Dependency. The notion in our culture portrays weakness. Like a parent that puts a child as their “dependent” on their tax form. Or the elderly man or woman who is put in a nursing home, or has a caretaker. We cherish our independence as people. We want to live our lives as we see fit. Make the choices we want to make. We don’t want anyone to tell us what to do. We are prideful people that rarely submit. We scoff at the idea that strong or put together people need anyone or anything. The reality is though that we do. We need Jesus. Even those of us that have it all together.
I remember before Jesus saved my life seven years ago, I was a mess. I was depressed. Angry. Obsessed. Numbed out. Selfish. Not well spoken. Unfocused. And on and on I could go. I was in one word, weak.
I remember doing a public speaking presentation in front of my freshmen class in college. I was supposed to get up and do a presentation on how to play tennis. As I stood behind the podium, I remember my knees shook, my lips quivered, my eyes teared up, and my words stumbled. I hated public speaking.
Things changed on January 6th, 2012 when Jesus showed up and changed my life. He showed me who I truly was. He restored me. He brought me hope and peace and life. He broke down the walls that were around my heart. He healed me.
Along with that healing, he gave me opportunities. Opportunities to share with those around me what Jesus had done in my life. Lots and lots of opportunities with many people.
Over the last seven years, Jesus has taken me from a person that was nervous, shy, not good with people, not well spoken, not confident, to someone who is completely different.
I now have an undergraduate in Christian Studies from North Greenville University. I have completed six graduate level classes with a 3.7 GPA from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville Kentucky. I have led small groups. I have taught many lessons. I have preached sermons in front of hundreds of people. I have discipled many people. I have led people to Christ. I was a youth pastor. I was a youth ministry intern at one of the biggest churches in my area. I’ve been on countless mission trips. I have had great success in my jobs, been promoted, and been the best at most of what I have attempted. I have accomplished a lot. I have an impressive resume so to speak. I now talk to hundreds of people daily as an admissions counselor for a major university. I have come a long way.
And that’s been my problem.
Uneducated, unhappy, unproven baby Christian Joseph understood his need for Jesus. Really though up until recently I had forgotten that all I am now, all I have accomplished, the man that I have become, was all due to Jesus.
I didn’t pull myself up by my boot straps to get to where I am. I clung to Jesus. I depended on Him. Once I got educated, well spoken, good with people, I didn’t depend on Jesus anymore like I once did. I didn’t cling to Scriptures, or worship Him like He deserved, because I was “good” now. I didn’t need Jesus anymore because He had fixed my problems, He had restored me, and now ministry was my god, my skills brought about arrogance, and I didn’t even recognize the sins that were standing at my door ready to devour me.
The last couple years have been extremely humbling. I have fallen from great heights. I am no longer in vocational ministry. I am no longer teaching and speaking to hundreds of people each week about Jesus. It’s been frustrating, angering, and it has brought up so much from my past. It has brought up many insecurities, fears, and I have felt the losses heavily.
This season has been exactly what I’ve needed though. To be reminded that I didn’t get here on my own, that I was brought here by Jesus. To realize that even now, even as I’ve been equipped, and trained, and skilled, that I am still in great need of Jesus. I am dependent on Him. I am desperate for Him. To change me. To lead me. To guide me. Because I’ve seen what life can be when I’m left up to my own devices and my own plans.
These last two years have taught me and are teaching me that without Jesus, we are all weak. He is the one that makes us strong. He is the one who gives us joy. He is the one who skills us and gifts us. I am nothing without Him. And I am realizing this more and more and more each and every day.
I love how the Apostle Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 11:30.
“If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”
This verse comes right after Paul calls out those who would prop themselves up on their accolades and good works. He bluntly states that He has more accomplishments and has suffered more for the Gospel than they have or probably ever will.
These accomplishments though are not what he boasts in. Even though, Paul had accomplished a lot and led many and discipled many, he did not boast in this. He boasted in Christ because he knew that outside of Christ, none of these things were possible.
So I today boast not in my education, my well spokenness, my confidence, my people skills, my teaching ability, my resume, my accomplishments, or my stories. I recognize that outside of Christ, I have none of these things, and so my joy, and my life, they don’t come from what I can or can’t do. They come from being known and loved by Jesus. It comes from knowing that everyday, even as this skilled and well known person that I am, that I still desperately need Jesus, and will always need Him.
Today, whether you are weak, or whether you are strong and put together, I pray that like myself you will see that you are in desperate need of Jesus. That He is the only one who can hold you and love you and keep you together. He is the only one you can depend on in this life and the next.
Let us all today recognize with joy our need for Jesus and may we cling to Him more and more each and every day as He completes the work in our lives that He has begun.