I think I made it 25 days of straight posting, or thereabouts. Not quite thirty, but close. I am on my second week of soul, body, and mind recovery (a friend laughed out loud when I said that today) after the maddest of crazed summers. I have just stepped foot into the hush of the woodsy, golden autumn months and oh, am I glad. I went to the first meeting for a Biblestudy I’ll be in all this year, and decided I would post my study assignment from the summer. For the first meet up, all the women involved had to bring an essay they had written out of their experience of studying the Gospel of Mark all summer. The essay topic was “why I love Jesus, and why He is worth following.” This is a back to the very seed small basics of loving God. I love that it begins with a “why?”
Writing out my answer was to affirm all over again the things I hold most dearly true, and often ignore. So:
A High Beauty: Why I Follow Jesus
Far above the mountains in the west, the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach. –J.R.R. Tolkien
“To you has been given the mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven.” When I read those words of Jesus’, I feel like Sam, the little hobbit, when he looked out from death and destruction and found himself face to face with a light that could never be dimmed. When I confront the person of Jesus in the Gospels, the thing that calls out to me with the voice of a siren is His constant call to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. In those words, I finally find hope that the joy and beauty I have always yearned for is real, and exists in a real place that I was created to find. As a bit of an idealist, I am always aware of a longing in my heart for a beauty greater than any on earth, for a home I was made for, but have never actually seen.
The reason I love Jesus is because he comes promising that high and eternal beauty that can never be dimmed or defeated. I love Jesus because He affirms to me that beyond the darkness, the whole world and I are cradled in light, that there is a relentless goodness that holds us together even as we struggle and sin. His invitation to the Kingdom of Heaven whispers to me that though I am caught in the shadows of a broken world, I will not be left there.
I follow Jesus because He is the goodness come down into the darkness. He refused to stay beyond my reach in his perfection, but instead desired that I, and every willing person, would be brought home to His kingdom, to share in his unending joy. In the Gospels, I see Jesus continually insisting that people understand this- that they perceive that He came not just to heal or help them temporarily in this, the broken place, but to set them on a journey that would bring them to the home they had always desired. I hear his words as a call over and over to look up and see the glory He is offering. Every story and parable is his aching attempt to get people to finally catch the shocking joy of what can be theirs. Stories of feasts, bridegrooms, grand harvests; so many of them revolve around the choice of a character to be ready and alert, or to be dull and unaware, because what is being offered is the combined hopes and dreams of every human heart throughout history.
There are a dozen smaller reasons I love the Son of Man, as Jesus called himself. The way He took time to know the people around Him, His compassion on His wayward disciples. The confidence with which He proclaimed His words. The tender attention He gave to women and children. But however much these things kindle and encourage me in the day to day, it is that hope of the Kingdom of Heaven that is a high and shining star to me, especially when I am caught in discouragement or despair.
At those bleak times, I see in stark clarity that Jesus in me is a seed of light growing even amidst the shadows. I understand that if I continue to love and follow Him, that seed will grow and grow, up through the darkness, until it reaches the light of the real, eternal world for which it was made. His beauty reaches down to me and His love in my heart helps me to reach up and grasp it. It is that that keeps me trudging after Him every day of my life. With such a hope, I will never stop.