Saying Yes to Jesus!
Can you remember a time when you were a kid that you got into a heap of trouble? That barely ever happened to me. I was the ideal child growing up; obedient, quiet, loving, hard-working…I can go on and on. However, in grade three I didn’t do my homework. I got separate warnings from my teacher and my parents, but I still kept not doing it. Finally, my parents actually met with my teacher to talk about it as I sat near them, mortified and staring down at my jeans. I had a whole arsenal of excuses going through my eight-year-old mind: I keep forgetting! or It’s too hard! or I had music practice! or even Julie and Bobby don’t do theirs, either!Making excuses isn’t a good thing…especially when it comes to sin. Up until a few years ago, I’d never really considered the reality of hell. In my mind, I’d been a good girl. If I faced God after death and He asked me why I told those lies, disobeyed my parents, gossiped, etc, I would counteract by telling Him that I went to Sunday mass every week pretty much my whole life, I prayed sometimes, and never killed anyone. I would compare myself to the people I knew and tell Him why I’m so much better because I’d never done some of the sinful things they had done. I would probably even add – proudly – that I got involved with the parish youth group to grow in my faith and volunteered at a soup kitchen a couple times. I gave a few dollars to some homeless guy and was about to climb a tree and save a cat once but then…didn’t (hey, it’s the thought that counts, right?).
When I got to university, I met a movement called “Catholic Christian Outreach” (CCO) and was invited to take a small group faith study. With much hesitation, I joined, but participated very minimally in it. In my mind, I already knew everything there was to know about the Catholic faith – be a good person, and that’s that.
One day a CCO missionary asked, “Chantal, what does it mean when we say, ‘Jesus, I trust in You’?” I had grown up in a faithful Catholic family and had seen and said that prayer many times. But for some reason, my mind was pretty much blank! I couldn’t answer her. She replied, “When we say ‘Jesus, I trust in You,’ we are basically saying, ‘Jesus, You are the bridge that allows me to come to the Father despite my sins, and that You will never fail me if I try to cross that bridge. Jesus, I trust in Your mercy for me.’”
In that moment, I realized I had to trust in Jesus to get me into Heaven. No matter how good of a person I was, it would never be enough to overcome the separation that sin created between God and I. No matter how many cats I almost saved or youth group meetings I attended, it wasn’t enough to get me into heaven. I realized the reality of my situation and there were no excuses that could get me out of it: I was guilty of my sin. But in His infinite love for me, He became man and willingly suffered, died and rose from the dead. I would never be able to get to heaven without the sacrifice of Christ. For the first time in my life, I realized what the crucifix actually meant. Jesus had died to save me. And I totally wasn’t worthy of that. This “spiritual resume” mindset, where I would try to bargain with God for my salvation, made me feel really guilty anytime I fell short. Instead of trying to be better, I was making excuses instead.
But ever since I recognized my need for Jesus, I’ve also recognized His infinite mercy, knowing that whenever I approach Him with humility, He will always forgive me no matter what I’ve done or failed to do. I’ve experienced His mercy first-hand in the Sacrament of reconciliation. I have a personal relationship with Him that is sustained by His unconditional love for me, and this is where I find my worth. This has inspired me to be the best person I can be for Him, and has brought me a lot of joy and freedom.
Soon after this experience, I began to notice that many other people didn’t have the joy and freedom that I had, and I really wanted them to. So I started to talk more about my relationship with God to my family and friends. I got more involved in CCO’s on-campus ministry and led faith studies with other students. It was amazing how much life I got from inviting people to encounter God. By the end of my degree, I realized that God was calling me to work for CCO full-time as a campus missionary. In 2010, I joined staff with CCO and have experienced so much joy in my job. Seeing others encounter Jesus’ love and mercy is so incredible and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection have given us a choice. Despite being failures, we can choose His mercy. We can choose to depend on Him to get to heaven and find our worth in Him. He created you for this ultimate purpose: to experience His love as His beautiful daughter. By choosing to find your worth in Him, I guarantee that your basic human needs of love, joy, and freedom will be met. Instead of chasing those things as an end to themselves, root yourself in the Source of all these: Jesus Himself. If you want affirmation of your dignity as a human, if you want healing, and if you want an end to loneliness and fear, go to Jesus. Only He will satisfy. And that is because our basic identity hinges on the fact that we are His children, created to love and be loved by Him. So I’d like to invite you, dear reader, if you’ve never done so, to ask God to show you how much He loves you and to say ‘yes’ to entering into a life-giving relationship with Him. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. In fact, keep saying this ‘yes’ every day, and soon you’ll see how fulfilling a relationship with Jesus really is. I will be praying for you!