The crowd was wild with enthusiasm and rowdiness as we entered the bar that was transformed to a stage that night. My friend who had asked me to attend the talent show with her was as surprised as me at the crowd, the noise, and the various people attending. Not normally my cup of tea, but a welcome diversion to the trial I was going through at the time.
Personally I had so much happening in my life and my husband was in Arizona trying to earn some much needed funds working for his step-mom. I didn’t know where God was taking us and it was just starting to get to me, so I just needed to get out.
So, there I was sitting down front, among the partiers and the talent show people, and I had to go the lady’s room. I made myself get up and walk through all the people, who were staring at me, to go to the back of the night club and find the bathrooms.
I had this dialogue going on in my head as I sat down in the stall.
Why am I here..in this building?
What is going to happen to us?
I think I’ll just stay in this stall.
Is that a spider on the wall?
You know, the temptations of worry and random things that creep up at the most inopportune times?
So, there I was, ahem, sitting in privacy in the back of a bar, in the bathroom stall, when I heard His voice.
“I have this, you know.”
I start looking around, embarrassed.
“Seriously, Lord, You are talking to me NOW? While I sit here in this stall?” I embarrassingly say.
I politely tucked my clothes around myself.
“I hear your heart, Dixie, and I want you to know I have a plan and this will all turn out okay. I am doing a work.”
(I love it when He says my name.)
Then it hit me.
I have an intimate relationship with a Savior who doesn’t leave my side. He didn’t quake at entering this bathroom stall with me in the back of this bar. He cared about me at that moment and He heard my anxious thoughts within me and it didn’t matter to Him where I was sitting.
He is that personable and loving and funny. He knew I would be amused that He was in there with me. After all, I thought, He made this body, so it doesn’t threaten Him where I am at.
Do we even comprehend that He made this kind of relationship with a very real and living God possible, by what He accomplished on the cross that day?
Do we know the depths of what His walking out of that grave on the third day really means? Do we know how much is available for us right now because He purchased it for us with His own blood– that we still don’t walk in?
It is easy to celebrate the resurrection as our custom is at Easter and miss the most important reason we honor that day.
It means Jesus is alive.
He rose from the dead on the third day after He was killed.
But sometimes we let it pass us by that He came for a reason that is so big it threatens to overwhelm us. It wasn’t just so we could go to Heaven when we die, though that is definitely a reality.
He didn’t come to start a religion, but He came to invite us into a relationship with the trinity; a relationship that the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit have shared for all eternity. He is inviting us to share a relationship with Them.
And all we have to do is receive it and walk in it, by faith. There is no way we can earn it. None whatsoever.
Can you imagine?
On that third day after they killed Him, He rose from the tomb.
Because He yearns for us to live in the reality of His presence every moment of every day!
He brought His power, His life, Himself, right into our very lives for eternity!
As His people now, we are to not only embrace the resurrection in all of its glory, but the relationship reality of that fact, as well.
He is no longer just with us…He is IN us!!
Because He paid the price!! I am His forever!! You are His forever!!
He is alive–no longer just with his followers, but in them.
Gal 4:19 “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you–“
What a powerful image! The risen Christ wants to take shape in you. Think of that! What could describe our life in Him any better? Not only is it a joyful hope, but it also shows us how incapable we are of doing it ourselves
“Remain in Me” He said.
The last thing Jesus told his followers was remain, or abide in Him, and to love each other.
He didn’t want His precious body to think abiding in Him was a rule to be observed or a tradition we were bound to.
Think of this; He had just lived with those disciples for 3 years or more, in real every day journeys and trials; camping, hiking everywhere, eating, laughing, and sharing His life with them. And He wanted to continue that same relationship with them after His resurrection . Probably, if they knew who He really was at that time, they wouldn’t have been so free to be themselves.
In all of His personality, laughter, loving looks, deep conversations, and challenging conversations, He loved interacting with His people!
But He knew it wouldn’t be easy.
Because how do we stay aware of that which we cannot see?
That is the challenge isn’t it?
He left us with faith to believe, even when we can’t see Him anymore in the natural.
But, oh friend, He is there…allow your spirit to stretch out there and touch Him and you will not only know He is there, but you will feel Him there.
Developing a relationship with Him whom we cannot see and learning to live in that all powerful-awesome life when everything about that life distracts us from truly knowing Him, seems impossible?
Though we find comfort in doing the things we think God expects of us, we may have no idea how to cultivate our relationship with Him.
The sad truth is most of us have had far more training in religion than we have had in relationship with Jesus.
How do I rest in the security of Jesus’ love, even though I still fall short of my own expectations?
How can I be aware of his presence with me all the time, and not just when I’m afraid or in need?
How do I identify Jesus’ voice when He speaks and how can I know what He’s doing in my life through the circumstance I’m caught in?
How can I really draw on his power and not just give it my best effort?
Those are relational questions, not religious questions.
But to learn how to live out a real friendship with Jesus every day of our lives takes determination and perseverance. Do not give up. It is there. Do you want it?
Without that relationship, Jesus warned us, we would not be able to do anything that would be fruitful for his work in us or those around us.
Building a relationship with Jesus means spending time cultivating my awareness of his presence and submitting my heart to his will and purpose in me.
It’s a friendship.
The disciples walked with Him every day. They knew his laughter and rebukes, argued with Him and listened to his wisdom, called to Him in their fears and shook their heads when his words confused them. They grew to know God as a friend.
Yes, it is a little harder for us because we can’t see Him. But one day we will. Jesus told Thomas in the book of John:
“Because you have seen me, you have believed;blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Jesus wants no less for you. He can take you right where you are and lead you into that friendship that can fill every day with his presence.
You will find yourself engaging in conversation with Him that runs through your entire life. He will show you things you would easily miss and teach you how to love people around you like He has loved us.
He has been building friendships with people since the world began and is wonderfully good at it. It may be a struggle at times, but learning how to cultivate that relationship is the greatest joy of being a believer in Him.
Now I know that there is a not a moment of my life that Jesus is not there, completely aware of everything going on around me and at work to lead me to the fullness of His life. Even where I struggle, I have no pangs of shame, because only He can change me–and He is well on the way to doing that!