I’ll never forget a conversation I had with a teenager that was fighting a drug addiction and receiving treatment. He had explained to me that for the addict, they often described their drug of choice as their best friend. The drug was a difficult friendship to walk away from because that friendship provided not just a high but a feeling of escape. He had such a strong sense of a need to escape in his life that he couldn’t turn his back on his best friend, marijuana.
God doesn’t want to be your drug of choice. I realize that might sound like a strange or even far out statement. Let me explain what I mean.
Sometimes in our lives we can have those moments where we are simply overwhelmed by an experience of God’s love. It can come at a retreat, a conference, or even just in prayer. This experience can be emotional. One of the kids I work with in my parish youth ministry describes this as a “Jesus high.” One common phrase I have also heard youth ministers use is “conference junkies” for kids just seeking the next “Jesus high.”
Here’s a chart of what some people’s spiritual life might look like:
It’s a series of spiritual highs, plateaus, and spiritual lows.
Those spiritual highs aren’t meant to be moments of escape from which we must then return to our normal lives. That’s a setup for spiritual failure. I strongly believe that when we experience the love of Jesus, this isn’t an escape. These retreat experiences of God aren’t escapes but experiences of what it means to be fully human. You were created with a capacity for love that won’t be satisfied by anything other than God.
Look around you. Most people want to escape from something. Sadly the ideal weekend escape for most people is an escape from the reality of their lives. Ideally as Christians our goal to live lives we don’t need to escape from. We must live differently as Christians.
Here’s the good news: this doesn’t start with some superhuman spiritual resolution to do better. It’s not that you need to never leave the “Jesus high.” Our goal in our spiritual life is to let the love of Jesus into every part of our life. We may have spiritual ups and downs. We will inevitably face hardships and difficulties but our goal is to allow Jesus to walk with us in every part of our life.
Jesus loves every part of you. He wants to bring healing in your life. He wants to walk in the joys of life but also walk with you in difficult situations and relationships. Your spiritual life on a chart might not look very different from the diagram above, but when you truly allow Jesus into every part of our life and every situation, life is very different. Jesus wants to overwhelm you with his love regularly. This is what daily prayer is supposed to be about. Look, I am not saying we are called to have emotional experiences of God on a daily basis. I am saying God wants you to have experiences of his love so regularly that you don’t ever see Jesus as the escape you need.
This is real and it might sound strange to you, but you can experience the love of Jesus this very moment. Please take a couple of minutes and pray today if you haven’t yet. Let his love into your heart. Jesus isn’t hiding at a church or some retreat center, I believe you can experience him this very moment in prayer. So what are you waiting for?