Intimate Encounters with Jesus of Nazareth
(Has there ever been a time in your life when you’ve wanted to quit? Have you ever reached the point when it seems as if Jesus has left you leaving you feeling empty? Have you ever reached the point when the struggles and adversities of life have been so real they’ve overpowered the reality of your faith? If you’ve answered yes or even if the possibility exists that you have then please read on.)
This morning as I turned on my coffee pot, turned on my desktop computer, dressed myself, combed my hair, sent out the days Glory Seed, grabbed my laptop, got in our mini-van and headed for the Mall. It wouldn’t be to long and I would be heading for my sacred spot at the mouth of the Saint Clair River. But ever since winter began I decided to try spending my morning sacred time with God in the warm surroundings at the mall about half a mile from my house.
While I’d spent many mornings this seemed different I couldn’t pin it down but it didn’t seem the same as other mornings. Minutes later I discovered the reason because for some reason I could not connect with Jesus. Even now as I write these words he seems so far away. Deep in my spirit, I know that not to be true but the portion of me that connects with him was empty. I wish I could say that it was the first time but it’s not.
Looking back at those experiences of emptiness, I am beginning to see a commonality with them, each time I try to write I come up empty. Whether it’s a Glory Seed, an article for NSM, my own website, a book for my own Lulu.com Book Store Jesus seems to have left me alone to myself.
That morning as I opened up the file containing a story about Crusty the Christian I was writing all I could come up with was a blank it was as if the file loaded but my computer screen was blank. Suddenly I began seeing my career as an author coming to an end. I know I said suddenly but then that’s not entirely true because it’s really been slowly coming to that point for sometime now. I was at the point where I was seriously considering quitting.
Suddenly out of the corner of my I caught sight of someone heading directly toward my table. He probably would not have drawn my attention had it not been for the wording on the sweatshirt he had on, “Here I come ready or not.” The minute our eyes met he broke out in a huge smile and waved, “Hi Gary,” he called out in a loud voice, “here I come ready or not!”
Somehow I immediately knew it was Jesus. I know that sounds unreal after all Jesus in a shopping mall talking to a no body like me? Call it intuition or a message from the Holy Spirit but I knew who he was and I found myself feeling guilty for some of the things I had said or had been thinking. As I watched approaching I felt my face changing colors. I am not sure what color it ended up being but I can tell you it felt like a 20 degree below zero wind was blowing in my face. “Weren’t ready for me were you?” He said, with an ear to ear grin.
After several seconds of trying to find my voice I found myself muttering, “I know I felt disconnected but I am not sure I am ready for this!”
It never ceases to amaze me how Jesus can appear at the times in my life when I am on the verge of dumping it into a hole and burying it. I’ve never gotten to the point where I needed to figure out what to do after dumping it but I am sure I could find some frivolous activity to pour myself into.
Sitting in the silence not trying to look into his eyes I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like for him to make a grand entrance during the times when I was on the mountain top. Suddenly he said to me, “You don’t need me when on a mountain top.”
Before I could say anything, “Why do you want to quit doing what we do so well together?”
After several seconds of silence, “You mean what you do so well through me don’t you?” I wasn’t sure where my response came from but I hung my head even lower. Placing his hand under my chin and pushing upward until our eyes met, “I meant what I said. Now you tell me what you meant.”
I wanted to say, “you tell me what I meant after all you know me better than I know myself.” But I didn’t instead I weakly replied, “Lately it seems as if you have left me to write by myself and you know because of my lack of formal education in creative writing or any form of writing I am a big fat zero. The last several weeks when I sit at my computer and try writing it’s like I am sitting on ice spinning my wheels the speedometer says I am going sixty but I am standing still. So you tell me what’s the sense in trying to do something I am not able to do?” Immediately felt ashamed of what I’d said so I tried lowering my head again but the harder I tried the stronger his grip on me became.
Without giving him a chance to say anything in return, “Now I suppose you are going to tell me all about how I sound like Elijah when he thought you’d deserted him and how you gave him something to do and he was alright after that.”
Breaking out in a huge ear to ear smile he replied, “That is a good story I should have thought about telling you about it from my perspective but I don’t want to tell you someone else’s story I want to tell you about my own experience with giving up because of the terrible feeling emptiness and utter aloneness that comes with giving up.”
“But, to my knowledge you never gave up,” I replied, “so how can you know how I feel?”
“I’m sorry I’m the one to break the news to you, Gary but I did give up and it’s an absolute must that you understand that I did. It is because I gave up that will give you the power and courage you need to not give up.”
Almost instantly I was no longer sitting in the mall with a computer screen in front of me I was standing on a rocky hill looking at the same man I was sitting with only now he was hanging on a wooden cross and across his shirt were the words, “It was for your LIFE I DIED.”
Suddenly booming across the sky, “Father, the time has come for me to quit because I have finished my work in Gary’s life and as you accept my spirit send our Spirit into his life to be with him throughout the remainder his life.”
With tears streaming down my face I watched as his eyes slowly closed for the last time and then as his chest suddenly expanded one last time I witnessed Jesus’ death. As I write these words I know I’ll never be able to come close to how powerful it was for me but it was life changing. It was like I actually there 2000 years ago but the entire reenactment was only for me. I’ve seen many movie reenactments of Jesus’ crucifixion and as I’ve watched them I’ve always found myself distressed because in my heart I knew how true the words on his shirt were. However, this time was different and as I began wiping the tears from my eyes all of a sudden the doorway to my imagination closed and once again I was sitting in the mall with Jesus but now the words on his shirt read, “It is for your LIFE I LIVE!”
In a soft yet powerful voice Jesus asked me, “Do you understand now what I meant about giving up, Gary?”
The experience had been so powerful that it took me several minutes before I could gather my thoughts. “I’ll never be able to fully understand, Jesus but this much I know you gave up your life so I wouldn’t have to give up any more when seems as if you are far away but, does it this mean I’ll never feel deserted again?”
“What do you think, Gary?”
“In all honesty I think there will still be times when I feel that way. But when it does happen to me what can I do?”
Standing as if he was preparing to leave he replied, “Two things, Gary. Believe in the shirt and follow the Spirit on the journey of patience.” What he did next completely took me by surprise. He took off the shirt and gave it to me then disappeared.
Unfolding the shirt on the front was a picture of Jesus standing facing me with his arms outstretched with the image of a church in the background and over top of the picture was the words “It is for your LIFE I LIVE!”
Then deep in my spirit I heard him speak to me again, “Gary, sometimes your voice is more powerful from the depths of despair than on the top of a mountain. Do not worry nor fret because the Spirit will be with you and bless you always!”
Instantly I found myself typing in bold letters THANK YOU JESUS, THANK YOU!