To Him We Go

I am referring to my family’s experiences in 2021 as a roller coaster ride. We had some wonderful “high” experiences and some deep lows, and they just kept coming one after another all year long! As the year winds down, it seems we are finally rolling into the platform and can take a few minutes to collect ourselves and reflect on the ride.

One thing I realized is that we remained confident God was with us through every dip, rise, and turn. At the moments it felt like all we could do was close our eyes and hold on tight, our trust in Him never wavered. And in the most joyous moments we thanked Him for blessing us far beyond what we deserve. We experienced far more life in and through our circumstances, not despite them. He was with us — holding us, guiding us, protecting us — the whole time. It was quite a ride!

The other day I was reminded of this heartfelt exchange between Jesus and the apostle Peter:

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68-69, NIV)

What a wonderful verse! And filled with so much truth! My heart sings praise to God when I read it, resonating with Peter’s sentiments and conviction.

To whom shall we go? When things get tough, to whom do we turn? When we have a friendship with God through Jesus Christ, we are connected to the best possible option. No one nor nothing else we can turn to for help and hope can even come close to what He offers! Far more life puts this verse into practice:

Come near to God and he will come near to you. (James 4:8, NIV)

You have the words of eternal life. Who else can offer us eternal life? No one.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, NIV)

Perhaps one reason this verse is so well-known is because it is stated so simply and clearly. God was motivated by love for us, by a desire to have a relationship with us. He sacrificed the One He loved most to make that possible. We reap the benefit of spiritual life that starts now and lasts for eternity, getting better and better as time goes on. Far more life grows in love from God and love for God as it holds tight to the words He recorded in the Scriptures.

We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God. This sentence is the key. The reason we stick with God is because of who He is. We know who He is because we have experienced His grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, and more firsthand. Jesus is more than a historical figure to us, He is our Lord, Savior, and friend. We have witnessed the fulfillment of His promises. We have followed His instructions for life and found them favorable. We know He is God’s Son by faith and by experience.

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29, NIV)

Far more life believes in God and is willing to believe in Him when facing challenges. It seeks to see how He keeps His promises and offers praise when it sees Him in action.

Maybe you have had a roller coaster year — or life — as well. I hope you are going to Jesus and finding far more life in Him! (If you are not, invite Him to join you. He welcomes anyone who chooses to go to Him!)

Where do you go for help during the hard times?
Where do you go for celebration during good times?
Do you believe that Jesus has the words of eternal life? If not, what role does Jesus play in your life?
Are you confident that Jesus is the Holy One of God? If not, are you willing to ask God to help you see who He says Jesus is?
If you have found far more life, thank God for it.

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso

Far More Confidence

As a newlywed I did not want to bother my husband by asking for help with chores we had agreed I would complete. One Saturday it became obvious that I couldn’t get everything done on my long list before company arrived. And I started to stress. Finally, I broke down and asked if he would be able to help with a few tasks. He was surprised to see my level of distress and gladly pitched in, doing what I asked and even offering to do more. Later he gently asked why I waited so long to ask for help. His response to my explanation has stuck with me over the years: “I am always going to be busy doing something. But helping you was more important than what I was doing. You are always free to ask for my help, even if I look busy.”

Asking for help can be hard and uncomfortable. Sometimes we are afraid of rejection. Other times we prefer to avoid the disappointment of hearing “no”. For me, it is often hardest to ask for help when I feel insecure. Will the person respond with annoyance? Ridicule? Or worse, ignore me? It feels dangerous to make myself vulnerable to someone who might minimize, judge, or criticize my request. So I hesitate, trying to decide whether, how, and when I should ask. I forfeit the peace and joy of far more life at those times.

Sometimes we are hesitant to ask God for help for many of the same. Fortunately, the Bible addresses our insecurity:

Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses. On the contrary, we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin. Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it. (Hebrews 4:15-16, GNT)

The High Priest held a significant role in the Jewish community. When questions arose, He took them to God and communicated His will to the people. He also went before God once a year to make a sacrifice for the people’s sins, to attain God’s forgiveness and favor. Jesus serves as our High Priest. The passage encourages us to boldly ask God for help, being confident that we will receive mercy and find grace from Him. But the verses go a step further by explaining WHY we should have confidence, WHY it is safe to approach God: because Jesus can relate to us. He has been in our shoes. He has faced temptation and experienced the challenges we face. And while He never sinned, He knows we will sometimes fall short. Since He is never surprised by this, it is always safe to ask for His help.

We experience far more life when we know God well enough to approach Him confidently at any time. He is our Daddy who is always ready to listen. He will take all of our requests seriously, never laughing at our weakness or lack of understanding. And He always knows exactly what help we need, even when we are uncertain. Far more life feels safe in approaching Him and trusts Him to respond well.

God’s help is always what we need but He does not always give the answer we expect. In His wisdom, He can see what is best for us — and His kingdom — in the long run. Sometimes it is best for Him to change the situation we are facing, which is usually what we want. But often His answer is to give us the opportunity to change to be more like Him. His most merciful and gracious answer may be encouragement to persevere. Or a reminder to forgive. It could challenge us to adopt an eternal perspective. Or to point out where we have missed His way. His answer often grows us to better reflect His character in our difficulties: love; joy; peace; patience; and other qualities of His Spirit. His answer to our requests leads us to far more life in both the current and future difficulties. These verses reveal His long-term goals for us:

…We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3-4, NIV)

And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6, GNT)

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. (I John 4:18, NIV)

Once we have accepted Jesus’ offer to take the punishment for our sins, we know that God will never punish us. We have no reason to be afraid of Him. We have every reason to love Him and believe that He loves us perfectly. We can always approach Him with confidence, regardless of our circumstances. We can expect Him to respond to every request with mercy and grace. We can trust Him to give us only the best answer every time we ask for His help.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11, NIV)

Because of His goodness, we can confidently ask Him for help and expectantly look for the good — and far more life — in each of His answers.

What makes it hard for you to ask others for help?
What kind of reaction do you expect from God when you ask for help? (annoyed, critical, apathetic, kind, compassionate, etc.)
What prevents you from approaching God confidently?
What helps you accept His answer when it is not what you expected?
Ask Him to help you see the help He offers is best and grow your confidence — and far more life.

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso