I am one of the Southern writers for this blog, and I have always considered myself a girlie girl. I love to get my toes done and, as we say in the South, my hair “did.” So what I am about to tell you, I assure you is not normal for my prissy self, nor attributable to my very Southern roots.
Y’all, I chewed chewing tobacco.
And not just any tobacco, but tobacco from an old pouch of Redman chewing tobacco my neighbor had found in his truck . . . and who knows how long it had been in there.
But you see, I was desperate—desperate to end the pain of a horribly, abscessed tooth. I had been hurting for days while waiting on a root canal, hurting so badly that I found myself ready to try just about anything. In my search for relief, I had decided to take the advice of my husband’s friend who had suggested holding chewing tobacco against my gum to reduce the pain and swelling.
I unrolled the old, wrinkled pouch, pulled out the tobacco, and placed it in my mouth, carefully heeding my son’s advice to “not swallow,” and not caring if I smudged my lipstick.
While the relief wasn’t complete, it was enough that I made myself a spit cup and called to remind my husband to stop and buy me my own fresh pack of Redman chewing tobacco on his way home the next day.
I never thought I would find myself asking my man to buy me chewing tobacco!
But desperate I was and, truthfully, I hadn’t been that desperate about anything in a long time.
Desperate for Jesus?
The next morning, I read the familiar account of Peter jumping out of the boat to get to Jesus in John 21. Peter was desperate to be with His Savior. I read that passage and wondered, Am I as desperate to be near Jesus as I was to be relieved of my excruciating tooth pain?
Am I truly desperate to be with Jesus?
Is my love for Jesus just an emotional one I have grown up with here in the South and have grown accustomed to? Or is love for my Savior something I still delight in and find myself desperate for? Does it still spur me to action?
Would I jump out of that boat? Or am I just too busy and too tired?
I wondered if the busyness of life has caused me to lose my desire to do anything to follow the One who has done so much more than answer prayers and ease temporary pain. He has saved me for eternity and loves me lavishly every day.
Am I still desperate to be near Jesus? And am I desperate for others to find real, eternal “pain relief” and peace in Him, or am I just too busy with my own day and my own stuff to tell anyone about Jesus?
I continued reading the passage.
After Peter jumped out of that boat, he sat with Jesus and he ate. After eating, Jesus looked at Peter, who had denied Him three times before the cross, and asked, “Peter, do you (agape) love me?” to which Peter responded twice, “I (phileo) love you.”
But Jesus was looking for something more.
The third time Jesus asked Peter, “Do you (phileo) love me?” as if to say, “Do you only emotionally love me?” to which Peter finally responded, “I (agape) love you”—signifying a committed love of the will.
And I wondered, How deep is my love for Jesus?
Is my love for Jesus simply an emotional (phileo) love that I find easy to keep to myself, or is it the kind of committed (agape) love that compels me to follow Him with all that I have? Does my love cause me to live a radical life that points others to the freedom and hope that is the “God-with-us” Immanuel of Christmas?
The God of Real Relationship
Funny how God used my tooth pain and a pack of Redman chewing tobacco to remind me of the committed, real love He wants from me. But that is the God of real relationship. He often makes His presence known in the craziest of ways. After all, He came to earth via a virgin birth in a barn!
He is so good (Ps. 119:68) and completely wise (Job 9:4). His ways are best (Ps. 128:1), and He goes before us (Deut. 31:8). As we submit more of our lives to Him, we find greater peace, hope, and joy (Rom. 8:6). So of course we should want to be near Him.
He is the Alpha and Omega, The Great I AM, the Comforter, the Prince of Peace, the Lion of Judah, the Most High God, the King of Kings, the Savior, the Perfect Lamb, Jehovah, and the Christ of Christmas.
He is working and moving and desiring to make His presence and peace known in our daily lives all year long.
But do we see Him? Are we desperate to see Him in each day?
Are you still as desperate to be near Him in this day as you were the day you gave your life to Him and trusted Him for eternity?
As we leave the wonderful time of celebrating the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ, let’s ask ourselves once again:
- Am I truly desperate for Jesus and deeply in love with Him?
- Would I be willing to jump out of the boat to be near Him even if it wasn’t on my schedule for the day?
- Is Jesus more than just a story of a baby in a manger to me?
- Is He more than a pretty dress and a candlelight service?
- Has Jesus changed my life and caused me to trust Him enough to do all that He says in His Word?
- Am I desperate for others to know Him in real relationship? Do I slow down enough to see them?
- Am I living this way every day and not just at Christmastime?
- Am I desperate to really love Jesus, deeply in a committed way? Is He the reason for every season?
Oh, how He (agape) loves us! How desperately He must love us to leave a throne in heaven to come and rescue us!
We who were walking in darkness, who have seen the great Light, who have tasted of His goodness, have so very much to be thankful for in this new year and all year long!
May the redeemed be desperate to say so!