Lately, the distance between my human life and the Divine Life of Christ seems insurmountable. I’m trying to love God and others, despite my weaknesses and failings. I desire more than anything to be a Saint. But in my daily struggles against the world, the flesh, and the devil, holiness and Heaven often seem unattainable and far away.
In truth, the distance between Heaven and me—between God and me—is insurmountable through human effort. It is a divide that can only be overcome through Christ’s work of restoration.
I envision Jesus in Heaven before His Father, and knowing fully the suffering He would endure in human form, He accepted this rescue mission: “Yes, I will go! Send Me down there, so I can bring Your daughter back here.”
And then I see Jesus the God-Man in agony in the Garden: "when he was in the Flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death" (Hebrews 5:7).
Jesus was in the flesh. He shared my humanity; He was tempted in all things like I am, yet He was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). In His human nature, frail like ours, as He faced humiliation, rejection, fear, and a torturous death. Jesus experienced how difficult and costly it can be to obey God. But He did obey. His prayer of absolute obedience and surrender—"Thy will be done," initiated the act of redemption which frees me from the curse of disobedience and opens the way to Heaven.
Jesus, in human flesh like mine, teaches me the secret to becoming a Saint and getting to Heaven. It is daily obedience to the Father—in the small decisions throughout my day, by choosing to love and surrender my will, and allowing God to test and perfect my obedience through suffering and difficult circumstances.
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21).
The "Jesus prayer" or "pilgrim's prayer" is powerful and popular in the Eastern Church but Roman Catholics pray it as well. Learn it and its history here.
Debra Herbeck, a Jewish convert to the Church, has worked extensively in youth and women’s ministry. She has directed Pine Hills Girls Camp for the past 33 years, is the founder and Director of the Be Love Revolution, speaks at retreats and conferences around the country, and leads youth mission trips to the garbage dump in Mexico City. She has written a number of books that can be found here. Debra and her husband Peter live in Ann Arbor, Michigan and are the parents of four children and five adorable grandchildren.