Jesus With Skin On, by Judi Wright
“Healthy people can identify their problems, fears, struggles and issues and they can articulate their plan to resolve them.” M. Dye, author of The Genesis Process.
January 1 gets us yearning for new, better, cleaner, clearer, healthier, better spiritual discipline, closer relationships, or a fresh start in some area of life. Plans and lists seem so promising when January starts…lists too long to stick with for more than a few weeks or months. What makes the difference between a life that actually moves forward in positive, life enhancing ways and one that flounders in the slough of despond?
Real change occurs when one person, motivated by the love of Jesus, invests their life into the life of another. Together, they walk toward health and wholeness. Where does that happen in our society? It is in and through the church.
It is the church that encourages us to love the hurting and the broken, those different than our own small circle of “comfortable” friends and family. For nearly half my life I have been a believer. The first half, the longer half, was lived in fits of hope alternating with deep pits of despair as I tried to make my own way work. It was all an exercise in futility until Jesus became a reality to me. Twenty-plus years ago I came to a church divorced and newly remarried, scared, hurting and lonely with a plastic smile and a secret desire to be loved and accepted as I walked out my new faith. I am choked up thinking about those dear women who embraced me, invited me to join them over and over and generally accepted me just as I was. They were on their own journeys with Jesus and they pulled me in tight and invited me to learn and grow with them. The love of Jesus they showed me helped me to stop striving in all the wrong ways of personal effort. I see that love of Jesus in the faces I am meeting at EHA and The Grove. Thank you, each of you, for embracing me as I come once again to a new place of healing and hope for me.
My challenge to you at this time of fresh starts is this: Can you identify what you are struggling with? If so, can you articulate your plan to resolve those things? If your plan does not involve reaching out in love to someone else and asking them to walk alongside you then I am afraid you are in for a disappointment. God created us for relationship with Him and with others. We need each other to carry out our plans and to support each other. Without other believers we are likely to become self-focused and discouraged by our inevitable failures along the way.
Perhaps your life seems pretty good to you right now. If so, halleluiah, the Lord has great plans for you! You are ready to reach out in love to someone like me, someone who may be scared, hurting, needy and lonely. That person, the one you are seeing in your mind’s eye right now, needs YOU. Pray about how you can reach out in love to them. Help them by including them in your journey with Jesus. You will be blessed more than the blessing you are offering to them. And they will know the true love of Jesus as you offer them a little Jesus with skin on: YOU.
Your sister in Christ, Judi Wright