It wasn't a number; an overwhelming statistic rattled off with great emotion, a sense of urgency mixed with a touch of despair.
It wasn't a face; worn by the deep cares of this life, marked by sufferings I may go my whole lifetime and know nothing about.
It wasn't a book; an author that scared me into Kingdom living.
It wasn't a conference, a mission trip, or weekend retreat; it wasn't a song, a sermon, or a prayer.
It was Jesus; the One who, in the middle of a routine praise band rehearsal, whispered “Surely there's more to my Kingdom than this”.
It was Jesus; the One who said “Come away with me and be awed by my beauty, by my power to save.”
It was Jesus; the One who knew the mess that I am, that there is no good in me, yet said“Give me the pen. All those gaps and broken places in your story? I will redeem. I will reconcile. I will make beauty from ashes”.
It was Jesus; who stripped all of those other things away so I could learn what it meant to know Him and not just know about Him; so I could feel the weight of the decision to pick up my cross and follow fully or not at all; so I could know joy and not just temporary satisfaction.
It was Jesus. And it still is. And now it is by Him that I see all of those other things: the overwhelming statistics, the weary faces, the books by brothers and sisters who challenge me to keep walking a narrow way, the conferences, the retreats, the mission trips, the songs, the sermons, the prayers.
He is not “The one who modifies my behavior and makes me morally acceptable to my culture”
He is not “The one who overwhelms me with statistics and guilt until I become disillusioned in humanitarian relief efforts”
He is not “The one who scares me into His Kingdom”.
He is Wonderful, Counselor, the The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, the Reconciler, Holy, Beautiful, Merciful, Just, Redeemer, Emmanuel.
God with us, revealed to us.
So we can see. And by Him, we now see everything else.
“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, so that, as it is written,
“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
[1 Corinthians 1:26-30]