Christ When My World Caves In
[Editor’s Note: When tragedy strikes, we all want something firm to hold onto. In this post, Chris Heinz shares how his deepened relationship with Christ is helping him through a recent tragedy.]
I’ve never been so thankful for my recent awakening to Christ as I am right now. I had already been a Christian for 30 years—a darn “good” Christian at that! I had led mission trips and spoken for Christian groups. I wrote a book on prayer. I had served as company chaplain, house church pastor, and guest preacher at church. No one would have said that I needed to awaken to Christ.
But that’s what happened. I began to seek Jesus for ALL he is—not just Jesus on the cross, but Jesus on the throne. Not just Jesus coming back some day, but Jesus alive today. Not just Jesus who wants to bless me, but Jesus who deserves to be blessed by me. I was awakened to not only Jesus the Savior but also to Jesus the King of kings.
As I began to seek ALL of him, I began to see MORE of him. I saw that Jesus is dazzling, stunning, much more than I had thought.
I wondered how often I had stopped short of seeing more of the fullness of Jesus because of my shallow contentment, like the person C.S. Lewis compares to “an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea” (The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses).
For years I had settled for the lesser Jesus, the tamer Jesus—the Jesus who wasn’t really Jesus at all because I had fabricated the Jesus I wanted him to be. But now the real Jesus was roaring like the Lion of Judah he is, and he wanted me to uncap him, unbridle him, let him out and let him be who he really is.
So I let the Lion of Judah out of the cage I had kept him in—the best move I have ever made. Yes, the best—and none too soon.
Finally, this was the Jesus I wanted to follow with all my heart and mind and soul—the one who was bringing all things under his feet. The one who could speak into any situation. The one with the grandest name and highest title that could be conferred by the Father in this age or the age to come. I wanted Jesus with his battle scars and booming voice and hugs like velvet.
But I didn’t want this Jesus just for myself; I wanted this Jesus for others too. Who could resist him? This is the Christ who is crucial when the world caves in. A christ who is cobbled together from flimsy hopes and mediocre dreams doesn’t hold a candle when your world caves in. He quickly crumbles beneath the pressure, and then what do you have? Only dust in your hands to wipe on your jeans.
My World Caves In
So last Saturday the world for some of us did cave in when Marie Homan suffered what doctors called a “catastrophic stroke.” She was rushed to the local hospital, and when the local hospital decided her condition was too serious to handle, she was rushed to a different hospital 100 miles away.
When I first heard the news, time stood still. I had to get my bearings. It couldn’t be Marie. Not Ben’s Marie. Not Marie the homeschooling mom of five. Not sweet, gracious, meek Marie who is full of hugs and smiles and prayers, and though tiny in size is a titan whose presence fills the room far beyond the frame given to her. Not Marie Homan.
But it was Marie Homan. One hundred miles away Marie was hooked up to machines keeping her alive. My wife and I made arrangements to visit the family, who were at that time in Marie’s hospital room, keeping watch, being with her. Just the day before they were enjoying a family Saturday together. Now machines were breathing for Marie.
Colette and I drove to the hospital, mostly wondering what to say and what to pray at a time like this. We arrived and entered Marie’s room. There was Marie—the tiny titan—lying in bed with tubes and hoses going inside and out. She was so still, so silent. This wasn’t like her. I wanted to hear Marie’s voice. She’d have something uplifting to say. Yes, she would know just the right thing to say.
When your world caves in, you need Christ to come and fill that space of despair with himself. And when he does, the fullness of God is there, because the Lord Jesus Christ is the fullness of God. Christ is the image of the invisible God. All of God resides in his singular frame.
In that room, we gathered around and grabbed hands and began to pray. Mostly we prayed to see more of Jesus in this heartbreaking situation. We thanked him for being there with us. We asked for more revelation of Christ and that he would fill the space of emptiness and helplessness we felt with all that he is. We prayed for the Holy Spirit to care for Marie. We thanked God that Jesus was so evident in Marie’s life. All our prayers basically flowed towards one focal point—the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.”
I wish I could say that with all this Christ talk, Marie opened her eyes and sat up. But she didn’t. The next day after her condition worsened and the machines were clearly doing all the living for her, Marie was unhooked from her equipment. She died 30 minutes later. Marie went home to be with Christ, and even in her death, Christ was so evident.
Picking Up the Pieces
Now we are left behind to pick up the pieces. How can we face life without the tiny titan? As the news has gone out, many people’s responses have had a common theme—Christ. So many people saw Jesus in Marie, and they experienced Jesus through Marie.
That’s why her presence in a room far exceeded the frame given to her. Christ in Marie was much larger than she. Marie had not crafted her own christ from leftover remnants and odds and ends. Had she done that, she wouldn’t have towered like she did. Instead, Marie followed Jesus Christ as he is; and because of this, Christ was formed in her.
She didn’t just carry the aroma of Christ, she was the aroma of Christ.
So we ask how will we carry on after such a devastating loss? By awakening to the Christ Marie knew so well—the Christ I’ve come to know through my own Christ Awakening.
So listen to me—seek Jesus for ALL he is so you can see much MORE of him. Seek him while you have today. Seek him while he may be found.
When you do, you’ll find that Jesus gives himself away so generously. He’s so full that when your world caves in, you’ll find he is all you need. You’ll have your fill and find there’s plenty to spare and even more to share. Jesus has eternity in his grip, so you can never get to the bottom of him. You dive in and just keep going deeper and deeper—forever.
When that thirst for Christ implants itself within you, you’ll pray to see more of Christ, to know more of Christ, to have more of Christ. You’ll ask for more of Christ to be revealed in you and for the Holy Spirit to care for you and to speak through you.
You’ll rise up like a tiny titan when the King of glory fills you. And others will praise God that Christ was so evident in you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chris Heinz
Chris Heinz is the Founder and CEO of Munyay, which creates coaching solutions to help you love your life and work. He’s also the Vice President of Human Resources for EnergyCAP, Inc. and is an ICF Certified Coach and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach. Chris enjoys coaching people, writing, and speaking on the topics of engagement, coaching, strengths, prayer, and the Christian life. He’s the author of the Made to Pray book and prayer assessment. Chris lives with his wife and three children in central Pennsylvania, where they play at their cabin-on-a-creek.