Lenten devotional – By Your Side

As we reflect on Jesus’ last days with His disciples this week, I wanted to share a recent devotional I wrote for a partner church’s publication. I hope it will be the rare exception for me that I don’t follow my “crescendo focus” pattern for my posts, but I didn’t want to miss the chance to share this bit of encouragement either. 🙂

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever–the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” – John 14:15-18

One popular theme of the Lenten season is “Knowing Jesus Better.” Something we must know about Jesus is that He was fully obedient to His Father God. That obedience led Him to cut short his physical time on earth with His disciples, so that he would follow His Father’s will. And what was His Father’s will? That Jesus would die and become the atoning sacrifice for our sin, making a way for us to be reconciled in relationship with God.

But in those final moments before His death, all the disciples could focus on was the fact that their Teacher was telling them that He was going to leave them. The weight of confusion and imminent abandonment was settling into their hearts and minds. But Jesus loved them way beyond what they could understand, and He sought to give them every assurance that He would be with them always.

He has the same message for us today. He says to us, his disciples, “If you love me, keep my commands.” This is the way of true life. And He will be with us always, living IN us through the Holy Spirit, helping us live our short life on earth in a way that makes God known so that others can be restored in relationship with God, shifting their focus from the things of this earth to God’s Kingdom and eternity. This is what gives our lives true purpose. (Matthew 6:33)

While helping with basic maintenance work for a ministry sailboat in Greece, a missionary colleague of mine asked me to write a song while I labored away on a tedious job. That day happened to be another one of his 30 something birthdays, and being the super reflective person that he was, he always got emotional on his birthday, often fretting over whether he was living his life well or not. This is the song God gave me, which began as a prayer of encouragement for my friend. I pray it encourages you too.(Notice it is written as a dialogue between us and Jesus as we seek to live our lives for Him.)

By Your Side
by Meggan Vasileiadou
April 30, 2009

What is this life, if not lived for you
And what is my goal for each day
If I don’t listen to what you say…

“Seek first my face
And look for me here in this place
…I’m right by your side”

This life is too short, to be driftin’ off course
So give us the grace for today
We’ll let you worry about tomorrow

(‘Cause you said,)
“Seek first my face
And look for me here in this place
I’m right by your side…

“I’m not tryin’ to hide
Just open your eyes
Let me be your guide
And make the world ask why…

“And remember I said,…
‘Seek first my face
And look for me here in this place,’
Because I’m all around you,
Let me astound you,
Remember I’m the one who found you,
And I’ll stick closely by your side
And I’ll help my name to be lifted high…
Oh way up high!

 

In closing, I share with you a prayer of St. Richard of Chichester:

Thanks be to Thee, my Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits Thou hast given me, for all the pains and insults which Thou hast borne for me. O most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother, may I know Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, follow Thee more nearly, day by day. Amen.