Probably like a lot of preachers, on Sunday mornings I arrive at church very early. As one tradition puts it, I like to make sure I am “fessed up and forgiven” before I dare open the Word of God to preach and teach. But, more than that, I’m trying to “find” Jesus again. Now, I don’t know what that sounds like to you who read this. On one level, I know I haven’t “lost” Him throughout the week. The Bible and my theology tell me my Good Shepherd will not let me go (John 10:28-29). But it’s one thing to “know” this by creed and cognition, but to truly really know I am His and He is mine, I need to know this at the heart level as well. So, one thing I often do, usually around 6:30 a.m. or so on Sunday mornings, is, I take a walk and listen to music, praying, talking, listening. One of my favorite songs I like to listen to is “Give Me Jesus” by Fernando Ortega: Besides the recurring chorus that says “Give me Jesus, Give me Jesus, you can have all this world, but give me Jesus”, the three verses say, “In the morning when I rise, in the morning when I rise, in the morning when I rise (chorus). Verse 2: “When I am alone (3x) and (chorus). Verse 3: “When I come to die (3x) and (chorus). The reason this song speaks to me on so many levels and prepares my heart once again to share God’s Word to the flock here at CrossWay, is that I often lose sight of Jesus throughout the week. This song then, as I listen to it again early on Sunday morning serves as both a confession/lament and a longing for Whose I am and Who I belong to. You see, there are times “in the morning when I rise”, my mind races ahead to other concerns, cares, and desires. I forget my life is about Jesus, as, my life is now hidden with Christ in God (Co. 3:3). To the extent I “forget” my Dear Lord, even if for a few moments, (it’s usually longer than that!), to that extent I am not most truly alive and enjoying Him to the full. And, as the second verse goes, “when I am alone”, how I need to remind myself in those quiet lonely times when I am tempted to go astray, that I need Jesus most of all. And then there’s the third verse: “When I come to die. . .” In my experience the fear of death fades when Jesus is both my morning meal and my feast when I am alone. All of this I have just shared has so much to say in the shaping of our upcoming Advent season which begins on November 27th. While Advent (the celebrating/anticipating the first and second comings of Jesus) celebrations vary from church to church, at CrossWay we like to focus on Jesus as our Hope, our Love, our Joy, and our Peace. As you are well-aware, in some ways and to some degree, we can experience hope, love, joy and peace in this world. But these things do not fully last and satisfy as the True Bread and Drink that is Jesus (John 6:55) The world gives and then takes away, hope, love, joy, and peace (John 14:27). In the process of living our live and being duped into believing the world can give us what we want, our hearts get broken again and again. During Advent especially, we are anticipating the coming of Jesus, the Light of the World. We cry out, “Give me Jesus”.
So, as I close this brief blog, I’d like to ask you – “Are you tired?” Have the hopes, loves, joys, and “peace” offered in this world left you more than a bit jaded, cynical and darker than you would care to dare admit? If so, He, our Lord Jesus came for you, my friend. During this Advent season, I would encourage you to cry out in the morning when you rise: “Give me Jesus.” And, when you are alone, cry out: “Give me Jesus.” So, when your time comes to die, our Father will give you Jesus. Jesus reminds us, His often weary and wandering sheep: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no once will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no once can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29). If you are at all like me, you must remind yourself of this often, so very often. Sometimes we feel like we have loosened our grip on Him. And, truth be told, sometimes we do, and, we must “find” Him again. But the Good News of the Gospel is that our hope is not in the strength of our grip or our ability to love our God. Our Hope is Jesus Himself and the love He has for us. Our resolve, will, and ability to hope and love waxes and wanes. But not His. During this Advent season, O Father, “Give us Jesus.”