“I want Jesus!,” my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter exclaimed the other day, as she grasped for the ceramic baby Jesus in the nativity scene on our kitchen table. These days when advertisers prostitute themselves for our dollars and every manner of holiday festivity competes for our time, my daughter’s un-self-conscious exclamation reminds me of what I really want, too, when I am obliged to stand still and face my inner neediness.
A friend has reminded me of theologian Stanley Hauerwas’ words: “It’s all about Jesus and the rest is bull shit.” Hauerwas’ sentiments, I suspect, could not ring more true than around this time of year when Christians celebrate the birth of a Savior in a manger, because there was no place for Him at the inn. We don’t have to worship God in an actual feeding trow at the nearest farm (or in our case, the local petting zoo) to appreciate the full significance of the imagery: that we (or at least most of us, I suspect) relinquish only the rough-shod, unkempt, least-valued margins of our existence to One who has come into the world to indwell all of us and our world with His Holy Spirit. Like a Lover who wants all of us but gets only a small part of us because our lives are too crowded and our hearts too restless, God waits for us to return to Him.
A friend recently lamented her forgetfulness of God of late- that she over the years had grown distant in a relationship that she knew was important. I told her what my spiritual director once told me not long ago when I voiced a similar concern. She said that my thirst for God would tell me when “to drink.” I have found this to be true.
Somewhere, in the midst of the endless commercial bustle and incessant demands on our time, I suspect that there is a voice in every one of us which exclaims, “I want Jesus!” Or, “God, where are you?” Or, “God, will you show up? I need you.” Or, “God, is this holiday bullshit all there is? Because I want more.”
And the One who put that thirst there will lead us to water.
Don’t miss the next in our series, “Weird Jesus Sayings”: ”If anyone speaks a word against the son of man, it will be forgiven. But if anyone speaks a word against the Holy Spirit, it won’t be forgiven, either in the present age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:32).