Why I Still Follow Jesus

forsythia in glass vase
Photo by Amanda B. Johnson

Average read time: 6 minutes.

When I was fifteen years old, my teen Bible with the terrible binding started falling apart—coincidentally or not, it was right after the time my family started doing the same.

I read that book so much that the pages started separating from the spine and the heaviness of the paper caused the textbook-sized tome to bend and sway when closed and carried.

Some cynics could say I was grasping for hope in that difficult season like any other child would and that I grabbed on to the nearest, most widely accepted, and most readily available philosophies and theologies in my tiny, rural Southeast Texas town.

But for me, it was more than that.

It was about Jesus. And it was about those promises all rolled up in and recorded through His living Word.

***

Around the tender age of fourteen, some really terrible stuff started happening in my life—so much so I began to identify with Job more than any other Bible character talked about in Sunday School as a kid.

I grew up in a Christian family, but I was regularly seeing and experiencing things that didn’t look like we believed in what was being preached on Sunday mornings.

On one particular day, after a horrific and life-changing event that shook our family to the core, after all my young years of praying to and learning about the Lord, I heard Him speak to me.

Yes, me. Yes, directly.

I was standing in the silence of an upstairs half bathroom, choking back sobs, rinsing off my face in the sink, and staring into the mirror at a fourteen-year-old girl who was just forced to grow up quick in a way that no fourteen-year-olds should have to—and then He spoke.

It wasn’t an audible sound. No one else heard it, but no, I’m not crazy.

It was like an earthquake rumbling inside the space just under my ribs that resonated throughout my being. His voice had the tone of Niagara Falls and the clarity of bright, crisp autumn air.

It was sharp and sweet and big and small all at the same time, and it shook me. I stopped and listened closely as words of love, strength, and promises of redemption were poured over my fourteen-year-old heart, mind, and body.

In a half bathroom in my house in a tiny Southeast Texas town, I had experienced the tender holiness of God Himself.

***

In a world where many people use Scripture as a weapon to hurt others, prop up their own political or nationalistic ideas, gain financial control and benefits over congregations, and/or inspire themselves to live their best life or become some kind of famous motivational speaker (and, therefore, often knowingly or unknowingly damage the reputation of Christians and Jesus Himself), I’m still running after that Tender Holiness.

In our modern world, following a specific faith in Christ—especially if that faith has many concrete things to say about how you should live your life or how the world was set up to work—can seem just plain dumb. Especially when so many people have already tainted the beauty and truth of that sacred faith.

But in this day and age, I still follow Jesus because I have heard Him, known Him, and drank deep of His faithfulness.

Wounds and patterns four-generations deep have been healed and completely removed from my life.

I have seen miracles. I have been healed. I’ve prayed for physical healing in Jesus’ name for others, and they have been healed. I am still astounded by this—it’s unexplainable.

I have experienced abuse at the hands of people—Christians even—who I should’ve been able to trust, and although those things are devastating, they have not had devastating effects on my life. I cannot explain this apart from the work of Christ in me.

I have encountered His life-giving and very real presence again and again—although it has not always been in the same way as that moment when I was fourteen, it has been dear and precious to me every time.

My husband and I have been asked by the Lord to do very sacrificial things with our time, money, and careers—and sometimes these requests are pretty financially unwise in the grand scheme of things—but we’ve been met with Christ’s faithfulness and provision over and over again.

Christ has redeemed my life. He has used my terrible experiences for my good and His glory and the benefit, protection, and healing of others.

Christ has redeemed my heart. In my late teens and early twenties, I carried around a lot of angry bitterness. As I have grown in Christ, it’s easier for me to find joy, grace, and hope.

Christ has redeemed my spirit. I’ve done some terrible, unloving things and made some really stupid, hurtful decisions. Those things don’t define me or haunt me. In fact, I’m still learning, but His love has transformed the way I love others and what my heart longs for.

By His body broken and his blood shed on the cross, by His defeating of death and sin in His holy resurrection, by providing the ultimate sacrificial lamb once and for all, for all, He not only has paid for and released me from my own sin, but has also released me from the effects of sin against me.

***

My Bible fell apart as a teenager because, after I heard Christ Himself speak, I wanted to hear Him speak again. And again. And again.

What I found in the Word were countless promises that filled me with an unshakeable hope of redemption, restoration, and the faithfulness of Christ in the lives of those who suffer, mourn, or carry big burdens.

What I found in the Word was often very different than what Southern American Nationalistic Prosperity Gospel stuff was teaching me as a child. What I read for myself in the Word of God felt more solid and true, more redemptive and pure—more real.

I remember thinking as I read my falling-apart Bible, “Is this truth really for me? Is this really what God does? Does He really love me this much? Does He really heal this way? Is this who He really is? Look how much He cares about the poor! Look how much he cares about the unloved! Look how much He takes what’s broken and lovingly repairs it at its very core!”

He is still doing all those things and more.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” —Revelation 21:3–5 ESV

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! — 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

More than fifteen years later, I’m still chasing down that Voice from the half bathroom. The One that guided me through some of the darkest, most painful and confusing seasons of my life. The One who saw me make those terrible choices and get really, really hurt—or intentionally hurt someone else but forgave me still. The One who planned (and was there on) my wedding day. The One who, more recently and against all scientific odds, ignited and joined two separate cells within me to develop this whole new person I’m currently carrying.

Yes, you might think I’m crazy. Maybe I’m just hearing things. But I have seen His goodness and His glory, and I cannot live without Him now that I have known Him. I have seen Him keeping His word and redeeming and restoring right before my own eyes.

I still follow Jesus because He is still working, still speaking, still healing, still keeping His promises—and He still is good, despite this world we live in.

In fact, He’s making this world new—He’s making all things new.

And that, my friends, is trustworthy and true.

 


 

If you liked this post, you might also like:


 

You can share this image in your InstaStories! Click to download.

 

Add a little bit of body text-4

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s