I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Galatians 2:20 ESV
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
I first met Jesus when I was about 4 or 5. Although I was not raised as a believer, my mom decided to send me to Sunday School. My time there was brief and seemingly inconsequential. I do not remember the room, the teachers, or the lessons, and I can’t recall the smells and sounds around me. Instead, I took with me a “parting gift” as profound and lasting as the planting of a mustard seed.
I received a pocket-sized book of The Lord’s Prayer. I can recall this prize down to the last detail. It was made of a medium-grade cardstock and the prayer was written along accordion folds in the book. I was mesmerized by the soft illustrations as I voraciously read the words each day. I treasured that book and carried it around with me for quite some time without knowing why. I just knew that it made me feel safe. My “pocket Jesus”.
Many years later, as my salvation story took shape, I remember chatting with my neighbor in his driveway one afternoon. I was recounting the details of my day–homeschooling my kids in a Christian co-op and working in a women’s bible study ministry–when he said, “Boy, you have a lot of church stuff going on. That’s just too much.” Without hesitation, I remembered my precious prayer book that I carried around in my pocket as a lost child, and I finally understood. For years, Jesus was right next to me, waiting patiently. I grinned brightly at my neighbor as I replied, “Dimitri, I don’t carry Jesus around in my pocket and bring Him out when it suits me. I do not praise Him only on Sundays in church, and I don’t just pray and call out to Him when things go wrong. He is at the center of my life, in every decision that I make, and He shares all my joy and pain. It is through Him that I live. Without Him, I am nothing.” I do not recall if I left an impression on my neighbor that day as he awkwardly changed the subject, but I do know that my “pocket Jesus” became my everything and I obediently shared His good news.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, make us fishers of men. Show us how to bravely and boldly declare our faith even when we are afraid or uncomfortable. May your Holy Spirit guide every thought, word, and deed, as we navigate our complicated world, and grant us the eyes of grace and hearts of love for our neighbors. In your Son’s precious name, Amen.