When the days are strung together with frayed and worn out fibers, I want to unravel the whole mess and try to figure out what went wrong. Grab it and untangle the knots much like a tangled mess of necklaces.
Mid to late April brought news that the well known writer/speaker, Rachel Held Evans, was having serious health issues and had been put into a medically induced coma in an effort to give her body time to heal from multiple seizures — an unexpected reaction to a recent treatment for an infection.
It didn’t fix her. May 4, 2019 would be her last day here on earth. She left behind a husband and 2 small children. Even though I had never met her, I was absolutely heartbroken in a way that I couldn’t even explain. Her voice was needed in our faith community and maybe just as much–if not more so– in the community of those who consider themselves outside the walls of any church.
Just a few days later we ushered in Mother’s Day and somehow that square on the calendar brought another layer of introspection and sadness instead of family pictures in front of rose gardens.
More tangles showed up in the lives of others around me until it began to seem like a good idea to close up shop and set aside a day or two just to cry it all out. The pain and suffering in the world can get overwhelming.
Then came Tommy’s words on Wednesday.
We call him Pastor Tommy now. He’s in one of our weekly devotional groups and although he tells us he can’t read or write, he’s written volumes on our hearts and minds.
We were discussing the passage in Luke about being watchful and ready for Jesus when He returns. As our discussion broadened, many shared their thoughts on what they would do if they thought this was “the day” Jesus would come back. What would being “watchful” and “preparing” for his return look like in real life …real time.
35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
Phrases shared around the table served up a feast of the usual “things Christians say” like …”read your Bible” …”pray” … “confess any sins” …”tell others about Jesus.”
I kept pressing them for more than just the typical church answers. Let’s be honest, would you really just sit and read your Bible and pray on your last day on earth?
My mind wandered down the path with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and those walks they’d have with Jesus in the cool of the evening.
If Jesus’ presence is real in our lives, wouldn’t every day be like taking another walk with Him until one day we walk right home? Wouldn’t talking with Him (as some might say, praying) and introducing Him to others as we walk along the road be somewhat of a normal “day in the life of a friend of Jesus” scenario?
And then the question served up of how does it look to “tell others about Jesus” as you go about your day? Do you hand them the 4 spiritual laws? The Romans Road? the Apostle’s Creed? Printed tract?
Then Tommy began to speak …
He talked about the story in the Bible of Jesus and the children and how Jesus held the children. He said it’s just like that. One child telling another child, “Jesus held me yesterday!” and then that second child going to Jesus and being “held” and telling others the same story — “Jesus held me too!”
And I wonder if this isn’t the best way to describe the reality of the gospel message — “Jesus held me yesterday!” What if the best thing we can offer others is that they can share in the same story of being held by the tender loving hands of a Father who won’t ever let go?
And isn’t it also the best way to describe a hope for the tangled messes and deep sadness we experience in this world …”Jesus held me yesterday and He can hold you too!”
“Jesus, thank You for holding Rachel Held Evans as she was passed from here to heaven. Thanks for holding us as we grieved her loss and our own family losses. May we keep sharing our stories with others of being held by You so they, too, can be held.