When our oldest son John was about 4 he choked to the point of unconsciousness.
Truly, there is not a thing I can think of that is as terrifying as watching life leave your child.
I knew he was choking.
I knew his windpipe was obstructed. I also knew that the desperate thrusts of the Heimlich weren’t working.
I did a mouth sweep and felt the object and out of desperation, against the training I knew safe, I shoved my hand in his mouth and grabbed and pulled the culprit from his throat screaming “Jesus! HELP ME PLEASE!!!”
Thankfully, this dislodged the obstruction and John gasped and immediately began to vomit.
As I sat shriveled and utterly broken on the floor with my baby, I wept out of terror and gratitude.
Slowly, the color returned to his cheeks and lips and he gained some resemblance of himself.
I asked him, “Are you okay baby?”
He nodded and said, “Yes mommy, but I hate Jesus… he trwied to kwill me.”
Indeed, John had choked on a crucifix, a one-inch long sterling silver relic from a little store in the basement of Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
I knew that Jesus had answered my plea. But John-John only knew the terror of nearly choking to death on Jesus.
I can sympathize with thinking Jesus was trying to kill me.
For the better part of my Christian walk it has been me and bad Jesus.
The juju that I embraced about Him is much more obvious with the noose removed from around my neck. The noose of condemnation, the yoke of shame, and the brutality of working to please and appease Him was draining the life from me.
And I believed that I was condemned for the most obvious of my struggles… the size of my butt.
Bad Jesus and my big butt were my focus. Sin consciousness was the name of the game. It was a full-time job. If only, if only I could conquer this one thing then Jesus would approve of me and we would then be blessed.
I piled on more rules and regulations to accommodate my struggle. If I could only make the laws more pleasant, less detrimental maybe this time, I would succeed.
And when I would fail, which was always, I would look for some new quick fix in a desperate attempt to make Jesus approve of me and protect me from bad things.
Similar to my cries for my choking son, I cried out for freedom from the nightmare that was my Christian walk… walk?
“Jesus! HELP ME PLEASE!!!”
And His answer, “There is no BUT in SOZO.”
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My butt was not the but that was separating me from my salvation.
Sozo is the Greek word for saved, to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction, to save a suffering one (from perishing), to make well, heal, restore to health to preserve one who is in danger of destruction.
John wasn’t kind of saved from a choking death. He was saved. If you were drowning and I threw you a life jacket you would still have to tread water. If I pulled you from the water and delivered you to shore you would be saved.
The lie I believed about my salvation was that it got worse after I accepted Jesus as my Savior. That I had to keep treading water to keep or earn the gift of the Cross.
And the atrocity is that I did this with everything. Everything I counted against myself, I counted as Jesus condemning me. Laws I was set apart from, do not taste, do not touch, do not… were not for me.
In the context of the Law, which is holy but for the Jews who had not yet met with the Savior of the World, I was being sucked under by my inability to “DO NOT.”
I bounced between legalistic and arrogant and flippant and pathetic.
Mean Jesus was confusing because I was mixing covenants. Laws that were spoken to the people of Moses are no longer applicable to those under the Grace of Jesus Christ.
The smorgasbord of do this, don’t do that, try harder, conquer sin… are not for me.
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Jesus is FOR ME.
He died so that I might live.
He came to bind up the broken hearted and bring peace beyond my understanding.
And while He assured me NOTHING could come between He and the love He has for me, I created rules, laws, and idols to keep myself in line.
Yes, Jesus… but….
Tears turned into dancing when I looked at the Word with fresh eyes: two covenants, one for me, one not for me. One that showed the desperate need for a Savior, the other the Glory of His sacrifice.
And a kind and loving Jesus filled up my heart just as He said He would. Never to leave me or forsake me, He is for me.
He is for my children.
He is for my marriage.
He is for my health.
He is for my prosperity.
Nothing lost, nothing beyond repair.
Not a mean Jesus, a lifesaving Jesus – a Jesus with no if, ands or butts.
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May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained. Love, Jami
1 Corinthians 10:23 Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.
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