Spending time with Jesus is a dangerous thing. Maybe I’ve always known this, but I think that this particular truth is challenging me in new and different ways. Mind you, I’ve gone through this before.
Several years back I was in an incredible small group Bible study at Park Street Church in Boston; I loved these people like family because after choosing truth and vulnerability over our ever-present facades, we knew each other’s strengths, weaknesses, flaws and fragile hearts. Part of what got us to this point was our study of the Gospel of John.
We reached the story about the woman who poured out an alabaster jar of expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet just a week before Ash Wednesday. That story amazes me because it exemplifies such an extravagant love for Jesus. I remember being captivated by the idea of extravagant love and, looking toward Ash Wednesday and Lent, I could not stop myself from challenging our group to do likewise. I challenged each of us to commit to some expression of extravagant love for Jesus until Easter.
For me, that translated into rising an hour earlier each morning to pray. Bleary-eyed and yawning, I stumbled through my tiny one-bedroom apartment to retrieve my first cup of coffee in the pre-dawn darkness. Not even my cat was up, though the beginnings of the morning rush hour were beginning to trickle through the streets beneath my windows.
There I’d sit on my worn lumpy blue futon, sipping coffee and uttering mostly unintelligible prayers, awkwardly and self-consciously at first, but eventually, intimate and deeply heartfelt. As Lent wore on, I remained bleary-eyed and yawning, but I also became fiercely protective of this morning extravagance. Easter came and went and even so, I never missed a morning with Jesus; I continued to rise early and meet him in our garden of prayer. And as I met with him, my attitude, my passions, my thoughts, my choices began to change.
Spending time with Jesus is a dangerous thing.
The relationship with the married-but-separated man I’d been in for too long finally ended though not easily for either of us. Because although so much about me was changing through my early morning moments with Jesus, my heart’s desire had not. Not yet. It was still bent on me and what I wanted.
But, spending time with Jesus is a dangerous thing.
After weeks of begging God to change my heart and being intimately comfortable enough with my Creator to wrestle with him and to yell at him and to push back at his plans for my life and my heart’s well-being it came down to one thing: me.
It came down to me. It came down to my choosing to trust him with everything, including my heart and its desires. It came down to my choosing to want to give up the relationship that was not intended for me and to do so willingly. It came down to my extravagant love for Jesus.
It came down to me laying all of my messy life at his feet and choosing Jesus over the world and it did not come without anger, tears, rage, wracking sobs, feelings that I knew better than God and, finally, real, genuine submission.
Two days later, just two days, I met the man I would marry. That was no coincidence; that was a God thing.
Because like I said, spending time with Jesus is a dangerous thing. As C.S. Lewis put it in the conversation between Lucy and the Beavers in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Jesus isn’t safe, but he is good.
I am relearning this truth. It started when I chose to journey to Jerusalem with Jesus this Lent. One cannot spend that much time in the presence of the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings and not come away changed.
Indeed, he is changing me. Again.
To find out what that change involves, you’ll have to come back and walk with me a little further on the journey from Galilee back to Jerusalem. I’d love to share it with you, if you’re willing to walk a little longer on this path with me. Oh, and while we’re walking, why don’t you share a little bit of your heart and your vision with me, because I’d love the opportunity to encourage you.