Hello Counseling blog,
It’s been a long time. Two and a half years to be exact, and in that time a lot has changed. I went from a student to working full time, moved three times, lived with 7 different people, worked with over 30 different students, made new friends and lost old ones, and found myself stretched in ways that I would have never imagined. It hasn’t been easy. In the past two and a half years, I’ve been betrayed, rejected, and judged by those I’ve considered like family. I’ve struggled with finances, living situations and a lot of uncertainty about the future. I’ve seen people do awful things to each other and found that I could relate to all of them. My sin, pride, and stubbornness has popped up uglier and more loudly than I would ever want to admit. There were been many times where I wanted to give up and run away. And I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.
It’s been the best few years of my life. With all of those things, I’ve been totally and completely floored by God’s patience and grace. Life with Jesus is so FULL. I’ve laughed harder, hoped more, and relaxed with the best friends anyone could ask for. Anytime I worried about money, God provided in such obvious ways. I see more how God understands and has already gone through everything I have, and in turn have been able to allow people to know and understand me and get to know them more deeply. God constantly surprises me in his humor and how gently he takes care of his people.
One of the best and most painful things has been facing the reality of my selfishness, while experiencing the sweetness and freedom of God’s forgiveness. A few weeks ago, our church celebrated Easter and studied Matthew 28. I got really emotional as we were talking about Jesus’ relationship with Mary Magdalene, because I am just like her. I literally would have nothing without Jesus. Mary was the definition of an outcast. She was possessed by seven demons a.k.a. she was perfectly possessed a.k.a. this girl was messed up beyond hope. No one wants to hire, marry, or even touch a demon possessed girl, so Mary had no friends, no money, no husband, no sanity, nothing. She meets Jesus. He sees her and heals her. After that, Mary is his forever. Even after she watches Jesus die, she would do anything for him. Mary wasn’t thinking that Jesus was going to rise from the dead or worried about the next logical step for her life. All she wanted to do was to take care of Jesus’ body. You can see her just waiting for Sabbath to end. As soon as it’s dawn, she’s on her way to the tomb with the other Mary. It doesn’t matter that there is a guard of soldiers and a four thousand pound rock in the way. She goes, because Jesus saved her life, and she has nothing without him.
But Jesus is nowhere to be found. Instead, there’s an angel who tells them that Jesus is alive, and he’s headed to Galilee to meet them and his disciples. Jesus, in his signature unexpected style, makes a U-turn and comes to meet Mary and Mary. Jesus is really alive and in front of them saying, “Greetings!” and “Do not be afraid!” Jesus just rose from the dead, and all he wants to do is be with the people he loves. Mary comes to him, takes hold of his feet, and worships him.
I want faith like that. Forget figuring out what’s right and wrong. Forget trying to find that missing piece of information that will make you “get it”. Forget learning how to be a good friend. Forget any “sacrifices” that I made for God. Forget my expectations of what I think God is supposed to be like. Everything is trash compared to knowing my Jesus. I want to worship at Jesus’ feet, because I have absolutely nothing without him.
So dear friends, beloved church, hold on. Hold out with patient endurance in our life with Jesus. Loving Jesus and loving others is completely worth it. There are days where the bad stuff seems to outweigh the good stuff – When the world is against you, people inside the church are against you, and you’re a big old sinner—but God has a hold on his people that no one and nothing in all of time can break. Life with Jesus is not easy, but it’s full. Since we have such a faithful Savior/Redeemer/Friend, you can be vulnerable and love other people. They might disappoint. Actually, they will definitely disappoint you, but God won’t. Jesus loves his people to the end. Hold on and fix your eyes ahead to where God is taking us. Jesus is the same wonderfully merciful Savior right now to us all the way to the end of time. John, Jesus’ youngest disciple, has a vision where he sees Jesus in the throne room of God, where Jesus is in his full blazing glory.
“When I [John] saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, ‘Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades!’” (Revelations 1:17-18)
Do you see how He is the same Jesus through and through? He touches John and tells him not to fear, just like he touches Mary’s life, just like he is intimately in my life and your life. The way that Jesus loves Mary is the same way that he loves us, all the way to the very end. So hold on.