I never thought it would be Jesus.
In September 2020 my daughter got sick, and was running a very high fever for 3 days in a row. What made it more frightening was that I’d had a premonition, an intuition, a voice from my gut, a few days before she got sick that said something was going to happen to her.
When she came down with a very high fever out of the blue I was concerned, after the third day in a row I was scared. On the third night with a high fever I couldn’t sleep, and I was laying awake in the middle of the night, flooded with worries about her.
Over the past few years I’d been trying to come to a better understanding of God. I’d picked up a bunch of different spiritual practices, meditations, mantras, crystals, disciplines and incantations along the way. They were pulled from all kinds of different spiritual traditions and religions. Their purpose was to help me understand and get closer to God.
As I laid awake worrying about my daughter, I cycled through each of those different practices in my heart, hoping they would bring me some kind of peace or understanding. One after the other they not only failed, but they made me feel more confused, scared and desperate.
That is when I had the most significant experience of my life.
In one moment I felt Jesus come in to my heart. I can’t explain it in any other way. One moment he was not there, the next he was there. He announced himself, 'This is Jesus,' a warmth spread into my chest, and I felt every cloud of fear and confusion scatter instantly. In their place was clarity, peace and hope, and a presence I could only describe like my best friend that knew everything about me and loved me completely was now resting inside of my chest, breathing each breath with me, looking through my eyes with me, filling me with absolute certainty that I was loved tremendously in spite of all of my flaws.
I didn’t ask him to come. I didn’t call on him. I didn’t invite him. I wasn’t looking for him. I never thought it would be Jesus. But there he was. In that one moment of surrender when i realized I was NOT in control, he was finally able to come in.
As I’m writing this I can feel how my old self would read this. The name of Jesus, the idea of Jesus, the story of Jesus, comes with SO much baggage and context from the world. There’s an inherit cheesiness that surrounds the whole idea of him, and believing in him, that’s been seeded into the soil of our culture.
If I’m being honest the reason I never thought it would be Jesus is it all felt ridiculous, outdated, misinterpreted. Jesus to me was one more wise teacher to read some of their words with respect and disregard whatever didn’t fit into my worldview. Maybe he never even lived, and his story was cobbled together from other stories and modeled off of other world myths.
Then there was the disgust and anger I felt towards the church from growing up in the Catholic church and watching all of the systemic pedophilia in the church be exposed. Even knowing personally a priest that I liked and respected, who officiated my wedding, and was later defrocked for sexual misconduct with a minor. I had a lot of baggage that I was not ready to let go of without a fight.
But in one moment all of my doubt and resistance was gone. And what I realized, and what made me cry, and makes me cry now, was that I am loved absolutely, unconditionally, and there is not a single thing I’ve done in my life that earned that love for me.
Nothing I did, nothing I said, nothing I thought, made me worthy of that love. And on the other side of the coin, no bad that I ever did, said or thought could ever take it away. It was a gift. Absolutely free.
Letting go of that weight of thinking I’d need to be perfect for the rest of my life to know God was the greatest relief I have ever felt. I don’t have any concrete rational answers to logically disprove my doubts. But I know Jesus is real. I know that he is living in my heart. I know that he is perfect goodness. I know that he is God. Each day I’m learning a little bit more about him, and I am so grateful to those who have been disciples to me as I learn.
Over the next few days my daughter’s fever gradually came down and she got better. And each morning since then I wake up knowing that Jesus is in my heart, and I am so grateful I could cry. And each day I feel his kingdom creeping in around me, and feels the walls between heaven and earth get thinner as his light shines in.
I share this to thank him for choosing to die for me, even though all I ever did was reject him, mock him and run from him. And to praise him for his faithfulness, kindness and mercy.