When a Phrase Changes Everything

Walking into the light in St Pierre

Has your life ever been changed by a single word? Maybe a phrase or idea? It could have been something that someone said to you or maybe something that seemed to just pop in your head. Well something like this happened to me last year. The phrase that changed my life is this: Just be with me.

Just be with me.

What a passive phrase, am I right? So unproductive. So un-American. So boring. But this small and quiet string of words changed my life. Let me try to provide a little bit of context.

Around the fall of last year I was a “Pro-Freshman”. At least that’s what my roommates and I liked to call ourselves, mostly in jest when we did something only a freshman would do (drop a full tray of food, watch the entire Harry Potter series in less than a week etc.). It was a good way to laugh off our “coming of age”. But back then I truly felt inadequate. I felt like a child among adults, a social novice among seasoned veterans, a boy with no direction among men driven passionately to their next goal. It was both intimidating and disheartening. So naturally I blabbed to God about it.

I remember storming out of a worship service once because all I could focus on was what the people a friendly scooch over were thinking about me. I rushed out and walked to a secluded part of campus where I released everything to the listening stars. All the tiredness of being awkward, of having no purpose, of throwing my self-worth on to the eyes of anyone walking by. There were other incidents like this; some were filled with anger but most of them were filled with nothing, I had simply become numb and didn’t know what to feel. I felt like I had nothing left to say to God, that I had come to Him enough and I had heard less than enough from him. Now this wasn’t twenty-four seven but it did occur enough to make me consider transferring. But then the winds picked up a little. It wasn’t an earthquake, or smashing boulders, or a pillar of fire, but it was something.

November 6, 2013

Are you being with Christ because you don’t want to mess up or because you just want to be with Him?

This is where it started, this is when He told me, “Just be with me”. I began to hear it everywhere; chapel speakers, my mentor, sermons, my new (really cute) running buddy, books. Just be with me. Slowly and delicately He started flushing out the idea that I needed to “make it happen”, that I had to maintain an image or build a future for myself in order to have purpose and be loved. And that’s what we’re all striving for, right? Purpose and love? To know that the next seconds of our lives matter not only to ourselves but to someone else?

Just be with me.

Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.”

 – 1 John 2:28

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

– Jesus (Matthew 11:28)

                We’re running around, throwing our value on people, worrying about anything and everything that could go wrong, struggling to make ourselves look put together, desperately trying to find worth in money, relationships, grades, anything that people vote on as important! It really is just exhausting, isn’t it? This productive, exciting, American culture we live in is just exhausting. And I think we all need some rest. Well, I know I do.

Now I’m not trying to advocate sitting on the couch and just “hangin’ with Jesus” for the rest of your life. But what I have found is that the more aware I am of God-with-us, whether in class or at camp or sitting in my dorm, the more I acknowledge and engage Him, the more peace I feel in my soul. It doesn’t last forever but the more I am with God, the more I realize that I have purpose and I am loved. He gave me purpose. He loved me first. We’ve always had purpose and have always been loved; we just have to be with Him so He can tell us all about where it comes from.

Just be with me.

                The story that God has been telling since before time overwhelmingly points to one thing. It’s not like the stories we see from Hollywood. It’s not flashy or gaudy or bedazzled. It doesn’t require heroic strength or superhuman willpower. It’s simple and quiet and slow. It’s about presence, His presence, in our every day, hour, and moment.

Just be with Him

God with us.

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