The music from my car’s radio turned to static as I wound my way through the Santa Cruz Mountains on Highway 17. I clicked the knob off and breathed a prayer: God, thanks for being with me wherever I go. I’ve prayed a lot about this trip and you know what I need, so I’m not going to keep saying it. Please help me to be silent now and just feel your presence.
Half an hour later I was pulling into a parking space at the conference center. My heart thudded in my chest as I walked past a cheerful sign saying “Welcome Mount Hermon Christian Writers.” I chastised myself silently: Yesterday you spoke to a room full of women and assured them that “God + Me = A Majority.” Do you believe that’s true in your own life today?
It was my first time to the conference and I’d felt some dread in the months leading up to it. I was nervous about spending four nights away from my family with several hundred writers, literary agents, editors and publishers. Knowing I was a rookie and that I didn’t know a soul attending didn’t help. To say it was a step out of my comfort zone would be an understatement.
I found reassurance reminding myself that I wasn’t alone and never would be. I tried to let the title of my talk travel from my head to my heart: “God + Me = A Majority.” I repeated the line several times to grasp its truth. God came up the mountain with me. He would also meet me there and connect me to others who knew Him. I could trust Him because His promises were true.
I thought about all of the people I’d referenced in my talk the day before. Throughout the Bible God promised many people He would be with them: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Joseph, Jeremiah and Gideon—to name a few. In Hebrews we find this promise for all who follow Jesus: “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5b)
The only reason we can claim this promise is that Jesus made it possible for us. His death on the cross allows us to have direct and permanent access to God. As we celebrate Holy Week, it seems only fitting to consider the price Jesus paid so that we will never be forsaken by God.
While He walked the earth, Jesus took great comfort in knowing His Father was with Him. On the night before He was crucified, He told His disciples in the garden: “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.” (John 16:32) He knew His closest friends would desert Him in His hour of greatest need, yet He took comfort knowing His Father was there with Him.
A day later, Jesus had been arrested, beaten and nailed to a cross. His pain was not only physical, but also spiritual and emotional. This was the only time in His earthly life He could not find comfort in His Father’s presence. As He suffered in agony, He cried out the words of David from Psalm 22 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The Wycliffe Bible Commentary explains: “The Father withdrew from communion with the Son. No longer did he evidence his love toward the son. Instead Christ had become the object of the Father’s displeasure, for he was the sinner’s substitute. Christ became ‘sin for us’ and a holy God cannot look with favor upon sin.” (Wycliffe Bible Commentary, 1990 edition, p. 1024)
Jesus took the punishment that we deserved so that we never have to experience being forsaken by God. The very thing that comforts us most as Christians was denied to Him.
Thinking about this makes my heart swell with gratitude. His sacrifice on the cross not only enables us to have eternal life, it also allows us to have the comfort of knowing He walks with us daily.
Knowing this truth should make us passionate about sharing it with others. How could we keep it to ourselves when there is a world desperately in need of hope? One of the best ways we can show Jesus gratitude for His work on the cross is by being lights for Him.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
There are so many different ways we can do this with our actions, attitudes and words. Our neighborhoods, schools and secular workplaces provide abundant opportunities to shine for Jesus. When we help an underserved population locally or overseas, we are bringing light to darkness. Sometimes it can be as simple as showing love and grace when we’re tempted to dish out judgment and criticism. The options are limitless. God gives us the gifts we need and equips us to bring light to the darkness. Our job is to step out obediently to use what He’s given us. This might sound a little intimidating, but we can rest assured that He will be with us and that “God + Me = A Majority.”
Click on the link below to be inspired by Christy Nockels’ song “Life Light Up.”
If you missed my talk at Focused Living, you can access it through my Facebook page: Marybeth Mc Cullum – Author (due to privacy settings I am unable to post it here)
(The title “God + Me = A Majority” was borrowed from an episode of Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey).