God woke me up and showed me Jesus when I was in high school. My one and only high school boyfriend was about to escort me to a fancy Christmas party, and I was stoked. I’d noticed him acting a little strange recently, but I was sure it would pass. Instead, after the party he drove me to a quiet, romantic spot, and broke up with me.
I was devastated. My mother shouldered the burden of sorrow and rejection with me, but I refused to be comforted. As far as I was concerned, I was not only unloved, I was unlovable. Days turned into weeks. Then of all things, my mother—who was not the Bible thumping type—said this, “Rondi, you’ve got to get a hold of yourself. You need to ‘put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the waters.’”
In a flash, the Holy Spirit connected the dots for me. The Jesus of my childhood suddenly became the mighty Savior of the Scriptures who had come to rescue me. The 1971 folk song brought a portion of God’s word to life and Jesus stepped off the page.
I’d heard Bible stories in Sunday School, but I’d never actually read the Bible for myself. I suddenly became hungry to know what was in that book!
College surfaced other hungers in my life. I wrestled with my identity in the fiercely competitive culture of the university I attended. I had thought I was a smart kid, but there I felt stupid. A campus ministry couple took me under their wing and led me through Romans, feeding my newborn faith one week at a time.
I soon learned to feed myself from the Scriptures with an academic approach typical of my college years. But then came marriage and our first child. Suddenly I was lost in a haze of sleep deprivation and smelly clothes. I couldn’t find my hair brush, much less my Bible. My academic approach crumbled under the incessant demands of a hungry infant, and I floundered. “Lord, I need you more than ever! How am I going to feed my own hungry soul when I’m trying to be a 24-hour, on-call, human milk dispenser?”
Learning to Feed
God showed me a simpler way. I would read a page or so, pick a verse, write it on a 3X5 card and stick it where I could see it. The next day—or maybe days later—I would read the next page.
Those verses became my sanity, my lifeline back to the Lord throughout the day or night. Immersed in some messy moment of motherhood, my eyes would light on the verse and the Holy Spirit would speak to me through it.
But it wasn’t always a word about Christ. Those verses included promises, but also commands. I tried harder to trust and obey, but most of the time I did not see my Savior there. That’s when God began to show me a method that would grow into my book Hungry: Learning to Feed Your Soul with Christ. Let me give one example of what I address in the book.
Jesus came not just to give us food, but to be our food. It isn’t just his words that I need, not his example either. I need Christ himself. I need him to take every last bit of my wrongs upon himself and endure the full punishment for them. But I need more than that.
I used to focus on this: “Jesus died for my sins.” I would regularly confess my sin to him and thank him for paying for it. All that was very “legal.” But by itself forgiveness left me feeling naked. Clean, but unclothed, maybe even alone. That was when I came to understand the treasure of his obedience for me.
The Plenty of His Life
From birth to death, every moment of Jesus’ life was lived in obedience to the entire word of God. Every deed. Every word. Every thought. Every tremor of emotion was brought into alignment with God’s holy will. Theologians call this his active obedience.
Yet Jesus didn’t obey God like some kind of preprogrammed, robotic, zombie God-man. He felt the weaknesses we feel. When he was tempted, he suffered just like we do. His daily obedience wasn’t automatic, it was deliberate. And it was personal—to cover me, clothe me. To give himself to me.
Understanding this, here’s what I began to do. I meditated on the life of Christ and took specific moments of his obedience into my heart as a salve for my troubled conscience. So let’s say I’m getting ready for bed and suddenly remember I failed to make that important phone call I’d promised to make. That person needed me. I failed to love them. What should I do?
I should write it down on my to do list for the next day, of course, but what then? My previous habit would be to confess my failure and then promise him I would do better next time. Now instead, I do this: I ruminate on Jesus as the perfect promise keeper. I allow him to clothe and cover me so that God now sees me as a perfect promise keeper. In other words, He feeds me with himself and I feed on his righteousness.
I am learning to change my knee-jerk response of how can I do better? Instead I ask myself: When did Jesus do this right for me? My mind mulls over the record of his life until I see the connection. Ah, yes…there!
I thank him and clasp his perfect life to my heart as I settle into sleep. He is my righteousness.
I wake, eager to make that phone call, but also to search the Scriptures for another nugget of his obedience that I can claim as mine.
About the Author:
Rondi Lauterbach has been a friend and encourager to women in their life’s callings. She is wife to PCA Pastor Mark Lauterbach, mother, grandmother, and fierce competitor at board games. Her first book, Hungry: Learning to Feed Your Soul With Christ now comes with a video teaching series.