I remember how I used to go running on a track in the southern New Jersey countryside near my mom’s house. I always found peace out in nature because it was too beautiful for me to understand. I would run mostly to relieve stress. Trust me, I had plenty of it in my life back then. I was plagued with eating disorders, self hatred, severe anxiety, and depression. I was so tormented, that after work I would turn all the lights off in the house and go to sleep early to escape reality.
One day as I was finishing my third lap, I all of a sudden felt something strangely familiar. It struck a deep place in my heart and memory that I had long forgotten, it felt like the substance of hope. If you could bump into Hope and touch it and know it to be as real as the ground you were standing on, that is what it felt like. It took me back to countless childhood memories of attending worship services and prayer meetings. I had asked my big sister back then,
“Sarah what is that feeling you get at church during the worship service? It’s like the atmosphere changes or something?”
I remember trying to describe it and put it in to words, but no matter what I said it always fell very short of fully capturing it. But I tried nonetheless,
“It’s like eating fresh warm chocolate chip cookies and drinking a glass of cold milk (my favorite thing at the time). It’s like that feeling you get, after being away for a while, when you finally come home.”
My sister laughed at my description and lovingly had told me that the presence I felt was the Holy Spirit. That day out on the track, I looked up at the birds in the sky and the beautiful tall oak trees and cried out loud,
“What do you want? Can’t you see my life is a disaster? I have seriously messed everything up. There is no hope for me. I don’t know how to follow you.”
I knew the presence I felt was the Lord and that he was there with me. Later on, I would be driving home from work or coming back from the city and his presence would fill my car. I would start crying every time and say something along the lines of,
“I want to follow you but I can’t. I don’t know how and it’s too hard. I’m so full of sin, please get away from me. You don’t really want me.”
It’s memories like these that remind me that,
“while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Ro 5:8).”
He loved me and chased me down with his love when I did not know how to love him back.
For it is by grace you have been saved,
through faith-and this not from yourselves,
it is a gift from God-not by works, so that no one can boast. – Eph 2:8-9
After Jesus miraculously fed the crowds they had asked him the same question I find myself asking him all the time,
“We want to perform God’s works too. What should we do?”
Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you
Believe in the one he has sent”-John 6:28-29
Can our righteousness really be found in simply believing in Jesus?
“This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus”
-“Nothing But the Blood”, Robert Lowry 1876
What great news, that Jesus IS our righteousness!
Oh Father, may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world! -Gal 6:14
Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life -Psalm 23:6