When I was a young child, I accepted the gift of salvation that Jesus offers to all of us. I understood that He sacrificed Himself on the cross for my sin, that He rose again and now lives with His Father in heaven. I understood that He lived a sinless life on earth, that He was all man, and all God too. I understood a few very important things about my Lord Jesus. And I wanted to be saved by Him.
What I failed to grasp, was that I needed to make Him the Lord of my life. That by asking Him into my heart and life, I should not only have been asking to accept the gift of salvation, but for Him to help me, guide me, direct me, love me, BE with me….while I still roam this earth, and always. I accepted the salvation offer as far as my eternity was concerned, but I didn’t want to give everything up in order to follow after Him and His will in my life. I was sorry for my sins, but I didn’t really repent from them – as in, decide to completely turn away from them and ask Him to help me stay away from them as well.
As I “grew up”, I definitely knew within myself that I needed to do this, and I chose not to. I had no excuses…I was no longer a small child, and I had been provided with ample opportunity to make this choice and refused to do so. I could hear God nudging me, but I wouldn’t listen. I was choosing to go my own way. Whether or not that means I was really saved is not why I am writing about this today. I do have to say though, that I am not so sure that if I would have taken my last breath in my mid 20’s, where I might have spent all eternity.
See, I didn’t want to admit that I need His help each and every day, each and every moment. I didn’t want to commit to developing a deep and personal relationship with Him. I didn’t choose to make that relationship two-way. And as a result, I cut Him off and out of my life. This brought about a lot of suffering in my world that I couldn’t withstand without help. I looked to the wrong things to assuage that pain.
I am writing to you tonight to share how very important it is to make Him the center of our lives – And I’d like to share some about how this played out for me……..
In college, as I was drifting further and further away from Jesus and all I knew to be true, my very favorite song was one that represented my deepest wish….to just be numb. It was called “Comfortably Numb”, by the band Pink Floyd. Here are just a few of the lyrics you will find in the song:
- “Hello. Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anyone home?”
- “Come on…Now. I hear you’re feeling down. I can ease your pain. Get you on your feet again.”
- “There is no pain you are receding. A distant ship’s smoke on the horizon. You are only coming through in waves. Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying. I have become comfortably numb.”
- “When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse. Out of the corner of my eye. I turned to look but it was gone. I cannot put my finger on it now. The child is grown, the dream is gone. I have become comfortably numb.”
There is no question that this song sounded good, but what it represented for me in my life at the time was quite true, and not pretty at all. It was a perfect snapshot of how I was living my life, how I approached Jesus, and the darkness and sadness I was filled with and would carry around with me for a very, very long time.
I didn’t want to feel anything, my friends. I knew that I had to squash out the Holy Spirit to live my life the way that I thought I wanted to, and to do so, I would have to become numb. I went after that with all that I had.
Numb to the pain of depression, sadness and loss. Numb to the dissatisfaction caused by feelings of not being adequate, valuable, or worthy. Numb to the emptiness of not feeling loved, accepted, and a part of something the world adored. Numb to the reality of who I was, how I was living my life, and the fact that I was running from the truth of Jesus Christ.
I had to work hard to do this, yet not lift a finger either. Believe me when I say there were plenty of numbing agents available right at those very fingertips. I simply needed to sit around and wallow in mediocrity…in self-centered desires. But I also had to think every moment of just what I would do to forget about it all once my “responsibilities” of the day were taken care of and out of the way. The work came in to play through the fact that it became harder and harder to stay numb. I had to make achieving this the absolute center of my life – And it ran me ragged.
In those days, I turned to lots of things for my necessary anesthetics. Sometimes I would party it up and drink myself into a stupor. Other times I would just stay in bed for a couple of days at a time. And then there were other things too. I don’t make it a practice to look back on those days too terribly often, because the Lord wants us to look forward and focus upon the present joy we have in Him now. But, it can be beneficial to share these things with others – others who may benefit from seeing how our Father can deliver us from so much darkness if we just allow Him in – if we choose not only to ask for salvation, but ask Him to be the Lord and King of our lives – If we stop running away from, and start running toward our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Later in life, I hid behind less ugly looking things in order to become numb, which now, I realize was just another form of sin that looked more acceptable to myself and to the world – I was “layered in goodness” as I like to say. In fact, a lot of these things were applauded. Things like being completely dialed in and having total control over everything I did…everything I touched. Striving to be the most dependable…the most caring….the most trustworthy, kind, compassionate, successful, self-driven, self-sufficient, and about a hundred other things I could list, person around. The deceitful web was being woven much more proficiently – it had to be in order to keep me in and drown Him out.
It really wasn’t until a few years ago that I started to really understand that what was missing all along was my willingness to completely let go of all of that – that sense of control and being in charge of my own life. I had to give up my life to God completely, and choose to follow Him. See, I didn’t want there to be a cost to be a follower of Christ…. I wanted to enjoy the benefits of being “saved” but not take up my own cross and truly love Him and surrender to His will. Although salvation is offered out of grace, being a true follower, lover of, and child of God is something that definitely comes with a cost. It is not always comfortable – it can be really uncomfortable, in fact. But it is always rewarding.
Those sins we are saved from and that gift of eternal life? Well, it cost Jesus something. It didn’t just happen to come easily. Although I can never repay Him, or earn my way to heaven, (Jesus paid it all) I still owe Him everything I have. But this is not a drudgery to me at all….I want to give all of myself to Him now. Not because He needs me, but because He wants me, and because I truly love Him. I have my acceptance. I have my love. I have my success -and it’s all wrapped up in Him. That’s far better than a superficial layer of goodness…it’s down deep.
There is a lot more I could share about this, but maybe I will have to do that in the form of an entire book one day. And some things…well, some things there are just not enough words for. I am not sure yet, but I am not convinced that this isn’t one of those things – the entirety of it all, I mean.
Now that I have made Him the core of my life…now that I am no longer drowning out the Holy Spirit, living for Jesus instead of for me, and am seeking to follow God’s will and spend every moment in His presence; I am getting a really good taste of both the blessings that come along with that as well as the hard stuff. Just because we finally decide to commit our entire lives to Jesus, it doesn’t mean that we have “arrived” to a point of perfection in our daily lives and walk with the Lord. Ha Ha. This will be a journey that does not end until we go home to live with Him for all eternity – and then…. well….then, the greatest journey of all begins! And it shall never end. I venture to guess there will not be discomfort involved.
Until then though, the two ends of the spectrum actually co-exist for me right now in a couple of different areas in my life: The blessings, and the hard and uncomfortable stuff. I have had seasons in which it was mostly peace and happiness, and the absence of stress to embrace and enjoy. There have been other times in which I have been in dark and granite-hard places with very little sign of physical or emotional peace on the horizon any time soon. But Jesus has been there with me the entire time and His true joy and true peace have been there under it all the whole way through. Thanks be to God!
Yes, right now, I am in a very strange season – it’s all mixed together like I mentioned. I am experiencing a deepening of my relationship with Him, am starting to really feel love for others grow and grow by the day, am wanting to reach out to people in need, make more close friends at my church, and my family is really flourishing. At the same time, I am frustrated and feel kind of in limbo about where I am supposed to be, as far as what I do outside of my home – in service to others, in relation to my employment, and a few other things too.
And again, there is that duality at work here of waiting upon the Lord and listening to His voice, and taking steps on my own to determine what doorknobs to turn right now. I was thinking tonight about the following verse and how it keeps coming back to me over and over again….
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Phillippians 4:6
Tonight at church as this verse came to mind while I was immersed in worship of my King, and I thought to myself…”I wonder if a particular verse in God’s word can ever just get ‘used up’?” You know, get old, lose it’s freshness, not be applicable any longer? And the Lord whispered to me that His word shall never pass away…..that it will always be applicable in my life….that He put it in my mind, yet again this evening for His divine reasons…which are always good.
Unlike the verse says, I am feeling anxious right now – but I don’t want to be. I do feel lost in this particular area of my life, yet I don’t want to feel that way. I felt so discouraged Friday night at work and came home in the wee hours of the morning so very upset with myself for being that way. I feel unrest in my heart about where I am supposed to be, where I am supposed to go. I am not comfortable at all in this area or circumstance, yet the Lord has helped me to persevere. I don’t feel at peace about it, but I have HIS peace. I don’t feel happy all the time, but I have HIS joy. And I know….I know with absolute certainty, that He has my back. He has His plans for me! I am no longer rolling the dice about what direction I will be going. And regardless of this one area being less-than-fulfilling, I don’t look to that area for contentment…so there it is!
No matter what happens – no matter how things work out – through the waiting, the feelings, the discomfort and the raw of it all – He is with me. I am no longer numb. Sometimes I don’t like how that feels. But I see the greater purpose for it now – at least. I see as much of it as the Lord wishes to reveal to me for where I am currently at. He has undone my numbness, and for that, I am so very grateful. And I can hear His voice now – I am no longer choosing to drown it out. I can be grateful for what I have, seek His will right where I am at, while simultaneously staying open to what He may have in store for me tomorrow. It’s all good! We get to feel the uncomfortable things this way, yes we do…but we get to feel God and the good things He has for us as well. Numb is numb all the way around. And un-numb…..it’s un-numb through and through also.
The light of Jesus is no longer a “distant ship’s smoke on the horizon” for me. And that “fleeting glimpse”? Well, it’s no longer fleeting or just coming in from the corner of my eye – HE is dead center. And the child? The child is back….she has been reborn. She is growing more and more child-like as God “grows her up” by the moment. And because of HIM, she has become un-numb.
Comfortable or not, she’s glad to feel again. She’s glad to hear again. She’s glad to see again…to look full in His wonderful face. She is glad, she has His joy and peace, His salvation for all eternity and His daily saving grace…and in the most un-numb way that could possibly be..she is forever-grateful to Him….forever grateful that He has undone the comfortably numb.