I’m not big on self-promotion, so instead I’m going to tell you some stories.
That work for you?
About 15 years ago, I reached a crossroads in my spirituality. You could call it hitting a wall. You could also call it a moment when it felt like scales were falling from my eyes so I could see clearly. If you’ve been reading here at Still Forming for very long, you know this as the moment I realized I didn’t understand my need for grace or Jesus.
I’d been raised in the church my whole life and believed I needed Jesus my whole life — even had a pretty intimate sense of Jesus’ presence for as long as I could remember being aware of his existence. But suddenly, at age 19, a junior college, I had a moment of reckoning: I didn’t undertsand why I needed Jesus — you know, in a deep, profound, life-real way.
That led to the most honest prayer I’d ever before prayed: “God, can you help me understand my need for Jesus? If I need Jesus, can you help me understand why — and what that even means?”
That honest prayer was followed by two years of darkness. It felt like I sat down on the floor of my life and refused to get up until God answered my prayer. All the things I used to do, I stopped doing. I think I was, in the process, testing God’s promise of unconditional love.
It was a really confusing time.
But stubborn as I was, I knew it was important. So I kept digging in my heels and refused to move until I got the answers I knew I needed.
About two years into this process, I had another one of those “scales falling from my eyes” moments. I can remember the day so clearly. I was sitting on the couch in my little one-bedroom apartment in Huntington Beach, CA, and sitting across from me on the coffee table was my Bible.
Like a flash, it occurred to me that if I wanted to understand why Jesus mattered to me, why I might somehow need him, I could let him teach me. I could read through the Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — and let the records we have of his actual life and words teach me what I needed to know.
So I did.
I picked up my Bible, turned to the first page of Matthew, and just started reading.
Over the course of the next 3-4 weeks, I had what I now refer to as an immersive reading experience. I slid into those pages of the Gospels as though reading a novel, complete with characters and scenes and a lone, heroic protagonist: Jesus.
He came alive to me in a new way during that time. It was like he stood up inside those pages and started walking around and doing things. He became a 3-dimensional person, complete with personality, will, opinions, and a body.
It completely changed my life.
Fast-forward about a decade, and I was in a session with my spiritual director, talking yet again about one of the ways Jesus was interacting with my life in that current moment, and I said, “I just wish more people could get to know Jesus in this same way. I wish they could read through the Gospels immersively, like I did all those years ago now, and see what happens for them — how he becomes a real person for them too. I wish I could create a way for others to try it.”
And she said, “Well, why don’t you? Why don’t you create something like that?”
So I did.
I took her up on that challenge and worked to create a 6-week course experience called Look at Jesus that I offered in 2011 and 2012. We read the Gospels immersively, and with a bit of a framework and guidance from me, we explored Jesus together.
The first time I taught the course, it was full of people all along the spectrum of experience when it comes to faith, church, the Bible, and Jesus — some people who had been raised their whole lives in the church, just like me, and were very familiar with the Scriptures and with Jesus, but others who were brand-new to the idea of Jesus and had never before read a single word in the Bible.
It was an incredible experience, ripe with interesting questions and kind dialogue and new experiences for many.
Then I taught the course again, this time to just one person, and I discovered what a sacred gift it is to walk with someone in their very personal experience of faith and Jesus, tailoring the experience to their questions and concerns and letting the process be a very personal, safe space for exploration and discovery. We lingered where she needed or wanted to linger. We followed some conversations threads I’d laid out, and we didn’t follow others. The process was simply what she needed it to be.
And at the end of those experiences, I realized something: This is it for me. I need to do this more.
So I’ve spent the last year and a half — year and a half! — revamping the Look at Jesus course experience into a one-on-one companionship experience that a person can take at their own pace and in company with me every step of the way. It’s the most in-depth process and experience I’ve ever created, and I’m incredibly proud of what it is. I have been beside myself in anticipation of inviting you into it for such a very long time.
And now it’s ready for you.
Would you like to spend time getting to know Jesus with me? I hope you will say yes.