Where's Your Jesus Now?
That is the provocative title of a provocative book I just finished reading.
Stories of fear and faith, of danger and despair,
but ultimately stories of the goodness of God.
The presence of Christ in the darkest hours of life. In the deepest sadness.
It's a painful question sometimes, at least it is for me.
It's a question that seems preposterous in and of itself.
After all, who is Jesus? Who was Jesus?
What difference does He make to us, to me nowadays?
But it's a question that needs to be asked and answered:
"Where's your Jesus now?"
In one form or another, we all ask it.
Some of us might not put Jesus in that third word position.
We might put words like:
money, mortgage payment, job security,
husband, wife, lover, best friend, distant friend,
meditation practice, chanting, candle-light
crystal, stone, goddess, prophet, yogi?
When the storms of life roll through,
when the paychecks and royalty checks stop rolling through,
when the ones you used to be able to trust and rely on disappear,
when you are all alone, inside and outside,
where's your _________ now?
In the final pages of the book, the author, Karen Spears Zacharias, tells the story of a friend of hers who was ill and spent many months out of communication with Karen and others. In a dream she had at the time, Karen was a member of a rescue team going out to sea in search of a woman who was lost. "Twelve men, a long-bearded dude, and a Coast Guard captain" and Karen get into a rickety boat and set out upon a raging sea to search for and rescue the lost soul.
Okay, I thought, but I sure hope we find her soon before we all end up dead. I didn't say this aloud for fear of offending these men, but I was thinking loudly.
Suddenly the bearded dude turned to me and said,
"Don't worry. It doesn't matter how ill-equipped you think you are, as long as you stay in my presence there's peace. The storms of life will never overtake you." (page 204)
On the next page, she writes: I'm not suggesting that God spoke directly to me. I didn't hear any voices bellowing from a dark garage or see any glowing embers from the chariot of fire. It was more like an inspired video podcast of Isaiah 26:3: "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in you."
The message of that dream is something I have returned to again and again as I have witnessed the swell of fear threatening our world from all sides. And even now, when I am assailed by fears from within and without, I shimmy up the leg of God, and cry out for the safety of his embrace. It is there, in God's protective lap, that the panic that seizes me begins to ease off. Soon my tears turn to deep sighs, and then a calming rest comes over me.
I suspect that this new year, 2009, will be one of clinging to the hands and arms and shoulders of loved ones. Of accepting your offers of coffee breaks and long walks. Of reading your words here online and in the beautiful hand-written letters you send. Printing them out, trimming them down, and gluing them into my journal.
It will be a year of recognizing just how ill-equipped I am for most of what life brings and a year of shimmying up the leg of God and sitting in his lap. Of finding rest and peace in him. Of falling asleep in his arms. Of waking up with tears in my eyes, with clenched fists, and a whole host of unanswered questions tumbling in my heart and mind.
It will be a year of pulling out this book over and over again to remind myself that I'm not the only one who has asked this question of myself and of my faith.
Where is my Jesus now?