In Christ I’ve Found What I’m Looking For
[Editor’s Note: On April 23 we hosted a Christ Talks event in State College, PA, where 10 speakers shared their insights on the person of Christ from their unique perspectives. In her Christ Talk, JoAnn Foley-DiFiore shares her journey from worshipping New Age idols to worshipping King Jesus. You can watch the video or read the blog, which is based on the video of her Christ Talk.]
I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior just a mere five years ago at the ripe old age of 43. Before that the soundtrack of my life could have been U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”
In my twenties I was searching for meaning in my life after the death of my best friend, and an abusive relationship, and the beginning of a lifelong chronic illness. I remember feeling so lost and so despondent when I got the news about my friend’s death, and then a week later my boyfriend pushed me down a flight of stairs.
That was one of the low points of my life. What I needed was a savior.
Instead I spent more than 20 years immersed in various yoga and New Age practices looking for healing and looking for meaning. But I still didn’t find what I was looking for.
However, I was genuinely seeking, and the Lord says that if you seek him with your whole heart, he will be found!
So five years ago, Jesus made his move and he surrounded me with people who presented the gospel truth of who Jesus really is—not the TV version, not the fake version, but the pure, undiluted, full-strength Jesus. Through them, I met the true, countercultural love and forgiveness of Christ, the One that can change lives!
Jesus completely changed mine—he made something beautiful out of something so, so broken. I’ve been a daughter of the King ever since. That was my first Christ Awakening.
Last fall, I had another Christ Awakening while watching The Christ Institutes Video Series. I got a fresh, more expansive perspective of who Jesus is in three new ways.
Clearing My Idols
During that time, I kept having a vision of Jesus when he came into the Temple in Jerusalem and cleared the tables with the whip—not the nice, sweet Jesus we normally see portrayed.
First, it made me recall a time in my life when I had a little altar in my bedroom filled with various yogic saints and other New Age items.
But when King Jesus came to reign in my heart, I literally swept all of that away, and the only thing left on that table was a Bible that I got from my new church with a price tag marked “FREE” on it. Not only is God’s Word free, but I was also set FREE from my despondency and sin by his forgiveness and his profound love.
Jesus is still alive! He’s still working! He’s still changing lives like he changed mine! He’s doing that from his place in Heaven right now! I saw that he still has sovereignty and authority over all those other “paths,” and he wanted them cleared away.
Jesus Is Enough
Second, in the same way that I saw my own little altar was swept clean and only Jesus’ Bible remained, I think the same is true for our churches and the Body of Christ. The truth is that King Jesus doesn’t need anything added to who he is. Christ is the exact manifestation of God in all of his fullness.
In his Word and with his Spirit, Jesus has given us everything—all the teachings, the commands, and the power that we need to reach lost souls, like I was!
Just like clearing the tables in the Temple, I think Jesus wants his church to be a House of Prayer, not a place of confusion. I want to offer lost souls the pure, undiluted, “full strength” Jesus. If I offer them anything other than that, I’m not really offering them much.
Jesus’ Holy Temple
Finally, that vision applied to my own life as the temple of his Holy Spirit. Jesus wanted to clear unwanted cultural and societal idols from the table of my soul. He wants me to experience more and more of his countercultural love and experience more and more of who he truly is. I cannot do that if I am distracted by cultural norms and societal values.
When I see Christ clearing the table of my life, it looks a lot like the kitchen table in my house where stuff gets piled on it. Have you ever had a project and you just needed to clear a big space to work on it?
I feel like Jesus wanted to do that in my life—just clean it out! He is not putting things neatly away. He’s just throwing things to the side like garbage—it’s not pretty nor is it painless.
But my hope lies in letting Jesus cleanse those places, letting him get rid of the distractions, so that I can hear him and obey him. Then I get to share in his glory. It’s then that he empowers me to make those countercultural or “unpopular” decisions about work and home.
For example, in my job as a professor I left a tenured position in academia in favor of more time at home with my kids and more time available for my undergraduate students.
Another example was taking a step of faith and going on a mission trip to another country despite my chronic health conditions, not knowing if I was going to have the energy to go.
When I’m not distracted and my table is clear, I partake in Jesus’ suffering. There’s always a cost. Maybe it’s those sleepless nights of praying. Maybe it’s not feeling well. Maybe it’s making a hard choice and having to hear people’s responses to that.
But the benefit is that each time I get a grander vision of his sovereignty and his unbelievably limitless love that is above all of that. And I get to share in his work.
I’m so thankful King Jesus cleared the table of my soul, both literally and figuratively, so he can use me with no former idols and no cultural distractions there on my “table” any more, but just me, my Bible, and King Jesus himself.
The soundtrack of my life is no longer “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”
Now it’s the song that says, “In Christ Alone! My hope is found! He is my light, my strength, my song!”
I have found what I’m looking for and now I just keep seeking more and more of who he is so I can know Christ for all he is. I hope that you will join me!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: JoAnn Foley-DeFiore
JoAnn Foley-DeFiore is an Instructor in Penn State’s department of Biobehavioral Health. She is keenly interested in how culture and environment interact together to shape individual and group-level health. But even more importantly, she wants everyone to know and experience the love of Christ Jesus. Her favorite roles are those of wife and mom. She lives in State College, PA, with her husband Erik and their two teenage children.