Do you ever get those brief moments that remind you of what is truly important? It could come in the form of wise advice from a friend, or a book you are reading, or merely a moment when you are on your own enjoying some solitude and a thought comes into your mind.
I had one of these beautiful moments this past weekend. The day started like any other, but then I stumbled across a simple, yet touching picture.
The picture shows a stick man holding his heart in his hands and offering it to Jesus, saying,"It's all I have" in a way that suggests he's ashamed of his gift and embarrassed he can't offer more. The world probably taught him that his worth was found in his abilities, his wealth, his intellect, or his looks, rather than in his loving heart.
As strange as it might be to say, I found myself relating to that little stick man...
What the world says and what Jesus says...
I want to understand everything about faith because I believe it to the core of my being and want to share the joy of the gospel message with as many people as I can. The difficulty is that I can get caught up in feeling like, no matter what I do, I am unworthy of the love of Christ.
The world has taught me, "I am only loved if...". It is very easy to take this lesson the world teaches and apply it to my relationship with Christ. The danger of this mentality is it is unequivocally FALSE!
Jesus responds to the offer of the stick figure's heart with four simple words: "It's all I want." Those words hit me unexpectedly and, I'll even admit, brought tears to my eyes. It was one of those brief moments that reminded me of the profound love of Jesus. Theology is essential, and I love it, but the point of theology is to know God better, and that starts with knowing His great love for us.
Analytical and Experiential Knowledge
If you listened to our podcast in Season one, you might remember in Episode 29 when we discussed Lewis compares experiencing the Atlantic Ocean through a map and also by standing on the beach:
"…if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turning from something real to something less real: turning from real waves to a bit of coloured paper" - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Book IV, Chapter 1)
It might seem like experiencing the Ocean from the beach is superior. However, Lewis points out that the map is also important:
"…is based on what hundreds and thousands of people have found out by sailing the real Atlantic… masses of experience just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only, while yours would be a single isolated glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together." - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Book IV, Chapter 1)
Lewis explains that both the map and the personal experience have a role to play. In the same way, theological formulations and personal experience of God have a place in the life of the believer.
I know I personally I have to be careful not to get caught up in my head, and be sure to take the theology I love into my heart. Theology is important, but it can't replace the personal one-on-one encounters. It is meant to guide us in those experiences and not a replacement. The little stick man reminded me of this.
I'd like to leave you with a few sentences from a moving letter written by Mother Teresa to the sisters of her community:
"Jesus wants me to tell you again, especially in this Holy Week, how much love He has for each one of you—beyond all you can imagine. I worry some of you still have not really met Jesus—one to one—you and Jesus alone. We may spend time in chapel—but have you seen with the eyes of your soul how He looks at you with love?" - St. Teresa of Calcutta, "I thirst, I quench"