Fairest Of Ten Thousand #380
What if Jesus likes you more than you think He does? What if He knew you first and liked what He saw? What if the reason you know Jesus at all is that He wanted this relationship so badly, He pursued it before you ever thought about it? What if He has meticulously poured over every single moment of your life, weighing every decision you’ve made, measuring every motivation and seeing right through every stunt you pulled? What if He knows you in and out and understands where you’re coming from? What if His humongous heart was filled with compassion and pity over you and your desperate state without Him? What if the entire plan of salvation was designed because Jesus was determined to do whatever it takes to rescue you? What if He knows you better than your friends know you, better than your family knows you and even better than you know yourself because He planned out your personality, orchestrates the movements of your life and has never missed a single heartbeat this entire time? What if He knows exactly where you’re going because He’s completely and mercifully in control of it all, beautifully making you into the person He’s always had in mind? In the first chapter of John, when Nathanael first met Jesus, our Lord said He knew where Nathanael came from and where he would end up after the end. Every moment and every heart is laid bare to Jesus. He sees and understands everything that makes you the unique you that only you are. He watches your life with compassion and joy. He works in your life with tender and brilliant hands. He knew you first and loves you best.
Have you ever had that one friend who always drags you down into the worst choices and situations? If you know what I’m talking about, then you know it doesn’t matter how good your intentions are or how long you’ve been keeping things straight, because when this friend enters the picture, you’re going to wind up making a mess, wasting some days and racking up some new stories as well as new regrets. This kind of friend always promises an unforgettable, epic adventure, and you can’t resist. The weird thing is, you don’t even really want to resist, right? There is a gravity we can’t repel all around this one friend and it always transforms us into the very worst version of us. This friend is like the full moon to a werewolf, melting our resolve, unraveling our trajectory and even changing our very appetites. You know that friend, right?
Well, in John 8, Jesus says every single one of us has that friend living inside us all the time. He says everyone who sins is a slave to sin. In other words, not only do we do the wrong things, but we can’t stop doing the wrong things. The truth is, we want the wrong things. We are hopelessly magnetized toward the worst and most destructive choices. The problem is that you and I have a sick heart. Your heart is that friend who drags you down. It can’t stop and it won’t stop. Your fallen heart chooses for you. You and I are under the mastery of our own miserably broken selves.
The sad thing is that we think we want to be free to choose everything for ourselves. We think we want to run the show of our own lives, but that kind of freedom is really a slavery that only leads to all that mess, waste and regret. When we are in charge of our own lives, we are actually slaves to that crooked friend who drags us down again and again into the very worst version of us. We don’t choose well and that’s why Jesus came.
Jesus came to set us free from the tyranny of our own fallen hearts. He came to give us a new way to live. When you come face to face with the slavery of sin, you know you need to be rescued. When Jesus sets you free and you get to know His heart, you start to learn that the smartest thing you can do with your new freedom is give it right back to Jesus. If you hand your life over to Him and let Him call the shots, making Him the Master of your life, you will find actual freedom. Jesus came to rescue us from ourselves and give us the joy of being His very own. Giving your rescued life back to Jesus is the most wonderful freedom there is.
Fairest Of Ten Thousand #379
Some things are always going to suck. As long as you live here in this world, there will be road blocks, setbacks and dry seasons. If no one told you that, it’s time to hear it. If you haven’t heard it in a while, it’s time to refresh. If you thought walking with Jesus was going to be all sunshine and happy songs, you’re probably extremely disoriented by now. You will experience loss, pain, heartache and disappointment. You will find yourself depressed and afraid. You will sometimes feel as though you are alone and forsaken, even though Jesus promised you’re not. Now, some of these hard times will be due to the fact that you are a fallen person living in this broken, sinful world. In other words, even though you know Jesus, you still wander from Him and do your own thing. But don’t take another step believing that all your suffering is the result of your wrong, because it’s not. There’s something that just about every Christian constantly forgets; and forgetting this thing leads to tons of personal shame and misery. That is, you are in a dog fight for your soul right now. You have a ruthless enemy who hates Jesus and doesn’t give a flip about you. If Jesus didn’t love you so much, this enemy wouldn’t bother with you, but you are so loved he has to fight you all day, every day. Jesus knows you are in a fight for your life. He knows you are sustaining injuries. He understands what you’re up against and He isn’t looking down on you. He knows you’re going to face trouble and opposition; and the best part is, Jesus knows we’re going to win in the end.
When it comes to dating and marriage, I think most folks imagine this fairy-tale world where you magically find the exact right person, fall head-over-heels for them just like in the movies and then have the kind of wedding that would wind up on everyone’s pinterest boards.
It’s not like that at all, though. In the real world, making a relationship work is difficult stuff which requires an incredible amount of humility and cooperation. Since I’ve worked with young people my entire ministry career, I’ve spent a lot of time talking about dating and marriage. One thing I’ve heard a ton of times from folks throughout the years is “I want what you and Christy have.” When I hear that kind of thing, I always take the conversation down a road that the person probably wasn’t counting on. First of all, I say, “Actually, you definitely do want a relationship like ours because it is awesome. The thing is, though, what you have to do to get a relationship like this one is not easy and may wind up being one of the most difficult and humbling things you ever try to do in your life.” Somehow, I get the feeling that’s not what they wanted to hear.
In order to illustrate this, let’s take a short tangent to talk about geese for a second. You’ve probably seen geese flying through the air in that V-shaped formation and thought they were really pretty amazing for doing something so cool - and let’s be honest, that is both beautiful and amazing; but, have you ever watched geese pull out of that V-formation and come down for a quick landing? How do you think geese land when they need to? In your mind it’s probably some aerodynamic dive like a bird of prey or a graceful circle that lands softly on the ground, but that’s not what they do. No, the fact is, geese do this really strange thing called whiffling, where they awkwardly flip their bodies over in mid air, keep their neck and head turned upright and fly upside down to reduce speed and altitude at the same time. Seriously, they actually fly upside down. Google it. It’s freaky and it ain’t pretty, but it gets the job done.
Good marriages have a whole lot of whiffling. What I mean is, if you think about the ‘perfect couple’ you know that’s so in love, you probably think they just look into each other’s eyes and love just grows while nature itself sings around them; but if you actually watched that couple live their life together, you’d find them disagreeing, hurting each other’s feelings, honestly facing conflict, asking for forgiveness, humbling themselves, and giving each other a lot of grace and forgiveness when they repeatedly screw up. In other words, a real marriage isn’t magic and it isn’t pretty. There’s a whole lot of awkward and difficult maneuvers going on that require maturity, patience, courage and honesty which are all really hard to swallow, but absolutely necessary. It’s hard work and it’s not for immature people. Folks who nurture good relationships know that no matter what it looks like, sometimes flying upside down is the only way to land.