I love Jesus. I love Jesus, I love Jesus, I love Jesus.
Really, I want to end this post right there–because, to me, that is all that really matters. “All that really matters”, in the sense that it is the only truth that will ever endure–but also, “really all that matters”, in the sense that all else is insignificant.
I’ve been asked about this before–even chided for it. In my youth, a little over six months after I had received the Holy Spirit, a dear friend asked me if I ever “just had fun”, by which she meant going to the movies or reading a light novel. I said yes, even though movies represent boredom to me and I tend to be a literary snob. Yes, because all my joy really does come from the Scriptures. Yes, because my heart and soul and mind must sing, constantly, making melody in my heart to the Lord. Yes, because the One who remains at the core of my being and walks by my side day by day is more than all the simple pleasures we enjoy combined, yet He is also the One who infuses those same simple pleasures with His joy. Example: A ring is really just a piece of jewelry, but remembering that you received it on the same day on which you listened to “Holy and Anointed One” or read the gospel of John… that ring becomse a radiant treasure!
I have been told that this makes me more susseptible to guilt, more emotionally-fragile–particularly when I connect earthly events to my spiritual life. If I make a mistake in working with my guide-dog, then automatically come to the conclusion that I’m not showing others the love and perseverance God requires, am I not “too involved”? No, beloved reader–not too involved. A bit legalistic in the moment, perhaps, and a bit prone to relying on my flesh for a moment rather than accepting God’s all-sufficient grace, but not “too involved”.
Others have also wondered whether I ought to be a bit better-rounded. Ah, my dear reader, I’m better-roounded than most of my acquaintances, friends, or even close family know. I understand all the dynamics that led to the Civil War–and, for that matter, to the Franco-Prussian War, World War II, and the Hundred Years’ War. I speak French more fluently than most people will ever hear, am teaching myself Biblical and Modern Hebrew, and sometimes find myself tracing the devices used in Anglo-Saxon poetry and attempting to recreate them in modern Eglish. If you catch me in the right mood, I will introduce you th Helen Keller’s “predecessor”, Laura Bridgman, and enumerate the reasons I feel she was the epitome of an abused nineteenth-centure child/lab rat. I will further add that Helen Keller fared no better, for there is evidence that Ann Sulivan wrote most of the pieces ascribed to that great American heroine. I can describe the art of the bas-relief, give you a casual overview of most common medical conditions and a few uncommon ones, and demonstrate at least fifty ways to employ the double dash.
I can and sometimes do, but most of the time, I’d rather not. Instead, I’d rather discuss the pros and cons of the Revised Standard Version as compared with the New International Version, then opine on both as framed in the context of the New King James. I’d rather ask whether you believe John 7:51-8:11 was in the original manuscripts, then defend my position that it was indeed there all along. I’d rather inquire, no matter how grammatically-inclined you are, whether there is any excuse for not capitalizing the pronoun “I”, then suggest that failure to capitalize this crucial pronoun represents a believer’s humility in the knowledge of God’s greatness. Why try to speak French when you can share Korean worship music, regardless to the fact that neither you nor the person with whom you’re sharing the congregational piece knows the language? Every day, I awaken with two commands in my heart–one from the Old Covenant and one from the New. First, I am to think on the things of the Lord when I lie down and when I rise up (see Deut. 6); secondly, I must take up my cross and follow Christ, knowing that He is the only One Who can give me true rest.
Don Moen once led some five thousand worshipers in a song entitled “More Than Anything”. It’s on the album Eternal God, if you’re interested–and, trust me, you’re interested. That album is the second-closest thing to pure revival I’ve ever heard recorded. Anyway, the worship chorus is simple: “More than anything, / More than anything, / I love You, Jesus, / More than anything…” We love Him “more than worldly wealth” and “more than life itself”… Oh, it is marvelous!
And yet, it’s so easy for me to say here and now. At this very moment, sitting in my favorite chair in my fav orite place of worship, with nothing but blessings filling my day, with the sun shining and the lilies blooming and a gentle breeze lifting even mild cares off my heart, it is so easy to say that I love Him and that any “rounding” of my “square-peg” self is unnecessary. What will I do, though, if trials come? When last year’s guide-dog training proved so rigourous that I could scarcely read the Bible without feeling that I was wasting training time, did I cherish my Good Shepherd’s love so much? If at any time this overwhelming joy is replaced with quietude or a sense that God’s presence has faded in my life, will I still choose to sing Don Moen’s little song? When illness or difficult job experiences or grief or spiritual attacks have come, have I stayed the course? Have I taken up my cross–not the trials themselves, but the need to obey Christ during those valleys–and followed Him wherever He led?
I’m not perfect. I’m still a tree bearing what isn’t always ripe fruit–but I trust that, by the gracde of God, it will soon be ripe. Some days, I find myself heading toward a mountain and I don’t know what to do. Sometimes, I don’t have the faith to move that mountain, and I don’t know whether I possess the strength to climb it. And so, without really meaning to, I cry out, “Lord, why did You lead me here?” And then, I remember. I remember, deep in my heart, that “more than anything” means just that–more than the trial, the mountain, my own pain or struggle, more than anything. So right now, I say to my Savior, “I love You, Lord, in all circumstances whether joyful or challenging… more than anything.”