Jen's Jesus Journey

Encountering Jesus

I want to express at the start of this blog how little a person I am. Of myself I am incredibly small and weak. I have no greatness.  All that is appealing or winsome about anything I do or express is so very much of God and not me. I know that without the strength of Christ and the genius of the Holy Spirit, I have no power, no strength to win or influence or inspire. I must pray through so many moments of every single day because that is literally the only way for me to make it out the door and through the process of regular life. I pray through dishes and showers, through walks and work. I am a praying fool because I must to survive and even begin to succeed at the most minimal of matters.

And yet, I feel so strongly that God has called me to share my story, not as somebody special or extraordinary, but as someone in constant desperate need of God’s intervening hand. I don’t ever mean to say that my experiences are a standard of right. I simply am endeavoring to share with you, the reader, the places the Lord has brought me and the wonder and understanding I feel I have gleaned in this process. I struggle often to write these blogs, to share the challenges and the beauty that I experience. I know there will be detractors who scoff or mock or disagree, but I push past that for people who I feel will gain something from my story and my experiences.

 

So, there I was. August of 2014 just home from a stunning, life-changing weekend of God’s word, friendship and healing. Lying on my bed my first night home in wonder and awe at the transformation Jesus had wrought inside of me in the previous year after a lifetime of bible study and following God. After decades of calling myself a Christian, I finally felt as though I had met Jesus and could actually call him a friend.

One of the songs we often sang in the home churches I grew up in was “Constantly Abiding.” The second stanza of that song, that we slightly modified, reads:

“All the world seemed to sing of a savior and lord.

When peace sweetly came to my heart.

Troubles all fled away and my night turned to day,

Blessed Jesus, how glorious thou art!”

I used to literally sing this song and have no idea what it was about. I had never experienced a relationship with Jesus that I could remember.

Then that Sunday night at the start of August 2014, I pondered what I could give King Jesus as a gift.  I was remembering the lyrics to a song where the singer gives his song as a gift. Lying there I thought, I have no musical ability, I have no song to gift, what can I give him?

I’ll give him my heart I thought. In my mind’s eye, I placed my heart on an altar to the Lord Jesus. I wasn’t thinking about how my heart was a bigger gift than a song. I wasn’t trying to be clever or look good. I was being genuine in the privacy of my heart and soul, lying on my bed.

I couldn’t have anticipated how much my life would change from this act. I didn’t know that misleading teachings had led me away from allowing Jesus Christ to truly be my Lord and Savior.  I didn’t understand so many things in the moment that I did them. But that is life. So much of life we don’t understand till later. A book I was reading recently said we live life forward but we understand it backwards.

I had confessed Romans 10:9, 10 as a four-year-old girl, confessed Jesus as my Lord and Savior and looking back, I think I did know Jesus then as that little girl confessing Jesus in the chapel of the Christian pre-school I was attending. However by eight years old already I began to come under the grip of religion on the one hand and hurt on the other hand. These two great lies, two sides of evil that are both wrong, usurped King Jesus from his rightful place on the throne of my heart. I’ve often wondered why I was saved at such a young age, and I think now that part of the reason is so God could save me before I went down a twisted road of interior corruption.

God showed me a picture in the fall of 2014 of how he had guarded and protected my inner spirit from all the wrongs and hurts and twisting from the crazy paths I went down. Some people go down those roads without God and meet him afterwards and are made clean. I do believe he was with me through it all, but much of my thinking became darkened and deceived, and I had to be cleansed and healed afterward.

Romans 10:9, 10 from my KJV bible.

Romans 10:9, 10 in the King James Version that I grew up on reads:

9) That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

10) For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

So many incredible things happened in the coming week. Part of me wishes I had journaled more from that week, but I didn’t fully understand many of the things happening, so I’m not sure how much I could have journaled.

I had an experience that I will describe as the personal presence of the Lord Jesus. I have met people who have literally seen and spoken to Jesus. I did not have that experience, but for a day his presence was so tangible I could clearly speak to him in conversation and receive responses. It was incredible and beautiful and life-changing.

Toward the end of the day I was at the sink washing a dish and Jesus and I were having an exchange of humor and love that was healing me in a category. In that moment I thought, I can do anything with you by my side. With you Jesus, I am invincible.  I will be able to proclaim you and be victorious. That was the moment I realized this experience wasn’t going to last.

Yet, even as I realized this powerful sense of the presence of Jesus wasn’t going to remain with me for the rest of my days, Jesus told me he was never going to leave me and that he would always be just as present in moments where I could not feel him, as he was in that moment where he was so vivid and clear.

I have read and learned and believed all my life that God in Christ is present with me always, yet when Jesus said it to me that day it became real in a whole new dimension. I once heard a teacher say that God won’t give you revelation of things that are in his word. The exact example he used was that God won’t tell you by revelation that he loves you.

I think about that and how in my experience of the presence of Jesus, one of the most meaningful conversations was the one where he told me he would always be just as present with me as he was in that moment. All my life I’ve read in scripture and believed God is always with me, but now on tough days, in painful, devastating moments when I cannot “feel” Jesus with all my feelers turned on – I draw on that experience and I hold fast to the truth that Jesus Christ is just as present with me today as he was that day when I could see him so clearly in my mind’s eye and hear his voice strong and clear in my heart.

His presence was thrilling, exciting, funny….and overwhelming. By the end of the day, I realized, I couldn’t handle the strength of his presence, even where I knew I wasn’t fully, fully experiencing him. He had me laughing so hard as I tried to watch a favorite TV show, I was shushing him. I know it sounds nuts to watch TV when you have the Lord Jesus available for conversation, but I was getting maxed out on what I could handle and I still wasn’t sure how much I would continue to feel and sense him. I didn’t know it was really just that day. I don’t regret how I lived that day. It was beautiful and wondrous and he revealed much understanding and reassurance to my heart.

At one point I asked him why when I imagined his eyes I saw them as blue when it seemed to me that as a middle-eastern man of Jewish descent his eyes should be brown or black even. He expressed to me an understanding that people see him as they are able to receive and understand him. It was especially fun when the following year I sat through a class on the prophetic where a whole line of people stood up and gave a “word.” We were instructed to go to the person who gave a word that we felt was for us. Well, individual after individual gave a word that resonated with me. But then, almost the last person, a woman gave a word that also sang to my heart, and then she added, “And he says his eyes are blue.” Well, I knew that was the word for me!

The wonder is that me, a girl who wrestled with suicidal ideation for more than thirty years, a girl who spent a season having to check herself into the psychiatric ward to avoid harming herself, the girl who spent four years using cocaine on a regular basis, along with marijuana and another number of years abusing other medications – this girl has found that in Jesus all her wrongs are made right and all of her mess is turned into something useful.

I am made new again and again in his presence and in his friendship. He is my constant friend and the Captain of my Salvation. I seek to spend all my days glorifying him, becoming more like him, collapsing against him in my struggles, slipping into him for strength beyond my own.

That is the most wondrous discovery of it all. Jesus is the pearl without price. Jesus is the prize. To find Jesus is to find the way. To find Jesus is to find the truth. To find Jesus is to find life.

 

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