Our Intimate Savior

Our family has spent the past two summers camping on the weekends. We have a small camper we park at a campground about 45 minutes from home. It’s on a small lake, and we have enjoyed this time together. Last summer, on this particular Friday night, I wasn’t thinking about Jim (my favorite neighbor, at the end of his battle with ALS). My thoughts were about packing groceries and clothes for the weekend, what to make for supper, and all the other “settling in” activities. Nighttime came, and we put on our jammies and got ready for bed.

As I pulled the covers back, my husband said the neighborhood was texting questions about an ambulance at the end of Jim and Mary’s driveway. I knew right away. No sooner had I said, “Jim must have passed,” than I saw Mary was calling me, and she confirmed Jim had died. She asked me to come sit with her. I couldn’t tell her I was at the campground. She would have told me not to come. So, I said I wasn’t home, but would be there in a few minutes.

As I pulled from the campground onto the dark country highway, I prayed for God to get me there fast without hitting any deer. My thoughts bounced between Mary and Jim. I thought about what Mary was experiencing. I thought about Jim and how much I was going to miss him. I thought about our last conversation and fought back tears as I raced through the night to his sweet Mary. Oh, how glad I was to have the opportunity just a few days before to have a final conversation with Jim! To intentionally tell him with all my might how great of a neighbor he was to me! And, how amazing it was going to be for him to walk on golden streets and see the place Jesus had prepared for him!

A few minutes later (thirty), I walked up her driveway and into their home like I had so many times before. I took my usual spot in the living room and waited.

Jim and Mary were in their bedroom. Two relatives had arrived before me, and they kept going from the bedroom to where I was in the living room. I could hear them talking in the bedroom, but I didn’t want to intrude. When Mary called for me, I walked down the hallway and stood in their bedroom doorway. And just like that, I stepped into the most intimate scene of my life.

Jim was dressed in his pajamas, tucked into bed. Mary was sitting on the edge of the bed, holding his hand and softly crying. Her cry was like that of someone who has loved and been loved so deeply, and who knows her husband is now at peace. It was the most precious crying I’ve ever heard. Even now, months later, I can still hear it in my mind. The two relatives were standing at the head of the bed, talking about days gone by with Jim when they were children.

I stood in the doorway, looking at Mary, our eyes meeting from time to time. I was here just for her now. I felt the Lord beckoning me to take this all in. And I did. The dim lighting. The feelings, so thick in the atmosphere. The love, the love, the love. The peace. The sorrow. The grief. The deep respect.

Then Mary called for me to come and sit next to her. Crossing into this sacred space, my thoughts turned to Jesus when he was called to go into just such a situation for a little girl, from Mark 5:21-24 and 35-41, New Living Translation:

Jesus got into the boat again and went back to the other side of the lake, where a large crowd gathered around him on the shore. Then a leader of the local synagogue, whose name was Jairus, arrived. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet, pleading fervently with him. “My little daughter is dying,” he said. “Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live.”

(As Jesus was going with Jairus, he was approached by a woman who was healed of illness as she touched his robe, which you can read about here. As this interaction between Jesus and this woman is concluding, we pick this story back up at verse 35:)

While he was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.” But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.”

Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James). When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw much commotion and weeping and wailing. He went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.”

The crowd laughed at him. But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying. Holding her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!”

I thought about how many times Jesus walked into the most intimate moments of people’s lives during the three or so years he was going from town to town during his earthly ministry. Wide-eyed, stepping forward, I thought to myself, “This must be what it was like for Jesus” — how extraordinary and profoundly breathtaking and intimate, each setting must have seemed to him. I can’t find one word that adequately describes what I felt in that space, so deeply reverential.

I noticed how quickly Jim’s earthly shell didn’t quite resemble him anymore. When I looked at him, it was unquestionable that he was no longer with us. I wonder if this isn’t why people laughed at Jesus when he said the little girl wasn’t dead. It must have been obvious to all this little girl was dead.

I sat with Mary on the edge of the bed with her beloved Jim for some time. Then, quietly slipped out when I noticed sufficient family had arrived to care for her. All the way back to the camper, I thought deeply about what an honor it was to be called to come to her side. Such a privilege to be considered trusted and worthy to participate with her in this moment.

He isn’t a closed-ended story; this Jesus of ours. He is still answering calls, crossing thresholds, and stepping into deeply personal moments in people’s lives. He stands at the door of our hearts, our homes, our crisis, our everything, and he knocks. Jesus says,

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (Revelation 3:20, New Living Translation)

Where are you? Have you invited Jesus into the intimacy of your life? Have you talked to him today? Where are you? Don’t stand in your hurts alone. Jesus stands in your doorway and he has taken it all in. All the details. The atmosphere. The feelings. The love, the love, the love. The grief. The sorrow. He already knows you. He’s an intimate Savior who’s been following your story closely. Hear his voice calling you. Invite him in.

Oh Jesus, how I need you! Come into my life and help me. Come in as my Intimate Savior and lead me through this life.

Let me know if you invited Jesus in, will you? Email me at howdy@thephilippians4project.org, or put it in the comments below.

God bless you, friend.

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