What a Friend I have in Jesus

There is no greater friend that I have than in God. He knows me fully, loves me still, and gave Himself up for the ugly girl that I am. Sometimes I will be struggling in my heart with sins and pains that no one knows. My secrets will be hidden by the joyful smile on my face, but they are written blatantly on my heart. In these times I tend to run in to God throughout my day, acknowledge His presence, and turn and walk away as quickly as I can. It is not as though I am unhappy to see Him, because indeed He is my most wonderful friend! It is instead that when I see God, He gives me the look that an old friend gives another; the look of knowing is pervasive across His glance. He looks at me and knows that I am not alright. He also knows that I have to be the one who comes to Him to share my heart, and He patiently longs for me to do so. That should be a comforting thing to me, but the thought of admitting what is going on inside of me brings me great fear. Because I forget that God really is the great friend that I know Him to be, I keep avoiding Him and walking away at every opportunity.

When I get home and close the door to my room, my sin sits on my bed like a wolf waiting for its prey and stares me in the face. Its gaze is also one of knowing, but a knowing that says “you know you want me” with a dagger-like bite waiting to strike if I reach out to pet it. I crawl into my bed, tired from a day of struggle, and kick my sin to the edge where it still paces and lingers over me. In the darkness of this room, I find myself once again looking eye-to-eye with God. He’s there, right in front of me, and this time I know I cannot turn away because my pet-enemy is crouching and ready to devour me. I can only turn to my most faithful friend.

My words fail me and I cannot muster up the ability to say what makes me want to turn to my enemy instead of my friend. It is in this moment that I realize God is not so far off that I need to shout for Him to hear me. He is there, He is in front of me, He is near. All that I can do is whisper to Him. When I first have the courage to whisper the words “God, I need You,” the wolf instantly goes away into the darkness. As I continue with more confidence to whisper to my sweet friend, my heart finds comfort in His closeness and His attentiveness. God, my friend, hears every word that is so quietly uttered from my lips.

Not only was He hearing me, He was reminding me between every tear that He yearns for my confession and trust in Him. He desires to have fellowship with me, His daughter, and He wants to point me to what He did for me on the cross. In light of God’s great love, my swift avoidance of interacting with Him was foolish. Yet even my evasion of Him was paid for and washed away at the foot of the cross. What a friend I have in Jesus!

A Deliberation on Communication

Communication finds its heritage in making things common. And this is what anyone who has ever had a friend, teacher, lover or family member could attest to. 

It is no surprise that the word “community” and the word “communication” find their construction in the word “common”. Communication implies that it must be done in community; it must involve more than one party. Likewise, community implies that there is a form of regular communication established. How could a community share things in common (Acts 2:44) if there is no communication? The answer is that they could not. 

Communication should be thorough yet simple while still being direct and loving. As a student of the humanities, I find much of my career in higher education being determined by my essays. If I am not thorough and simple (a nice word for this concept being concise) and if I am not maintaining direction and love (I think edifying is the most appropriate word), then I have not achieved what I set out to do.

When I am not thorough, my argument can easily be seen as foolish. If I lack simplicity, my writing will not be understood by many people. If direction is absent, readers will search for a point and not find one. Finally, if I do write from a standpoint of love, the essay is not of eternal value, and is therefore of no value at all. This may seem technical, but I believe that well-rounded writing helps strengthen better communication. Obviously I don’t claim to have a complete list of the necessities of good communication, but at this point I’ll stand by these four concepts as foundational ones.

In a practical sense, I have also spent much of my time in college living in small, sometimes forced, intentional and extremely messy communities. It has been proven to me time and time again that our ability as a whole group to communicate thoroughly, simply, directly and lovingly dictates how well or how poorly we are going to function.

I could probably tell a story where I failed or someone else failed in every single one of these areas. But the point here is not to complain, but to encourage. When we take a serious approach to the way we communicate with those around us, our lives with one another look vastly different than the world. Ephesians 4:29 is set in the context of describing a community of believers. In this verse, Paul commands “do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” 

As a follower and lover of Jesus, we must consider how much of an impact our communication with one another has on the community in which we dwell. 

Thorough, simple, direct, loving. Let us think and speak within these things.

A Story of Salvation

A couple of weeks ago, I reached a point of desperation. My spirit was drained to a point of emptiness. My cup was not overflowing. It actually had nothing left inside of it that I could see. The jar of clay that is my heart was not only dry, but also cracking, dusty, and useless. Because of these feelings, an avalanche of frustrations occurred. I was speaking to my friends with an incline towards hatefulness, and by speaking with an absence of love in my words, I, in turn, felt most unloved.

 Not only that, but I felt myself on the edge of slipping into a uncomfortably familiar state of being. It was as if I was standing at the top of a downward slope, and once the first step was taken, gravity’s momentum  would push me further into the black abyss that is depression. Once I went down, I knew I was not coming back up on my own. Yet I still sought to reason myself out of these feeling and speak truthful things to myself. However, that was only enough to keep me from stepping; it didn’t keep me from slipping. 

Someone was going to have to hold my arm and stand firm while I couldn’t. Someone was going to have to be strong where I was weak. In the moment where my heart felt hopeless and I saw no one around who could help, the Lord provided a friend to step in and speak these words of life over me:

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” -Romans 8:1

I have read Romans 8 more times than I have read any other passage of the Bible. This is a portion of Scripture that has been hidden away in my heart and mind for years. Yet when my friend proclaimed this passage over me, along with other truthful and loving things, my dry and cracked heart began to taste the slow and steady drip of healing. Much like a trickle of water in the Smoky Mountains, this small and crisp sip of refreshment began to rush downward into my weary heart and became a roaring river of forgiveness alleviating my sin. 

The action of a friend speaking the Word of Life gave way for the Spirit to break through to me. The Lord was, as He always is, completely divine in this intercession. My muffled and whimpering cry for help was heard by my loving Father, and He perfectly cared for my fragile heart. He provided by sending a member of His church to build me up and strengthen me. Yet this was only the beginning, for His great love overwhelmed me further still. How great is His tender care!

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” -Romans 8:26-27

It is an incredible gift to be reminded of God’s salvation so deeply and thoroughly. Thank God our hope is eternal, and we need not fear depression, because the battle has already been won in Christ Jesus. Praise Him who knows what we need better than we do, and provides salvation through His mysterious and wonderful means. 

Hopeful Wandering

In the midst of seemingly endless traveling, we remember that we are hopeful citizens of an eternal city, and we take comfort.

The idea of a hopeless wanderer carries with it the implication of a journey with no end in sight. There is no hope for the one who seeks to find himself along the way because there is no guarantee that he will find what he is looking for and therein direct his steps upon a path. He will not be able to step towards anything. It is possible for a man to step away from his current situation when it is dissatisfying or when he feels he is being held back. Yet stepping away can only be fulfilling if the steps move at an end that will keep a man from falling back into the very thing he sought to remove himself from.

First, he must be found, then he may step forward in confidence towards that which finds him.

The Christian who knows God knows what he is seeking and where he belongs because he has been found by the One who knows all things. When God calls us out of darkness, we are called into His light (1 Peter 2:9). Not only that, but we are then to live a manner worthy of the calling we have received (Ephesians 4:1).

At times it seems as though the follower of Jesus is able to be none other than a vagabond. For many, this is the lifestyle that we live in. I certainly resonate with those who are constantly traveling and are not sure where to call “home”. I have accepted that a regular part of my life may be moving from place to place, yet the way my thoughts are guided by this reality can shape the structure of my path.

The difference between those who travel as the world does and those who travel through the world is based on the end that is in mind. 2 Corinthians 4-5 help us remember that those of us who are a part of the holy nation belong not to this world, but to the eternal city of God. Our wanderings can not be called hopeless, for we have the greatest hope in the promise of our unity with Jesus for all time. Instead, we can only take comfort that we are hopeful wanderers in this life with the permanent promise of being forever with our King.

Fresh Face, Old Endeavor

Three or four times at least I have set out to engage the undertaking of becoming an esteemed “blogger”. Evidence of my success in this endeavor can be found in the gap between my last post on my former blog, and the first post on this one. It adds up to one year. Clearly, I am not a disciplined “blogger”. Thus, in beginning a new website, I also seek to begin a new way of thinking.

Instead of setting out to become a blogger, I am simply stepping into the mindset of a writer. Though books, poetry and articles are not things I claim to have the gift of producing, I still believe in what I have received as a means by which I can write.

What is this that I have received? It is grace, and this grace has been given to me by Jesus Christ. He has given me a great gift in His grace, and this is the gift of knowledge. Knowing God in Jesus is Eternal Life (John 17:3). This eternal life is what my heart yearns for more than all else. The world offers much in the realm of contemplation and knowledge, but true knowledge is founded in Christ (Colossians 2:8-15). It could appear overwhelming when trying to seek truth while being bombarded with the philosophy of man. But we must take heart in the gift that we have been given to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Jesus (2 Corinthians 10:5). Through Him we can have understanding and wisdom of things that seem otherwise unobtainable.

I am making it my prayer that I would “run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding” (Psalm 119:32). My claim is not that I will present new ideas or profound concepts, but that the grace and knowledge of Jesus that I continue to grow in would be presented here in detail as encouragement or edification (2 Peter 3:18).