By Jenna Ebener
This Easter season I have been fascinated by the story of Judas. Jesus knew Judas was going to betray him, yet Jesus chose Judas to be one of his 12 apostles. Jesus saw the darkness in Judas and still loved him. Instead of trying to change the future, Jesus let Judas use God’s gift of free will to make his own choices. Those choices led Jesus to his crucifixion and Judas to take his own life after he realized what he had done. Yet, God also showed us how he turns even the darkest of moments into beauty by raising his Son from the dead, giving life to those who have died and the hope of salvation to those who live.
We are all like Judas at points throughout our lives. We are human, we have free will and we make mistakes. We lose sight of Jesus and who we are and instead seek our worth from material things or other people. When we realize that our focus is on something or someone other than God, we may be like Judas and think we are beyond saving. My hope is that we can instead fix our eyes on our Savior and rely on him to move forward.
After much reflection, I realize that my focus is often on seeking the approval of others rather than seeing that I am already enough in God’s eyes. I am good at reading others but subconsciously thought my worth was dependent on others agreeing with what I did. I felt like I needed to be productive constantly and to show my skill at what I did to be deserving of love and respect. If someone did not like my work or if I disagreed with someone, I often tried to state my view but sugarcoat it so that my true meaning would often be lost.
I realize that I took that approach to try to minimize the discomfort of others. Yet, as I have written in recent articles, I now recognize the importance of discomfort. Struggling is a part of the human experience and allows God to work through us in ways that he cannot when we are content and living in ease. By holding firm to the knowledge that we are enough exactly as we are, we become free to live authentically and let the love of God shine. If we keep our eyes on God when we are struggling, we will realize the strength and light we have as children of God instead of becoming overwhelmed by our humanness.
Lately, I have been playing a Christian song “Jireh,” (Elevation Worship and Maverick City) that reminds me that no matter what we have done or what we do, God loves us exactly as we are. I encourage you to reflect on the words of the first stanza and think about how we would live differently if we truly believe these words. For we are enough exactly as we are:
“I’ll never be more loved than I am right now
Wasn’t holding You up
So there’s nothing I can do to let You down
It doesn’t take a trophy to make You proud
I’ll never be more loved than I am right now.”
(Jenna Ebener, a graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, is a social worker at a school in Colorado for students with a combination of medical, cognitive and behavior disabilities. She relies on God every day to aid her on this wonderful, yet intense journey.)