“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
– Matthew 28:20
EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE, I sense a certain utter uselessness in myself. A pitiful helplessness creeps into my mind and pushes any sense of giftedness and confidence aside. It is not a pleasant experience. And crawling into bed with the covers over my head seems like the only sane solution to this overwhelming problem. Sometimes this sensation comes after I have done something foolish or sinful. Other times, it comes for no particular reason other than to torment me for waking up.
Over the years, I have dealt with this feeling differently. When I was younger, I can remember trying to force myself to “snap out of it!” That approach was about as successful as a madman telling a tornado to “stop spinning!” Later, I tried to spiritualize the problem by saying that my feeling helpless or useless was simply spiritual warfare. That invariably would lead to me trying to convince myself of my overall worthiness and goodness. The failure of that approach was that my mind had a hard time believing in an obvious lie.
Then something wonderful happened! Contrary to the false optimism of hundreds of self-help books proclaiming my overall wellbeing and innate ability, I realized that I am, in fact, quite useless and that the only reason that I have any “use” is because God has imbibed me with the ability to be useful. I am, despite my best attempts to fake it, not lovable, wholly selfish, and most definitely useless. But, God is not. And therein lies my, and our, salvation.
With God at my side, I am possibly lovable. With God at my side, I can think of others before myself. With God at my side, my life has now turned from despair and fear to meaning and hope.
Although physical decay will always work to weaken my body, Jesus has saved me from the spiritual illness that seeks to rob me of a fruitful life. And as long as I remain connected to that source of grace and hope, there can be tremendous joy in this journey.
For me, an adventure is an entirely useless activity if there is no one who will go through it together with me. To whom will I point out the new seashell? Who will marvel with me at the crimson sky? But, with Jesus beside me, the adventure becomes a shared experience. And the rocky path and confusing trail is now navigated by the expert Guide. Where this adventure leads is not always expected, and sometimes frightening. But that is the meaning of an adventure. It also seems to me that how this adventure begins, unfolds, and ends on this earth is only a minor question. Who goes along with me seems vastly more important.
When choosing a guide for a dangerous trip, it’s important to find one who has marked out the way beforehand. Jesus has traversed the hidden path from death to life, and he knows of the narrow trail back to the Father. I will, therefore, follow him.
Now when I feel paralyzed and pull the sheets over my head, Jesus gently pulls off the covers and say, “Get up silly child! An adventure is awaiting! And I shall be with you… always!”