The words tumbled out casually amidst a flurry of conversation. She continued on, unaware that the simple phrase landed with a thud in my ears. After a few seconds, my curiosity refused to be silenced.
“I’m sorry,” I mumbled, awkwardly. “What was that you just said? Something about the Gospel in 5 words?”
I was meeting Heather for the first time last weekend in chilly Buffalo, New York, at the invitation of our publisher, Suzi, President of Bridge Logos. After soaking in an impacting night of teaching by Carol McLeod, the three of us headed back to the hotel to share stories in the hotel lobby until the wee hours of the morning.
Heather, a lawyer, eloquent speaker, and soon-to-be-author, spoke with fresh vulnerability as she painted a portrait of her life. Somewhere in the middle of her passion for advocacy and her pain from infertility, a simple phrase captivated my attention.
“The Gospel in 5 words?” she responded. “Oh, that’s what I call a phrase we’ve come to use a lot in my house.”
“How does the phrase go?” I asked.
“Jesus, help. I’ve got nothing.”
On Sunday afternoon, I couldn’t get it out of my head, so I texted my new friend, Heather, and asked if I could share her story in her own words. She graciously responded…
“As for the phrase, it started out as my long-beloved prayer: “Jesus, help.” I used it a TON in private practice and when I worked in politics…it was my go-to breath prayer because it was simple and clear and seemed to return me to an awareness of Jesus with me in the middle of intense stress and being overwhelmed. Brother Lawrence’s “Practice of the Presence of God” has been a big influence in my spiritual formation. I’m a recovering perfectionist (enneagram 1) so practicing dependency on God has been incredibly life-altering.
When my daughter was born, I learned a new degree of overwhelm with parenting and navigating an open adoption dynamic. At times, I was deeply aware that I “had nothing” to offer the situation, so I just surrendered in that place and started a new breath prayer: “Jesus, help – I’ve got nothing.”
At age 3, my daughter lost her beloved Pinky Baby doll, and with her hands in the air in grief yelled loudly, “Jesus, help! I’ve got nothing!” I belly laughed over the scene but soon was struck by how profound that moment was…in my desperate moments of need and dependency I was modeling for my daughter the greatest lesson and widest hope for her soul: the Gospel. In 5 words! My daughter will know that we bring nothing to God, that the best we bring to Him is the worst. We give God the highest honor when we agree with Him that we need Him, His help for our nothing, and simply receive it.”
I couldn’t help but think how often we complicate the Gospel; tangling up in theological differences or wringing our hands over cultural application. We muddy it. Confuse it. Water it down. Or even ignore it out of apathy and fear.
And yet, His Word is life. His Word offers a blueprint for traversing the uncertain terrain in front of us and a salve for the unrelenting past behind us. Jesus simply asks that we come to Him with child-like faith, placing our full trust in His capable hands.
And that is the profound truth wrapped in those simple words, “Jesus, help. I’ve got nothing.” With gut-wrenching honesty, we offer our frailty, our brokenness, and our confusion, and lay it at the Cross. And our overwhelm surrenders to the presence of a merciful Savior. Our pain intersects His power and the love of God meets us in our place of deepest need.
I don’t know what you’re facing right now. Many of us are walking through seasons of overwhelming. Might I lovingly encourage you to, with your hands in the air and in grief yell loudly, “Jesus, help? I’ve got nothing.” And listen for the still, small voice of a Savior who longs to show Himself strong on your behalf. I’m learning to lean hard into Jesus and make this simple phrase my go-to breath prayer. Would you join me?
You can subscribe to Heather’s blog at www.amotherofthousands.com
And check out my first book, available now: “Finding Joy When Life is Out of Focus: Philippians: A Study for Joy-Thirsty Women.”
Make Your Life Matter No Matter What
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on https://angeladonadio.com/the-m-ms-of-life-the-gospel-in-5-words/.