Me: Jesus, can we talk?
Jesus: Sure. You know I'm always here for you.
Me: Would it be okay with you if I cut back on my time in prayer. I have so much going on right now. I mean, you understand, right?
Jesus: So, what you're saying is that you are really overwhelmed with life's demands right now?
Me: Yes. See, you understand me.
Jesus: I do, but you don't understand Me.
Me: Why would you say that?
Jesus: Because you somehow have missed it that without me you can do nothing. If you understood me then you would think of me first because you would know that I might have a thing or two to say to you regarding your life.
Me: I know.. I know.
Jesus: No, actually you don't.
Me: Yes I do... the whole, "pray without ceasing" thing Paul talked about.
Jesus: Paul understood Me. He did so much, but everything he did was what I asked him to do.
Me: Everything? Seriously.
Jesus: Yes, everything... seriously.
Me: How is that possible?
Jesus: Because we talked every day, all day. He knew I had so much to say to him and he learned to trust me like I want you to trust me. Paul didn't work at doing things for Me, and he didn't hide anything from me, nor did he try to do anything without Me.
Me: That's a pretty tall expectation. How am I supposed to have time and energy to do all of that?
Jesus: There you go again ... you don't understand Me.
Me: (insert puzzled and frustrated facial expression here)
Jesus: Have you not learned that it's not about what you do for Me, but rather what I can do through you?
Me: But You gave us all a will... I have to make choices, decisions, and I'm held accountable to those aren't I?
Jesus: Yes, you are.
Me: So how can I live up to such high expectations. Obey your teaching, spend time I don't have in prayer. Read a Bible I don't always understand. Try to do good to everyone. Hold my tongue around the people who annoy me...
Jesus: Please just stop and listen for a moment.
Jesus: I have only one expectation of you, and if you can find your way to meet that one expectation, then everything else springs up from that.
Me: What is it?
Me: What is that supposed to mean?
Jesus: Just what I said, ... die. You know, if anyone would come after me they should take up their cross and follow me. ... Die.
Me: Can we drop the metaphors and just speak English for a moment?
Jesus: It's not that hard to understand.
Me: Then I must be really dense.
Jesus: You're not dense, you just need to change your perspective and look at things differently. I died for you ... will you die for Me?
Jesus: You keep trying and trying in this life to be something for Me, or to do things to gain approval or live up to standards, but none of that is what I desire. What I want from you is you. If you would let Me in, I'd guide you. I will give you rest. I will speak to you. I will purify you. I will give you power you don't have, wisdom you don't have, strength you don't have, and guidance you won't get anywhere else. But the one expectation is that first, you will die... to yourself.
Me: (after a long pause) That sounds hard.
Jesus: Harder than what you have now? My burden is light.
Me: All I wanted was an answer to a simple question... if I could cut back on prayer. Was that too much to ask?
Jesus: Yes, it was. If you knew Me and you knew the power of prayer you would pray...
Jesus: Finally, you're beginning to understand.
Me: Die, huh?
Jesus: Yes ... die.
Me: I've never been able to trust anyone but myself. Everyone lets me down.
Jesus: I'm not one of those people. I've got this ... I've got you.
Jesus: I'm glad we talked. I'm always here for you. I died for you that you might live.
Me: Okay... I'm in. I trust You.
Jesus: I have plans for you that you would have never imagined for yourself. Paul's life was a great adventure because He listened to Me and went where I told him to go. And when he got to every new place, he learned to trust Me to show up and give Him power and strength.
Me: Sounds like an amazing adventure.
Jesus: It was. Yours is pretty amazing too.
Me: So... tell me all about it!
Jesus: No. You couldn't handle the whole picture right now. What do you say we talk all day, every day, and I'll take the lead.
Me: Pray? ...
Jesus: Still interested in cutting back on your prayer time?
Me: Um ... no.
Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.
(Luke 9:23-24 NIV)
Brett Heintzman is passionate about the spiritual formation of God's people. These writings are designed to draw us close to God and to help us live out of the riches of His presence. It's all about being in the world but not of the world.