin is going to start to look a lot less appealing. That temptation will have a lot less hold on your life when you start to look at Jesus instead of that sin and how you can't overcome it, because to be honest, you can't. Not on your own. So, eyes up, friend. Look at Jesus. Spend more time with Jesus. Read his words. Trust his promises. See what happens.
I just finished a Bible study from Hannah Brencher. It’s a really great 15 session study and I encourage you to click here and get a copy sent to your inbox. But in one of the later sessions she’s talking about Satan and his desire to seek, kill and destroy you. Yes, you. That is his one desire for your life. Damage and destroy. Drive you to despair and loneliness and isolation. Drown you in your fears and anxieties until you’re feeling completely alone. And I’m paraphrasing here, but she writes, “Satan does not care about anything except rendering you faithless.” He doesn’t care about ANYTHING except making sure that you do not trust Jesus and he’ll use any means to do it. Whether he has to keep your eyes glued to the past and how things "should have been" or if he has to remind you of all the things you don't have, he does not care about you as long as he has rendered you faithless. As long as you’re telling God he just doesn’t understand your circumstances. As long as you’re believing lies instead of truth – trusting your own heart instead of trusting the heart of God. That’s all the devil really cares about - leaving you in a pit of faithlessness.
I think that’s one of the biggest problems we have in the world today – faithlessness. Our faith is too small or nonexistent. We like Jesus but we just don't trust him with everything. We’re looking down at the water and wondering why we’re sinking, or knowing why and not caring – not believing that walking on water is even possible. We’re trying to tell people what Jesus is like without spending any time getting to know him ourselves, simply relying on stories we heard one time. We’re forgetting our purpose and living for our own happiness, our own wishes and hopes and comforts. We know about Jesus but we don’t know him.
Are you faithless today? Have you given up on God in one area or another or maybe altogether? Have you written him off and let the devil win this one? Have you succumbed to unbelief and instead listened to the lie that God cannot fix this relationship, this financial situation, this dream, this desire? Are you believing the lie that God is holding out on you, does not want good for you, does not see you or care? Have you been left faithless because of hard circumstances?
Can I challenge you today to look up? Look up. Your Father is waiting. He delights in you. Sees you. Loves you. Wants more for you than a life of despair and isolation and circling back to the same sins on repeat. And regardless of how many times you look down at that water lapping at your ankles, he stands steady, asking you to look up.
If you're longing to see change in your life, start by spending more time with Jesus. Abide in him. Pray against faithlessness and see how He moves. He will shove the devil aside and he will not ask. It’s not up for debate. He will demand on your behalf. He will invade for your benefit, for your good. Eyes on him, daughter. Eyes up on him, son. He speaks in promises. He can be trusted. The Bible is full to the brim with verses that say,
“The Lord will…”
Not, “He might,” “If he gets around to it,” “If something better doesn’t come along,” “Unless he gets busy or distracted or sidetracked.”
No. HE WILL comfort.
Hold your hand.
Be with you always.
I know these promises to be true. I've seen them in my life and in the lives of others. God is not fickle, flaky, feeble or easily swayed. He promises. And comes through. For you. For me. For us. In his time. Don’t let the devil win here. Don’t let him leave you faithless. Luke 18:8 asks, “However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Will he? Will he find it in you? When he comes back again or when he calls you home, will he find you faithful? In your marriage. In your parenting. In your job. At school. In your neighborhood. In your dealings with friends and relatives and strangers. In how you speak. In how you act. In what you believe.
Sometimes I'll feel led to write something and I won't even really have to think about it - the words just kind of pour out of my heart because of what God is teaching me. Today's post is like that. I felt really compelled to write about it but the past few days I have been hesitant to post because I'm not really feeling it. Like, let me tell you what, I need this message for my own heart today. So rather than thinking that maybe God can't use it because I'm not feeling 100% faithful, I'm just going to post it anyway and see what he can do in my life and yours.
I watched Beth Moore teach on Monday about living a life that is open to what God has for us, and she reminded me to pray for an open mind that has a desire to read and trust the scriptures. I think that's what I need today, so maybe that's all you need today too. A prayer for openness. A prayer for faithfulness. A prayer for eyes up only on him, for a heart that desires to spend time with him instead of just assuming you already know what he's like. Spend time with him. Get to know him so you can truthfully show others who he is.
Let it be so, Jesus. Let it be so.
I love it when there's a song that really speaks to what I'm feeling and this song has been that for me lately. Take a listen if this has resonated with you at all.