Gratitude Day 272
Fri., May 17, 2019
1 John 4:11 – Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
I just wanted to feel closer to someone. I wanted this relationship to be at the place where I yearned for it to be. You know, like the person is REALLY a very good friend of mine?
At one point, I did feel close to this person. I’d spent time with this person and had shared much of my life with him.
Then, life happened. I got busy. I didn’t make time for the relationship. I chose everything over keeping a close relationship with this person. It wasn’t the other person who moved. Or stopped investing in me. Or no longer wanted to be on a first-name basis with me.
It was me. I’d stopped counting on this person as a dear, close, personal friend.
Then, one day, I wanted it back. I wanted to, once again, share my biggest joys as well as my deepest secrets. I wanted to feel his unconditional love and lack of judgement. I wanted assurances that there would always be a soft place for me to land. I didn’t want to keep plodding along in life, knowing this relationship could and should be deeper. More intimate. More fulfilling.
I decided to reinvest in this relationship. I decided to reinvest in Jesus.
It’s not that I ever stopped believing in Jesus. Or praying. Or worshiping. I just wanted Jesus back inside of me.
If you want to feel close to someone, you have to invest time and energy into the relationship. If you don’t, you won’t feel close. This is what happened with my relationship with Jesus.
I no longer had private, personal conversations with Jesus. Prayer was more of a quick little event to cross off my to-do list. I had stopped talking with Jesus throughout the day and boy, did my heart feel it.
So, what should I do?
I went back to the stories of Jesus. I committed to revisit and rediscover who Jesus was and what his purpose was. I would reread those accounts of Jesus’ life and make them personal for me.
Yes, I have read the gospel accounts hundreds of times. One semester of seminary, I think I read the gospel of John like 20 times for a particular class. This time? I’d read the stories of Jesus not because I was writing a sermon or planning what to teach during a class. I would read all four gospels, straight through, to see why Jesus is important to me.
My plan included reading one chapter of a gospel every day. I started with Matthew because, well, it’s the first gospel in the New Testament. And continued with Mark, Luke and then John. Along with my well-worn Bible, I kept a journal where I wrote down interesting things that I read about Jesus each day. Most importantly, I write a couple sentences after reading each chapter about what this chapter meant to ME. Not someone else; another theologian or pastor or seminary professor. What did Jesus’ words and actions mean to me?
For the last several months, nearly daily, I’ve pulled out my extremely well-worn Bible and read a chapter. My favorite Bible is running on fumes. It’s held together with, get this … duct tape. Honestly, it’s not even held together anymore. The spine is broken. Unless I hold the Bible together, part of it falls out when I open it up.
Some days, reading the chapter was fun and easy. Other days, I’d read the words and think to myself, “What did I just read?” Some days, I was so confused about what I read yesterday that I would re-read the chapter again. Some chapters were confusing two days in a row.
Most weeks, I read a gospel chapter 6 days. I never let myself miss two days in a row. I was committed to completing this exercise.
What happened as I read through Matthew, then Mark, Luke and eventually John? I discovered a more personal Jesus just for me. When I came to a favorite chapter, I was excited to read it again. I rediscovered why having regular talks with Jesus is important, necessary and healthy. A broken relationship can be restored.
I’m still figuring out who Jesus was, what lessons are most important and what to do with my life most days. But I do feel just a hare bit closer to him. I’m excited to read the Word of God again and let it speak to me.
Will there come another time in my life when I will feel far from Jesus? Yep. Will I need to redo this exercise sometime again? Absolutely. For now, I’ve rediscovering how important it is to spend with Jesus on a daily basis. Not because Jesus needs this; but because I do.
For rediscovering a closer relationship with Jesus, I am grateful.
My Dear Friend Jesus – thanks for not giving up on my when I moved away in our relationship. Thanks for staying right there, waiting for me to discover how much I want you in my heart and life. Thanks for being patient with me. Amen.
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