Jesus Makes Me Nervous

Jesus makes me nervous.

Does that happen to you?

For example, a conversation can be going along perfectly fine when suddenly His name comes up and, I don’t know, I sit up a little straighter and brace myself because, who knows where we’ll be headin’ now.

I’m more hobbit than human. I wasn’t really born wired for adventure.

People who know me in person wish I would just relax a little (okay, a lot). And they tell me this with some frequency.

My nervous nature amuses my daughter. She chuckles that I get uptight going through airport security – afraid that one day, I’LL discover that I’m a terrorist (I could be part of a sleeper cell – how would I know – have you seen the Manchurian Candidate?)

And she laughs aloud at my anxiety that perhaps, one time, driving over a suspension bridge, I’ll have the sudden urge to veer right and just sail off the edge. (She’s offered to have me cremated when I die and toss my ashes off a bridge to symbolically commemorate that I’ve overcome my fears. She’s a seriously sarcastic child.)

When I was a little girl, I was afraid of passing trains, large dogs, (okay, small dogs, too), the cellar stairs, the basement, the dark, fast cars, the ocean, yeast (pour a packet into warm water and watch it – it’s creepy), roller coasters, back roads, and breaking rules. I’d get nauseous just watching someone break rules (which made living with my daredevil kid brother the equivalent of being strapped to the mast of a fishing trawler at high sea during a hurricane.)

Why Jesus ever thought I’d be good to have as a follower is beyond me because He leads to some crazy places and I wouldn’t think He’d want someone along clutching the sides of the boat, hiding her eyes, screaming “are we there yet?”

There are Christians who thrill at the thought of missionary adventures in extreme settings, of bungee jumping into unreached people-groups, prayer warriors in urban camouflage, commandos for Christ who volunteer for every front line assignment, large hearty zucchini-wielding rural women unafraid “in Jesus’ name” of any battle be it over style of worship or demonic possession. I’m not one of them.

There was a misunderstanding at work this week and my new boss approached me, angrily asking why I would defy her rules. I almost laughed (except I was too scared). “You don’t know me well, yet.” I replied “But, I don’t ‘defy’ people. I straighten up if you yell at the person next to me!”

So, with my uptight-hate-trouble-and-conflict-and-making-waves-try-to-please personality, it’s shocking that Jesus invited me along for this ride because He just doesn’t give two fig trees what people think of Him. He says what He wants. He does what He will. He hangs where He hangs and acts when it appeals to Him.

This is His Father’s world and He is His Father’s son. Jesus is totally secure, living and moving without fear and without apology. He knows “that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;” (John 13:3) and THAT information sets Him completely at ease. I find it terrifying and mesmerizing to watch Him in action.

The apostle John tells the story of when Jesus learned that Lazarus was sick. He told His disciples they’d be heading back to Judea. A few of them, (calmly, I’m sure), reminded Him that back in Judea, (ahem) people wanted Him dead. In fact, they’d already tried to stone him. (them’s some low poll numbers)

That doesn’t faze Jesus. He remembers the threats and the attempts on His life but, still, He thinks they should take go back. I don’t know how the others reacted but I love Thomas who said “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” Aahh, Thomas, the “Eeyore” disciple.

That’s the thing about Jesus, though. Thomas figured they were walking to their deaths but he knew the only place to be was with Jesus. I am allergic to conflict, trouble, arguing, controversy, making waves or bucking convention but I find myself unwilling to leave Jesus even if it means all of the above.

And Jesus loved Thomas, despite Thomas’s issues. And He loves me, despite mine.

Others make fun of my nervous disposition. Scream at me to “RELAX!” Roll their eyes or suggest medication. Jesus just winks at my frailty, then He grabs my hand and we’re off to adventures I would never have taken on my own. There is nowhere I would rather be than with Him – even when the stones fly.

Because, with Jesus, we won’t die.

Oh, we will die to our smaller selves. We will die to comfort, to convention, to routine, to our addiction to approval, to capitulation, to selfish ambition, to personal gain, to relationships based on power, to rights, to operating from human strength and to love of self. There will be stones and there will be deaths but what Thomas and Lazarus both learned is that death was not the end they thought it would be.

Jesus has been on the other side of death and that is why when the boat rides atop the highest waves and public opinion turns on a hefty rock in a hand on a well-muscled arm, He is unafraid.

He makes me nervous but there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than beside Him.

And He loves even us neurotic disciples who startle easily and who cringe at barking dogs. Sometimes He revels in us most because it is through us with our quaking knees, our faltering voices and our hesitant declarations of truth that people are most likely to catch a glimpse of Him. They know our courage MUST be powered by another source and this is part of our witness.

Jesus makes me very nervous. But the thought of being apart from Him? Now, that’s something to fear.

How about you?
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    The Conversation

  1. Aha, but think of it this way…. He chose you to run with all hour nervousness into the unknown. And you know what? I can think of no better leader than someone like you.

  2. Jennifer says:

    I love this post for many reasons, but especially b/c I’ve now found someone with the same bridge problem as me! Reason says I’d never do it, but the thought is there all the same. And I’m not even generally nervous!
    Except when Jesus sends me on a crazy mission. Happened last week. Still no safer place to be than standing beside Him, even if I’m quaking in my boots!

  3. Lesley says:

    I think this is one of the most authentic posts I have read so far of yours…this is just DELIGHTFUL…not your nervousness but your devotion to cling to Christ in spite of it…I really like this “death was not the end they thought it would be” that itself is cause for courage. ♥