Oh, Jesus. I need You more than I realize. Do I even know You? Do You know me? How close would You say we are?
Day in and day out, I am consumed with my flesh. It is a black shadow that comes silently in the night. It sneaks in without a sound, and slowly wraps itself around me like a cloak. I don't even notice it at first until all at once it seems I am possessed. Taken over by negative thoughts, bitterness, and constant scowling. My heart is no longer pure, it's ragged and growling ferociously like starved lion. Love does not reside here.
At first the water feels good. It is refreshing. Following Jesus is so hard. It goes against every fiber of my selfish being. This drowning, indulging in my fleshly thoughts and harboring hurts and licking my wounds, it feels good. I like the smooth feel of the water, I like not having to fight against my thoughts and feel guilt. "This is nice", I think to myself. So slowly, the water rises. It starts at my feet, crawls up to my waist. I'm wading, oblivious to the danger I am in. That, or I do not care. I wrestle with loving the unlovable, being nice to those who drive me nuts, having compassion for those who seem to have brought things on themselves. My judgments may be correct but there is no love, no mercy. I judge only to condemn, when I should only judge in order to restore, to guide, to shepherd. To love. I do not give it to God, I do not battle these serpents in prayer. The water rises. It's up to my neck now and I am fuming. I read the Word. "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" "A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense." Overlook an offense!? No. I will not let them walk all over this church. I will not overlook it Lord.
I am drowning. No control, just sinking deeper and deeper. Panic sets in. I do not even recognize myself anymore. I fight desperately against the water, trying to claw my way up to the surface. Where Jesus is.
"Help me!" I cry out to Him. "Take these thoughts away from me. Change my heart. Take it away. I only want You!" So why is it that I am still sinking? Why does His face seem to drift farther away?
"Do you really want Me?" He asks. "Or do you just want to be saved from drowning? You say you want to do the Lord's will. Yet you cannot even love. Do you even know what His will is?" His eyes fill with tears and He says it so slowly, almost a whisper "Do you even know who I am? Do you know Me?"
I am stunned. I feel the weight of the water, my lungs feel as if any moment they will implode, it burns. Everything burns. The water is all around me and I have inhaled much of it, yet my mouth feels dry. It is scorched, dry like a desert. Just like my heart. Do I know Him? Do I truly want to follow Him?
"Yes. Yes. I love You, I need You. I have neglected our relationship, caught up in my own selfish desires. In my own life, forgetting that the whole purpose of this life was to follow You. To know You and make You known to the world." It's almost like waking up from a dream. I feel as if I have been dreaming, caught up in the woes of my life. In the sandpaper people. My world, hazy, empty. Constant noise. Unshakable thoughts, pointing fingers, rushing from one day to the next.
He reaches His hand down through the water. I cling to Him.
We are walking along the shore, and for the first time in a long time, it's quiet. There is nothing going on in my head except how much I want to stay in this moment with Him forever. And the realization fills me with joy that one day, not that far away, I will stay in that moment with Him. Forever.