This is the third post in our series “Discovering God, Discovering Womanhood, Discovering Me,” written to help women learn more their relationship with God as they delve into what it means to be a woman of faith. To read the second post, click here.

“You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

In that moment, there was a simple message. There was someone coming, and this someone would be a Savior. The name of Jesus and His mission, to save His people, are inextricably linked.

When I thought of Jesus, I didn’t immediately think “my Savior,” but I thought of something else, a vague image of a man wearing sandals or bracelets that said WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?). I had no real concept of how much depth Jesus’ own name meant, and what it meant for me.  

How often do we shy away from the name of Jesus for fear of sounding irrelevant, for sounding “too radical,” or out of touch?

The name of Jesus means “God saves.” But the name has been separated from the personal action of Jesus saving us, and it is immediately associated with a culture, a label, or even a set of rules. I was caught up in the rhetoric and the lingo that came along with “being a Christian,” while forgetting that the foundation of “being a Christian” comes from first belonging to Christ.

I needed to break down the walls I had up that were holding me back by this superficial idea of Jesus—a “nice guy,” someone who was talked about a lot but I really didn’t know personally. I needed to really know Him. How else could I be a self-proclaimed Christian without knowing the One to whom I belong?

I’ve had a difficult time translating the universal and magnificent qualities about God to also be personal and uniquely for me. It didn’t seem possible rationally in my head, but what I eventually realized is that it was more of a matter for my heart to work through.

Ultimately at the core, I didn’t believe that Jesus really wanted to know me.

Wasn’t I always the one who didn’t trust Him enough? Wasn’t I the one who quickly forgot all that He’s done for me?

Yes. I was. I am.

It’s exactly because I am the forgetful one, the one who lacks trust, the one who has a hard time believing Jesus really is who He says He is, that He wants me (Luke 5:32).

It is in His nature, in His name that He is Savior. It’s a gift I do not deserve, because it’s not of me, but of Him. His name. His heart.

The heart and compassion of Christ our Savior was so difficult for me to understand, because I could only see my own lack of these virtues. Jesus understands that His message and mission can be difficult for us to understand, because it’s so different from our own understanding of compassion and love in our human nature, wounded by the effects of sin. So He teaches us, making a bridge between Him and us through stories and parables, examples in our own life and language.

I’ve always loved and identified with the teaching of Jesus being the Good Shepherd who rescues the lost sheep. It’s really the parable of my life.

The sheep grow up in the sheepfold, listening to the Shepherd’s voice. It’s described that He knows us, and we know Him (John 10:14). In the same way, I grew up in my Christian home, surrounded with opportunity to hear Jesus’ voice. But instead of learning to really know Him, and to believe that He really knew me, I wandered away from the sheepfold into other pastures that did not know me or who I belonged to. Whether I was looking to find comfort in relationships, in popularity on social media or relying on my own self-sufficiency, I couldn’t be properly taken care of by those who didn’t know my identity and belonging. I ended up becoming hurt and lost, unfulfilled in knowing that this “stuff” couldn’t satisfy me, but also not knowing the way out.

But the good news is that the Good Shepherd, Jesus, is also a savior. Our Savior. He came after me, without counting the cost: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it” (Luke 15:4)? And then, He does not look down on me, He does not reject me, but “When he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, and goes home” (Luke 15:5-6).

The last verse of Psalm 23 states, “I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.”

This is Jesus’ desire. To save us, free us, and take us home.

I wholeheartedly believe that we need to allow God’s personal love to win over our hearts and lives before we try to tackle the issues in our world, church, or Christian communities. When was the last time you surrendered yourself to God, and allowed Him to speak His words of love to your heart?

I know I get caught up in “playing Jesus” in prayer, interceding and praying for those around me, and as I’m about to say “Amen,” realize I haven’t allowed Him to tell me He loves me.

It’s the greatest gift we can give Jesus. We can affirm His name “God Saves” and ask Him to save us. To love us. To take us home.

Go deeper.

Take some time to think about the perceptions you have of Jesus, and invite Him to tell you who He is, and who He wants to be for you, personally. Pray through this song “Simple Gospel” and ask the Lord what you need to lay down to first know Him, and to know your belonging, in His house.

With love,
Merry

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[…] This is the fourth post in our series “Discovering God, Discovering Womanhood, Discovering Me,” written to help women learn more their relationship with God as they delve into what it means to be a woman of faith. To read the third post, click here. […]

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[…] young woman wrestling with issues of identity and intimacy as a Christ-follower today. Here’s her third installment. Her voice is one of many among college-aged women longing for something more, deeper, and more […]

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