I Came To See Jesus

Sometimes, I’m a hypocrite. I go to church, dressed nicely in my favourite red dress with a smile on my face. I sing the songs just like everyone else. My bible fits nicely under my arm. I even take notes. On the surface, I could look perfect. On the inside though, I’m rotting like an apple core in yesterday’s compost.

This week has been full of church services and gatherings, and I’ve had plenty of chances to exercise hypocrisy. To look neat and great on the outside, but sit there rotting on the inside. Rotting with shame, sadness, jealousy, anger, worry, you name it. Sometimes, my heart is so consumed with talking to a certain person afterwards or getting home to finish Biology, that the words I’m singing are meaningless. Nothing that the pastor says sinks in. You’d think I was a three-year-old, I’m squirming so much. Because sometimes I go to church to see me. I go for my desires, wants, and needs. I go to see myself glorified.

Church doesn’t refresh me on those days. Youth group is a miserable affair when I look for myself. Every time that happens, I leave feeling like a failure. I wish I could start over. Because the desires of the self are empty and foolish. I am empty and foolish on my own.

On Wednesday, I decided to go to church to see Jesus. Forget my friends, people who I want to talk to, stuff that I have to do later, and my needs, I decided. I wanted to see Jesus.

And so I went. It was funny, but I had to constantly remind myself who I’d come for. Not myself, but Jesus.

“You stood before my creation. Eternity in your hand. And you spoke the earth into motion. My soul now to stand.”

We sang my favourite song. I smiled. We used to sing it in Mexico when I first realized that God actually loved me. I always feel great when I sing it. I’d come to see Jesus and He was there.

You stood before my failure. Carried the cross for my shame. My sin weighed upon your shoulders. My soul now to stand.

I felt like hanging my head at the shame, but the music urged me to sing on. And I thanked Jesus for His gift. I’d come to see Him and He stayed.

So I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned. In awe of the one who gave it all. I’ll stand. My soul Lord to you surrendered. All I am is yours.

I always feel like rising my arms at this point, but I never do. That’s just not my style. When the speaker came up and asked us to though, I had no choice. I did it. I was shy at first. But soon I raised my arms higher. If I came to see Jesus, who else should matter besides Him?

That evening came and went, as did many others like them. Some were good for a time. Some ended in feelings of regret. There were times when I let go and served myself. Those nights I felt bad and sick, but when I came for Jesus, I was whole again. So today and everyday, I will seek and find Him once more.

Yes, I came to see Jesus and He was waiting for me.

Jesus At The Clinic

“Do you have ID with you?” the woman at the front desk asked.

“Y-yes,” I answered, fumbling in my wallet for my driver’s licence.

As she recorded my information on the computer, I looked at the pamphlet in front of me. It was full of questions about disease and medicines and instructions for the procedure. I really did read it, but everything happened so fast that I soon forgot. I glanced back at Holly and Daragh and we smiled at each other, knowingly.

A few more desks and interviewers and a thousand questions later, I was seated on a dentist-like chair, with my arm strapped to a bunch of tubes and cords that I tried to figure out. “Remember to keep clenching your fist,” the kind nurse reminded. I pulled my fingers in and out and in and out again and again. I tried to read my book, but I never got past the first page.

“What will it feel like? Will it hurt? Will I faint?”

And then suddenly, I heard a song. His body the bread…His blood the wine… broken and torn out all for love. And the whole earth trembled and the veil was torn. Love so amazing. Love so amazing. And I remembered — I’m not the only one who gave blood before.

No, there was another. Quite another, He was. He gave it while strapped to a tough, rugged cross while I just sat on this medical-bed-type thing. His hands were nailed to the wood and His body bled. There was a scar in His side. My blood would just flow neatly from my vein into the tube. And while I gave my blood to save one earthly life, He gave to save the world from eternal death.

“If you don’t want to look, now would be the time to turn away,” the nurse said, rubbing that liquidy stuff onto my arm.

I turned my head but I smiled. I smiled at my friend and sister who waited for me. I smiled at the other people waiting to give blood. I smiled at the thought of Jesus, my own blood donor.

I’ve had a stressful week, sleepless nights, and some questions for God. I’ve wondered a lot and cried a bit. I’ve searched, but I never thought I’d find Him at a blood donor clinic. I guess that’s because Jesus is everywhere, always willing to give us His blood.

What If It’s Love?

Sometimes, I get wrapped up in the rules. I worry too much about the length of my skirt or the tightness of my shirt. I try to be as proper as I can be. I hope that other people can see how good I am being, and I judge those who don’t do what I do.

But no matter how hard I try, it isn’t good enough. My skirt is always too short and my shirt too tight. I’m never proper, and people don’t notice me. And I feel rotten. Being a Christian doesn’t save me when I focus on pleasing the flesh.

Lost and weary from trying so hard and never succeeding, I cry and try again. But it still doesn’t work. Because when I strive for other people to notice my faith, I’m striving for human acknowledgement. I want the approval of man, not God. And men look at the outside, and often dislike what they see and disappoint us with their actions. There is no hope with man for the flesh cannot fulfill us.

So, what is it about then? What am I to strive for? I’m no expert on this subject but I’ve been thinking that maybe it’s love. Yes, love. Maybe it isn’t about rules or laws or judgement or being the ‘proper Christian.’ Because when Jesus came, He didn’t care much for those rules and regulations either. He just made friends with everyone, whether they were a prostitute or a tax collector. He didn’t judge or hate or degrade, because unlike man, God looks at the heart and loves no matter what.

So now, finally, love is what I’m going to live. Yes, I am changing my heart at last. I’ll strive to be the best Christian that I can be, but I’m not going to do it for man, but for God. And most of all, I’m going to love, because that is what being God’s child is all about.

Too Beautiful

I’ve always been a Christian. Well, ever since I was four years old at least. Growing up homeschooled and in a church, I knew more Christians than non-Christians. For the longest time I thought that forms of taking God’s name in vain were the swear words. By the time that I was fifteen, God was everything to me. I professed my faith, and headed off on a missions trip to Mexico. Today, my faith is even bigger and stronger, but the new world around me is crumbling apart.

“There just stories to inspire people.”

“People like Albert Einstein just used religion to help them when they were having trouble with their work. It helped him because he thought it helped.”

“I believe in the things that have been proven like sure, Jesus was a prophet who walked on the earth, but how can I believe that he rose again after he was crucified. There isn’t any proof.”

“I don’t think that God exists.”

I’ve heard it all said by now, and for a moment I feel like a fool. A man dying for the sins of the world and rising from the dead does sound strange when you think about it. I can’t actually see the face of God either. How do I know that He exists? What am I to say now?

But then I look around me. I see the trees and sunshine and the bright blue sky, the ocean and waves and the sand. So beautiful. I look at people, each unique yet perfect with their shining eyes that see so clearly, bodies that can dance and jump and run, minds that think up great poems, stories, ideas, and emotions, and voices that convey these thoughts. So beautiful. I think of where I am today. I remember the sorrows that I have been through, the pits I’ve fallen into, and I realize that I have come quite far. So beautiful.

Now, I wonder at them. I don’t like to call names but really, it is foolish not to believe in God. There is such beauty in life that the world and humans could not have just “happened.” We cannot just exist and go through trials and pains and come out of them without a good and gracious God overseeing and helping us. It’s too beautiful for words, really. Too beautiful not to have been created by an infinite, eternal, and loving God.

When you ask me why I believe in God, I can only say this: “Why don’t you believe in Him?”

My Favourite Christmas Present

It’s Christmas Eve but I don’t understand it.  All month I haven’t been able to fully realize that Christmas is just around the corner. How can it be Christmas tomorrow? I keep wondering.

It’s not just that either, I haven’t been looking forward to Christmas this year. I didn’t complain when we got our tree on the 21st, I didn’t enjoy decorating the tree, and I put off doing baking until last Sunday. I don’t really care too much about the presents I’m getting and I realized yesterday when I started to feel a bit sickish that I wouldn’t even mind getting sick for my own sake (I would be worried for my Grandma though.)

Where is this less-materialistc, depressing, passive view on Christmas from? Is it that I’ve lost all of my joy in life or am I just growing up? Have I finally realized the true meaning of Christmas or is this simply a pattern in the grief of loosing Situ (my grandmother)?

I’d say that although I have grown up and while I do think about the true meaning of Christmas even more now, that the reason is Situ’s recent death. This is my first Christmas without her after all. Plus, everything that I seem to feel gloomy about has links to her. I didn’t feel like doing the Christmas baking because it made me think about her and how much she loved being in the kitchen. I don’t want any presents because it reminds me of how she used to brag about how many presents she was giving me. I didn’t care about getting the tree or decorating it because I was consumed in my grief. I don’t feel like seeing family because it will remind me that she’s gone.

I guess there is some guilt too. Last Christmas, we were supposed to go to her apartment for Christmas dinner and my Uncle and Aunt and Grandfather were going to come out for the holiday as well. I remember how I really didn’t want to because I thought it would be tedious and boring (while I was extremely close to Situ, in general, I’ve always been closer to the other side of the family.) However, we didn’t get to do any of it anyways because she went into the hospital. So, my Uncle and Aunt and Grandfather cancelled their trips and we stopped in to visit Situ on the way to my mom’s family’s house. And instead of preparing a feast and spending Christmas day with her whole beloved family, Situ, my grandmother, was forced to lie in a cold hospital bed with short breads and Christmas cards for company.

Now, I know that none of this was my fault. In fact, Situ didn’t even know that I wasn’t excited about going to her place for Christmas. But for some reason I can’t stop feeling bad and wishing that we had our little Christmas party after all (I know that there was nothing I could have done about this anyway.)

A  Christmas with Situ.

Other Christmas memories with Situ stream my memory too. My mind goes off in a flurry of “Do you remembers?” whether I ask for it or not. Do you remember the year she gave you and Daragh the Santa hats and the three of you were matching on Christmas day? Do you remember the one time that you went to her apartment for Christmas with the rest of the family? Do you remember the year that she felt unwanted and went to a political function dinner instead? Do you remember the year that she gave you ten gifts, or was that twelve? Do you remember how she would phone you on Christmas day when she’d go to visit Uncle Buck and Aunty Rose? Do you remember how she used to alternate Christmases with them and then with you? Do you remember seeing her in the hospital last Christmas and bringing her the short breads? Do you remember when you hurt her feelings by saying that Grancha (your other Grandma) made the best pies? Do you remember the pie contest that you arranged but that didn’t work out? Do you remember the Christmas dresses? The one that was black with silver sequins on top? The one that you wore the Christmas you were eight? The Christmas that you were with her, the Christmas that you were happy…Do you remember? Do you remember? There are no more memories to come….

These things haunt me and sometimes I feel like crying when I remember that last part: there are no more memories to come. I try to be happy about Christmas, knowing that Situ would want that for me. But realizing that I won’t see her this Christmas, is harder than ever. Knowing that there will be no more fights about whose house we go to, no more Christmas day nights sleeping out on the couch, no more tension at the Christmas table does not help at all. Situ is still gone and she’s not coming back, even for Christmas. It’s ten times worse than when she went to the political function instead of to our house. Situ and Christmas are no longer entwined.

But even through my grief, I can hear God’s voice calling to me and saying “I came on Christmas. I came for you and I came for Situ too. I came so that you would not have to die but so that you could live in Heaven forever.” His voice is calm and comforting and it wipes away the tears for I know that because of the first Christmas gift, my grandmother lives in Heaven right now with no pain like she had last Christmas, no tension like she had when she’d spend Christmas with my mom’s side of the family, no spitefullness like she felt when she went to the political function and no hurt feelings like I gave her over the pie. Situ may be on this earth no more, and memories of her may be extinct but because of the virgin birth, because of a child born in a stable, because of Jesus Christ Situ no longer suffers and I will see her again one day.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you: he is Christ the Lord.’

Luke 2: 8-11

There, isn’t that the greatest news ever? Jesus came to save us! Jesus has come! Jesus is here and He will take care of us. Situ is home, safe and sound and to her that is the best Christmas present ever. And my best Christmas present is the one, not under the tree, but in my heart, the one wrapped with love and filled with hope…the blessed birth of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Elizabeth