When you pray asking Jesus to make you more desperate for Him…
…theoretically you shouldn’t be shocked when that’s put to the test almost instantly.
It was the first Friday of the semester, January 2017, when the world seemed alive with those new-year rich hopes. You were sitting there in a chapel row, the rhythms setting in motion something within bold enough to pray a prayer asking Jesus to make you more desperate for Him. And you wonder to yourself, do we all have any idea the implications of what we actually just prayed for?
Because deep down you know. It sounds great and it is something you need to be reminded of more often, how every heartbeat and breath is grace, how it is all about the One composing the symphony of the universe and not about your own ability. But you also have lived a lot of life in a relationship with Jesus, and you know He’s all about bringing your heart closer to Him, through both the best and the hardest of situations, and this prayer might bring about something unexpected.
That afternoon, it begins. The events of life spiral quickly beyond control and all else is stripped away. You find yourself curled in a tiny ball in the stairwell of your dorm, letting tears come out, the pain be real, while words of truth play out over your headphones. Because your heart longs to fix the brokenness for others, but that is not possible. You can simply, yet profoundly, offer presence, hope in any form. You wonder why others have to walk this journey, why it all had to collapse so quickly. But it is only the start. And so the first of countless times to come in that stairwell space, you keep repeating the song:
TAKE THE WORLD BUT GIVE ME JESUS.
This phrase come so naturally at camp, where your heart was constantly reminded just how not enough you was, how completely in need of a greater strength you constantly are. Days spent trying to let Him work in your own story, so that through it other stories may experience more of His touch in them.
But now, this phrase needs to reinvade every aspect of your life, color every view, heighten every sense. And it moves even closer to you, hitting not just friends but home.
The following Wednesday, you are still recovering from the events of the past weekend when that prayer made itself known in your life. Just sitting there, scrolling through Netflix and YouTube, aware you should attempt homework. The email notification goes off, and the alarm bells in your heart hit full blast. Something within you snaps, and you know.
A brief period of hyperventilating and overthinking later + one phone call, and the tears won’t stop coming. The words sit like a weight around your soul, trying to choke them out to a friend.
Cancer. Out of nowhere. An unexpected diagnosis. And it’s your mom, the one who’s walked you through everything with wisdom and love, who’s always a call away. Everything feels ripped out of you. And you realize, this is what it will mean to be more desperate.
The heartbeat accompanying the series sign falls in line with your own. Even as you wrestle the most with faith, you discover the depth of His character, that He is good.
And in learning to be desperate, you give up dreams along the way.
All the Poor and Powerless was playing. A mountain ring sat on your hand in reminder.
A year ago almost to the day, you sat in the usual chapel seat for a message that was anything but that. Slowly letting the speaker’s words make their impact. And you prayed that the Gospel would wreck your version of the American dream, shatter the comfort zone.
That led to saying yes and no longer delaying the life of a camp counselor. It also led to one of the biggest changes ever, a potential internship abroad and giving up all you’ve known to learn in a whole new way. A chance to scream it from the mountains that He is God – though little do you know you will do that just by living through this year.
It’s fitting that these two dates, the prayer to be more desperate for Jesus and the prayer to let the Gospel wreck you, fell within almost an exact year of one another.
It was the dream internship, serving with an organization you love in a place that you’ve always been drawn to. The sting of the airplane ticket you should be holding and the frenzy of preparation you would be in still lingers, though dulled by life moving on. You watched as the chance to go fell through your fingers, and the reality of the short time left made you reevaluate.
And while you trust that He is sovereign, that His plan for this story is better and more complete than what you hope for, it still hurts. The death of a dream, of something you struggled with for a long time, then stepped out in faith greater than fear. You remember the tears falling the day your schedule worked out so you could go. Now, you’ll never know what could have been.
It’s been a year of saying goodbye to things you wished you never had to, walking through more of life than you had ever wished to.
In learning what it means to be truly desperate for Jesus, the goodbyes continue. Your mom becomes more alive than ever before but leaves behind a hole in your heart. Other hopes and opportunities falling through. And there is still more to come, more fallout to endure.
But through it all, through every heart-shattering second, every step that feels impossible to carry on, He is there. And while you may not be heading to Uganda, while you may not land where you’d first hoped would be the perfect fit, while dynamics are changing and you don’t know what “normal” should look like anymore, you still find peace. Because it may seem as though the world has been taken from you, but you have Jesus. You have learned that makes all the difference, that Him being in control leads to the best outcomes, and you will continue to learn what being desperate for Him means with every day as you process it all.
So take the world but give me Jesus. Because the more desperate I become, the more I see Him and His sufficiency.
Let’s be more desperate,