By Alex Florez
If you’re like me, you’ve experienced various levels of engagement with the person of Jesus throughout your journey of faith. At some moments, you feel awake to His presence in a way that captivates your heart, mind, and spirit with exquisite rapture. At other times, it’s as if you forget that He was ever with you in the first place. Most often, we fumble about somewhere in between the two extremes. We love Him, and we want to dedicate more of ourselves to His service. But life is just so busy and disorienting that we resort to lesser alternatives for consolation, empowerment, distraction, and enjoyment.
My tendency to relegate Jesus to a position of minimal importance is directly related to my sense of personal identity. When I become frustrated with my circumstances, I forget what it’s like to follow Jesus as if nothing else matters. Disappointment turns me inward, and I begin to believe that my notions of self-satisfaction and personal success are the metrics by which I ought to determine whether God is really with me or not.
When I get lost in myself, I forget who I truly am: a child of the King, one called to be a living temple of God’s Holy Spirit, one who cannot be separated from the love of God. And when I forget who I am, how easily I forget who Jesus is: Son of the Most High, the One who promises to stop at nothing to reclaim me as His own.
Mary Magdalene, too, found herself crushed in spirit, utterly disappointed, and completely lost when she saw Jesus draw His last breath. Her friend and the author of her newfound hope in God was gone.
Her disillusionment was so intense, so thorough, that when she stood face-to-face with the risen Jesus, she didn’t even recognize Him. Oh, how I relate to that moment! He has demonstrated His unbreakable faithfulness to me countless times, and yet I seem to forget what Jesus even looks like.
What calls Mary back to her senses is the very thing that I hold onto with great desperation. Jesus calls her by name, and suddenly she is reawakened to who Jesus is. Once she recognizes the sound of His voice uttering her name, she is called back to real life with exultant joy. When she recognizes Jesus, she remembers her own identity and purpose. Reinvigorated, she runs to share the good news. “Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord!’” (John 20:18).
I hold onto this story as if my life depends on it because I believe, in fact, that it really does. Jesus knows my name, and when He calls out to me day by day, minute by minute, He does so with intentional specificity. He calls me by name to remind me that He knows me, He sees me, and He calls me His own.