What do you do when all your hopes and dreams die slowly in front of your eyes?
I was making a decent living and surrounded by people I loved. I wasn’t looking for change…but sometimes change finds you.
Secretly, I knew I needed that change. An ache of insecurity followed me everywhere I went. Maybe you’ve felt it too. That persistent voice inside your head that demands attention, like a hungry dog begging for food. “You’ll never be loved for who you are”. “You’ll never be as gifted as the people around you”.
I wanted that nagging voice to go away. I wanted a life of purpose and peace. That’s why the words, “follow me” were so captivating. They weren’t simply an offer to switch my vocation. Those three syllables were an invitation to a life filled with hope.
Listening to Jesus teach made me feel like I was experiencing a beautiful piece of music or like I had just eaten one of the best meals of my life. You know, that odd state of being completely full but still wanting more. Yet, it wasn’t his eloquence that changed me.
He displayed unrivaled power. The first time I saw it was when he turned stagnant water into wine that any sommelier would envy. Over time, I saw him heal more desperate people than I could possibly count. He walked across water, calmed storms and raised people from the dead. I was left speechless by his actions but it wasn’t his power alone that altered my life.
No, my insecurity began to melt away because he had the ability to look me straight in the eye and let me know that I was accepted and loved for who I was. I began to see myself as someone “Who Jesus loved”. It gave me such confidence that I thought I could call down fire from heaven. Jesus responded to that by chuckling and giving me a new nickname, “son of thunder”. There aren’t many people who can walk the line of laughing at your foolishness while still showing you love, but he could.
Some people responded humbly to his uncompromising honesty. Others got angry, so irate in fact that they decided to kill him. Even one of my close friends decided to betray him.
This led to a hasty trial and false accusations. In the blink of an eye, the person I had placed all my hopes and dreams in was being mercilessly beaten, verbally abused and nailed to a cross.
I had a front row seat to the entire scene. I witnessed my dreams fly away with every lash of the whip, insult and scream of pain. The security I previously felt, evaporated like dew on a hot summer morning.
No one else stayed with him except for his mother, a small group of women and myself. I stood next to his mom the entire time. Jesus was disfigured so badly that even she couldn’t recognize him. The sound of her wailing was inhuman, an outward sign of the depth of her suffering.
In the midst of his pain he looked at me one last time and told me that his mother was my mother now. He looked at his mom and introduced me to her as her new son. It was typical Jesus. Even in the midst of excruciating pain, he was showing us how to love.
It wasn’t long before he breathed his last.
I hugged my new mom for what seemed like an eternity as we both sobbed uncontrollably.
Eventually, she managed to get out the words, “John, what do we do now?”
I desperately rummaged through my cluttered mind for answers but I came up empty.
“I don’t know mom, but we will get through this together.”
We were two different generations, genders and backgrounds but we shared a deep bond…our dreams had died right before our eyes.
In the midst of our sorrow and confusion we clung to each other and the example he gave us. We didn’t know much else but we knew that Jesus loved us. Somehow, that was enough for now.