My allergies have hit and hit hard this week. Last Sunday my voice was weak in the morning and even worse that night. But the result was that I spent both services we had listening from the audience, instead of focusing on the worship set. The sermon that morning was so amazing for me. Pastor Joe (Papa somehow doesn't seem respectful enough when I'm talking about him as my pastor, lol) told the story of Elijah killing all Jezebel's priests and running to cave to hide when she promised to kill him. God came to him and spoke to Elijah in the gentle whisper, and asked "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
The mental image I have of this makes me want to cry right now.
So often - more than I would ever want to admit - I forget how much God loves me. Not that I could ever fully grasp it, but it's so comfortable for me to try to earn God's love and affection. For a long time I thought that if I didn't have a knot in my stomach because I felt guilty, it was only because I hadn't remembered what I had done wrong. I somehow taught myself to always be worried because someone was mad, was going to be mad, or God didn't like me and I had to fix something. I noticed that I've been doing that again, with God. When I find myself happy and at peace, I then wrack my brain for what I've got to feel bad about. How crazy is that? But listening to the sermon this Sunday, I immediately pictured myself in a cave, with my back to the light. I pictured myself standing there, crying, because I couldn't find my way out to God. I want to be close to him so much, and I was so sad because I was sure he wouldn't come close because I had done something, or was doing something wrong, and I didn't know what. So I couldn't fix it.
And then I pictured Jesus standing right behind me, saying in the most gentle voice, "What are you doing here, Jessie?"
Why are you beating yourself up?
Why are you trapping yourself in this despair?
Why are you telling yourself you are not enough?
Don't you know I've always loved you?
And just like that, I'm broken.
I am free. I am loved. I do not have to be good enough. I know that I never could be. But Jesus loves me, God loves me. The lightness, the freedom that comes from that is so much better than any feeling there is.
This will not be the last time I struggle with this. But I pray that God will draw closer and closer to me, and that I will fall deeper and deeper in love with him. I have come too far with him to ever experience anything other than complete misery were I to turn back or try to earn his love. I hope you've found the same freedom with him. Any other existence is not enough. He loves you.