I’ve recently asked many adults if they have a clear picture of Jesus in their mind whenever they hear His name or read about Him in Scripture. For the most part, adults have a hard time focusing on just one image. If you grew up as a good little church girl or boy you’ve probably seen a variety of Jesus pictures on flannel graph boards. (Yes, I’m that old!) You’ve seen Him in Bible story books, cartoons, videos, and on those slick colored pages in the middle of your pink or blue Children’s Bible.
Our eyes have been bombarded with so many Jesus renderings that our brains have a hard time storing just one clear image. What’s that you ask? Does having a clear picture of Jesus in our minds have any eternal significance? It does for me!
Can it help you find your joy again? Absolutely! It became the most important factor in helping me overcome my depression.
Just think about talking to your friend on the phone. Do you picture her big, wide smile stretching across her face whenever you give her some wonderful news? When you have to tell her something she doesn’t want to hear, can you imagine her eyes tearing up just by listening to her silence?
If you know me personally, I suppose you can picture me standing in front of you saying these words I’m typing right now. And so it is with Jesus. The better we know Him, the clearer our minds form images of Him. Conversely, the better our image of Him, the sweeter our relationship with Him becomes.
My high-definition Jesus picture formed, as I’ve said before, at the beach. It came when I needed it the most. I had promised Ron that I would go back to see my counselor if depression still had hold of me when we returned home from the sand and sun. He and my friend were in cahoots about making sure I got some help.
Every morning began on the balcony with the Word and some coffee. (The key to being able to picture Jesus is spending time with Him in the pages of Scripture.) After making my way to the beach, I slept, ate a little, and slept some more. I spent hours just sitting under an umbrella watching wave after wave roll in. I didn’t talk to anyone except Ron and Jesus. (I thank God every day for giving me a man who’s taken the time to know me well enough to stay close while letting me be quiet.)
After a couple of days, I put some praise music in my ears as I watched the waves. Then I finally picked up the Max Lucado books I’d brought along and read a while.
It was after one of those mid-afternoon naps that I woke up under the umbrella and saw my friend Jesus sitting on the beach. We had a nice conversation about several things and then He reassured me of His love for me. He embodied the Holy Spirit that I’d been used to hearing in my head. His physical presence made all the difference!
Just a few days ago, I returned to John 14 and found some confirmation for us being able to see Him that I had never noticed before. Jesus is reminding His disciples, and ultimately us, about His love for them and teaching them about the Holy Spirit that is coming after He returns to the Father. Beginning in verse 18, Jesus says,
“I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Because I live, you will live too. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, you are in me, and I am in you. The one who has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. And the one who loves me will be loved by my Father. I also will love him and will reveal myself to him.” (John 14:18-21, CSB)
When Jesus reveals Himself to you, He just might show up in your prayer time, whenever you sing praises, in your car, on your walks, and everywhere you go. Because you see Him so clearly, He clearly lets you know when He is pleased with you and when you have messed up. The more you trust Him, the more you learn to apologize quickly and thank Him profusely for His grace. The closer you two become, the more your love for Him will grow and the more you hate to hurt Him. Imagining your best friend Jesus on the cross will hurt your heart. Picturing Him coming back in a blaze of glory will thrill your soul!
Jesus’ sweet presence reminds me of the refrain of an old hymn I love, “I Come to the Garden Alone”. I couldn’t comprehend it until now!
“And He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own; and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”
Defeat your depression. Find your joy. Picture your Jesus.