By Lauren Wortman
I must admit, I used to think of Jesus as an alien. Come on, Jesus does some weird things. Like that time he killed the fig tree to make a point about having faith, or when he cried at the death of a friend only to turn around and bring him back to life. I heard these stories about Jesus, and it seemed to me that he was trying his best to seem human and failing miserably. He couldn’t know anything about me, he wasn’t like me, and I didn’t want to be like him.
I have had some experiences with God, though. The night my now husband proposed to me, I truly didn’t know how to respond. I thought, “This is a big decision. What if I make the wrong choice?! On the other hand, maybe I’ll never get a better offer…I don’t know what to do!” I heard God in that moment. Not audibly, of course, but in my heart I heard his voice. He said, “This is the man I created for you.” Those were His exact words. I’ll never forget it. I said “yes” and nothing in this world has made me happier or brought me more blessings. Not even close.
I have trusted God, and tried to make him proud, since I was a child. I didn’t get to know Jesus until I came to First Baptist Church. We had tried several other churches in the area. We stayed with FBC because of the Sunday School class for young married couples. Here was a group of people we could certainly identify with, and it made it much easier to find a home in the church. We’ve been part of the FBC family for 6 years now. I love that we get parenting advice every week. We have needed it! I love that we decide as a group what we’re going to study based on our spiritual needs. I enjoyed reading and discussing the book Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray. Some of my favorite prayers and quiet moments came from the Murray’s words. I think of the various Love Languages nearly every day when I have to make the tough choice to be loving toward irritating people. And some of the truest miracles I’ve experienced in my adult life have come as a result of the challenges of Randy Alcorn’s Treasure Principle.
The most powerful by far, however, has been our study of the Gospel of Mark. No one rolled their eyes or laughed when I confessed my feelings about Jesus the Alien. Well, maybe they laughed, but they did so lovingly. I got to know the Son of God by reading Mark and bringing my questions to a group of people who love me. Instead of having an answer for everything, as though they had never had doubts or questions themselves, this group understood my concerns and shared the journey with me. It took us months to get through the book of Mark, because we read it verse by verse very slowly, picking through every detail. It was awesome! We weren’t rushed or deterred by delays. We just let God speak to us. Mark showed me the patience and love of Jesus. His disciples were as stubborn and ignorant as I am, and Jesus just puts his arms around them and loves them anyway. I began to know a Jesus who cries in response to our anguish and loss because we are his beloved friends. A Jesus who was afraid of going to the cross, but he did it anyway because it was God’s perfect will. And a Jesus who prayed over the welfare of his friends and family whom he knew would be lost for a time after he was gone.
It turns out that Jesus does know me. He knows I have much to learn and a long way to go, but he calls me sister, and he reminds me that the Father is proud of me simply because I am His child. The joy of being so loved takes my breath away. I see so many unhappy people – people trying desperately to prove themselves, just like I was. My heart aches for them because I know that joy beyond imagining is just within their reach. One of my spiritual goals for 2017 (which promises to be a significant year for the Wortman family) is to do some witnessing. How many despairing lives can one joyful heart turn around?