Give me Jesus. Easy enough to say from my air-conditioned home in Alabama suburbia. Three healthy kids walk my halls. My husband of eighteen years shares my bed. My car cranks right up when I need to go to work. I walk fearlessly into my church every Sunday.
In light of recent heart-breaking events, I have to wonder: would I be able to say “give me Jesus” if all of this were taken away?
The sweet child pulled from his father’s arms while playing on the Orlando shore is the very same age as my Barrett. A friend’s child will head to the OR for heart surgery next week; he is the same age as my Sarah Kate. One of my husband’s classmates received his heavenly healing from cancer last week, leaving behind a wife and four kids. Mothers sit in humid houses just a few short miles down the road from me with no food to feed their babies because they can’t find work. Believers on the other side of the globe face possible execution after their church service Sunday because they dare to declare, “Give me Jesus.”
“Give Me Jesus” is an old African-American spiritual birthed in fields manned by slaves. Men and women stripped of basic human rights sang out underneath the blistering sun and the slave driver’s whip. Looking back at traditional and modern versions of the hymn, five verses emerge, communicating hope despite the cruelty of slave labor, the pain of loss, and the certainty of death.
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In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus.
When I am alone, give me Jesus.
Dark midnight when I cry, “Give me Jesus.”
I heard my mother say, “Give me Jesus.”
When I come to die, give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world.
Give me Jesus.
I recently read The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom. Grissom captures the unimaginable suffering of slaves. Under those conditions, I cannot fathom being able to whisper this hymn, much less sing it with conviction. The book i am n: Inspiring Stories of Christians Facing Islamic Extremists shares the inspiring and challenging stories of fifty Christians facing Islamic extremists. Their stories show me how small my faith is and how fragile my Christian confidence can be.
What can we do to make this three-word prayer our anthem? Exchange our possessions and safety for poverty and danger? That constitutes an external change. What we need is an internal shift.
In the morning when I rise…
In the morning, before the chaos of parenting and the clicks on social media, give me Jesus. For me, this means waking up early and making time in prayer and God’s Word a priority.
When I am alone…
When I feel all alone, give me Jesus. I don’t need to lean on finely filtered photos or clever timeline posts for affirmation. Those warm fuzzies fade quickly. My peace of mind, my value, and my hope must be wrapped up in my relationship with Christ. Our connection is unshakable and eternal.
Dark midnight when I cry…
When dark times come—and they will come—I may be tempted to turn from my faith, to question God and His goodness. May these present times of blessing hold me and keep me in the darkness. Remembering God’s faithfulness can fuel my faith and bring me hope.
I heard my mother say…
As this prayer for more of Jesus passes over the lips of others in the trenches, I am strengthened. When you call out to Jesus, we are all encouraged by your faith. Keep holding onto Jesus and telling your stories.
When I come to die…
The hope of the resurrection holds my gaze on Christ. After Jesus’ resurrection, no authority on earth could squelch the disciples’ hope. Death lost its sting. Fear had no grip on them. Their loyalty ran deep after the crucifixion; their hope in eternal life after death made them fearless. I so easily forget both my loyalty and my reason to hope. I allow circumstances to dictate my emotions. If I go back to the cross and back to the empty tomb, I can say with generations past and with my brothers and sisters in the midst of persecution, “Give me Jesus.”
#FridayFive Link Up
This week’s prompt is Give me Jesus. How do you keep Jesus at the center of your life? Is there a time in your life when He was all you had to cling to? Maybe you would like to share your journey to faith in Christ. Friends, I eagerly await your words! Share in the comments or use the link up button below.
Next week, we will honor five leaders. Who will you choose to write about?
Read my full review of The Voice of the Martyr’s i am n: Inspiring Stories of Christians Facing Islamic Extremists at Hollywood Jesus.
Lisa Harper shares an inspiring look at the early church’s response to Stephen’s stoning on She Reads Truth.
Here’s the ironic thing about hardship: it tends to have the reverse effect on those of us who’ve put our hope in Jesus rather than in our circumstances. Instead of staying down when we’re walloped, God’s people tend to bounce back with more oomph. In fact, church history proves that opposition often works like Miracle Gro on the Body of Christ.
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Photo credit: Jeff Sheldon via Unsplash.