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  • Writer's pictureLori Jacumin

Just Jesus

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

I visited Kenya for the first time on a mission trip several years ago and the thing that impacted me the most during our time there was how happy and joy filled the people were. They had nothing compared to the conveniences we take for granted every day here in America, yet they possessed such an authentic joy. They all smiled and laughed and seemed so... alive!

A pastor's wife showed me her garden and home one day that consisted of 3 small rooms. She shared about her typical day as she shoo'd a chicken that had found it's way in and was sitting on a couch - a couch that by all appearances wouldn't be accepted by our local Goodwill store. She said that when she got home from work, the children's school uniforms and socks had to be washed and hung out to dry for school the next morning. There was no washer & dryer, no dishwasher, no stove. She would then start preparing dinner from scratch (yes, even the chicken) which was cooked in an outdoor fire pit area where food could be placed under the wood or coal, or in pots on top. She also fed family and neighbors around them that didn't have money for food. She never knew how many would show up for a meal. She cleaned up from dinner, washing everything by hand, slept for 4 or 5 hours, then woke up at 3:00am in order to get the fire started to begin preparing breakfast. This was the only meal many would have until dinner. She cleaned up from breakfast, the children left to school and she left to work a full time job. She was so incredibly happy and joy-filled as she told me about her life and showed me around. She was so proud of her humble dwelling and garden - not because of what it gave her, but because God gave her the ability to help everyone around her. She didn't want for anything. According to her mindset, she had everything she needed and more.

After living in a wealthy, affluent suburban area for over 23 years, we moved back to where we lived for a few years before we left to Seminary. It has always been a largely lower income, rural area. A majority of the people who live here don't have much compared to where we lived in Raleigh, yet so many seem to possess a joy and unapologetical faith that has been incredibly refreshing to my soul.

Someone crossed the street and approached me on the sidewalk in town shortly after we moved back. He knew Marty and wanted to welcome me back to the area. He began sharing about the sermon at his church on Sunday, how God was working in His life and about the people he was currently witnessing to. He told me how some weren't ready yet, but He knew God was at work - and he was so excited about it! Never once, in all the years that I spent in those big suburban churches, had I ever had someone intentionally approach me like that, outside the doors of church, to tell me about how excited they were about what God was doing in and through their life and share with me about the people they were witnessing to. I left that conversation feeling both energized and saddened at the same time. I had come face to face with something I didn't even realize I had been missing - someone sharing a genuine passion about what God was doing in their ordinary, everyday life. And he was excited enough about what God was doing that he crossed the street to tell me all about it. That energized me, but it also made me ask a tough question. Was I excited enough about what God was doing in and through my life that day to cross a street to share it with someone?

Please don't get me wrong, there was and is passion in the churches we led for all those years and there was and is passion in the lives of a lot of people there, but this was so different than anything I had experienced in a really long time. It wasn't a group effort. It wasn't in the context of a Bible Study or small group. This person wasn't excited about a ministry or Bible Study he was involved in or what God was doing through this program or that outreach effort he was involved in. All those things are wonderful and good, but the thing that impacted me was his excitement to tell me about what God was doing in and through HIS LIFE. It was like when someone returns from an international mission trip and they're excited about all they have seen God do through their obedience to go and tell. This person had that kind of passion and awe of what God was doing, but right here and now, in his every day life, in his small rural church, in the lives of those he was witnessing to as he went through his day. He had his faith and trust fully centered in Jesus.

Can you imagine how different our families, our churches, our communities, towns and cities would be if we all had that kind of passion about seeing God move in our day to day lives, excited to share Jesus with those around us as we went along our day - expecting to see God move! That passion and excitement is incredibly contagious and we need that in our lives! Unfortunately, too many of us are missing that in our lives!

I've thought a lot about the differences in genuine joy and passion for Christ that I've witnessed in people's lives over the years in the areas that we have ministered in and in the countries we have had the opportunity to do mission trips to - and the only defining difference I can come up with is that one has a lot more STUFF than the other. More money, more possessions, more education... you name it, they have more - and with more comes an abundance of things to place our faith and trust in.

Miriam Webster defines disillusioned as having lost faith or trust in something formerly regarded as good or valuable.

There are far too many of us walking around disillusioned because we've followed the world and chosen to place our faith and trust in imperfect people and temporal things that could be gone in an instant. The things of this world can never give us the kind of personal joy, purpose and passion that we can only find through a relationship with Jesus. As God's Word tells us, "some trust in chariots and some in horses" (although it may be portfolios and smart phones today) and some "trust in the name of the LORD our God." Psalm 20:7 Each of us choose who or what we will place our faith and trust in. We have that choice before us every day.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

I was behind a woman in the grocery store yesterday who was in her own personal electric scooter, not a store owned one - so it was immediately obvious to me that she had difficulty walking. I don't believe she ever turned to fully look at me during our dialogue, but she was obviously aware that I had turned the corner and was behind her, because she apologized and asked if she was in my way. I told her she wasn't as I proceeded to grab what I needed from the shelf behind her. She told me that she was looking for the cheapest loaf of bread (as she looked at the price tags one by one), because she needed to be careful with her spending. I felt as though I needed to reply, so I told her that if the prices kept going up, a lot more people would be doing the same thing. She agreed and went on to tell me that her food stamps had been cut to $28, then she paused for a moment. I could see her begin to smile as she let out a sigh, then she continued, "But I don't have anything to complain about. The Lord always takes care of me." All I could manage to say was, "Amen," as she moved away from me down the aisle.

I felt sorry for her at the beginning of our brief interaction, but by the time she finished her last comment, I felt sorry for myself instead. I had just been preached a lesson on the real Bread of Life right there in the bread aisle of the Ingles supermarket, in the middle of rural NC, by a poor, disabled woman, in less than a minute and 3 sentences. I was given a life picture of Isaiah 26:3, "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you."

I had expected something different. Something very different. What I have experienced before would have led me to expect a complaint or a woe-is-me diatribe. And I got Jesus. Just Jesus.

As someone who had, by all appearances, every right to feel disillusioned by her circumstances, she seemed to be the furthest thing from it. She was joyful. It was evident that she was focused on what she had, rather than what she didn't have - just like all those beautiful souls I met in Kenya. She only had $28 to buy the groceries she needed, which to most would be practically nothing, but what she did have was so much more valuable - faith in her Savior, Jesus Christ. She trusted Him to continue providing for her needs. Boy would I like to hear her story.

I'm not going to ask how you would feel if you were in her shoes. I simply want to ask -

how do you feel in your own shoes?

Are you focused on what you have or what you don't have?

Are you thankful that your needs are being met or are you feeling disillusioned because you haven't been given what you want or expected?

Is your faith and trust grounded in Jesus Christ alone or is it in the things of this world?

What we choose to place our faith and trust in each day matters. It not only impacts our joy and peace in our day to day lives, it impacts the lives of those around us. It determines what we are modeling to our children and grandchildren. It impacts our priorities, our relationships, the choices we make, and ultimately our witness.

So often in this world and the culture in which we now live, we place our faith in people, relationships, education, success, money, possessions - so many temporal things that can end up disappointing us. We can even put our faith and trust in our picture of what we think a perfect life should look like. Chasing an illusion that can never be achieved.

And please hear me. I don't believe having money and STUFF is wrong or sinful. I believe everything comes down to the heart - and God knows and sees our hearts. He knows if things or people are being placed before Him in our lives. It is what I like to call a heart issue.

I've come to believe through my own experience and what I've witnessed in ministry over the years that the more we have, the more we need to evaluate what we're placing our faith and trust in each day. It's easy to begin trusting in our "chariots and horses," especially if we are not seeking to live fully for Christ each day.

If you're unsure, try living a couple of days without that thing and see where your heart goes. I know that going without my cell phone for 48 hours while it was being replaced was a huge eye opener for me. I had no idea how much trust I had placed in it for my daily sense of wellbeing. I felt a lot of emotions in that 48 hours that were a bit unsettling to me. It showed me how easily I can place my faith and trust in everyday things and even modern conveniences.

Where is your joy and your passion focused today? Is it centered in anything other than your relationship with your Savior?

I'll leave you with some wonderful verses that you can personalize and claim for yourself today - and each day moving forward as you choose to center your trust and faith in Him, unhindered.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. Psalm 28:7
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6
Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! Psalm 40:4
Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf. Proverbs 11:28


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