This makes me think back to when I was in seminary 25 years ago. The blessings were many, and I am grateful for the godly professors I learned from. Those years were spent researching and gaining knowledge of the Scriptures. I studied Greek and Hebrew, philosophy and history, ancient culture and missions. It’s an honest thing to say I was a very bright, very good student. But somehow, at the end of all my learning, spiritually I was dying.
I lost Jesus. I studied, researched and learned all about Him, but somehow I lost Him. It was at this same time, toward the end of my senior year, that I began pastoring a small church and preaching four times a week! That is not an exaggeration to prove my point. You may not hear this from other preachers, but honestly, I was losing Jesus even in the midst of much ministry. Sure, here and there I saw Him. Here and there I embraced Him. Here and there I wept before Him. But it was not a consistent thing. And I grew weary, wanting to give up the ministry the Lord gave me.
But I look back now and thank God for the few months of that “dark night” of my soul. It was during that time that I began to pursue and embrace the Lord again. I began living again and each day loving Him. He was no longer distant and far off, but near and continually before my eyes. I realized then, and still do today, that I have only one need. That need is Jesus.
That truth affects my relationships with the people around me as well. There is nothing that draws me close to someone except that he or she loves Jesus. It used to be that there were a thousand criteria I looked for in a person before I could accept them. I had my measuring scale upon which I weighed everyone. But now there is only one thing that matters: Does he or she love Jesus? No longer does it concern me if they use a different translation of the Bible. No longer does it matter if they subscribe to the doctrinal fine points that I believe. It doesn’t matter if they are conservative or liberal in this or that. It is no longer an issue of dress or speech or anything else. It is only an issue of Jesus. The older I get, the more and more I learn that there is nothing more important than Jesus Himself.