Tuesday, April 10, 2012

He called me by name!

I have a 91 year old brother, Mel, a wonderful Christian and example to me all of my life… who is apparently dying in Seattle right now.  I cannot go to see him.  The distance is too great.  His wife and extended family are gathering to see him off to his new home in glory.  I confess that I am hurting… partly because I miss Frances so much… and partly because I cannot be with my brother and family at this time. 

How thankful I am for the resurrection of Christ and the hope of heaven! 
(Click on Photos to enlarge)

This morning I did a brief devotional for a small group of teachers at the Martinez Christian School where I am temporarily staying.  I took just one marvelous word from the text in John 20.  Mary Magdalene was weeping in front of the tomb.  She was confused and heart-broken.  Not only had they killed the One who had lifted her out of a pit filled with demons, but now they had stolen his dead body from the tomb!  Then came just one word that turned her darkness into daylight, her hopelessness into joy and the dead silence of that early morning into music… “Mary!”  Wheeling around she cried out, “Raboni!”

That’s my resurrected Jesus!   The Good Shepherd calls His sheep by name!  (John 10:3) 
Years ago during a School of Missions in Springfield, I had a wonderful private experience with Jesus.   He called me by name.  Frances would be arriving in a couple of days.  After a powerful morning chapel I chose to skip lunch and returned to my room.   I was on my knees beside the bed when a light brighter than the noon-day sun filled the room.  I did not open my eyes, but could see the light through my closed eyelids.  I felt Jesus enter the room from the window.  He sat down on the bed beside me and began talking to me.  I answered him and the two of us were quickly locked in unique, intimate conversation, just Jesus and me.   I am not a mystic.  I have never been one to hear voices or see visions.  But there I was… carrying on a two way conversation with Jesus.  It was awesome!  A one-time-ever-experience!  I had a notebook right there and actually wrote down some of the insightful things He was saying to me. 

Then it happened.  I heard Him say, “Ralph, I love you.”  I was so overcome I didn’t know how to answer.  I cried out, “Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you!  Thank you!”  Then came His astounding words, “Love cannot be answered by ‘Thank you’.  Love can only be answered by love.”  And now bursting with tears, I cried out, “Oh Lord Jesus, I do love You!  I love You!  I love You!”  

A knock at the door interrupted our conversation.  It was my good friend, Bruce Manning, missionary to Chile.  “Hey, man, how come you didn’t come to lunch?  Are you okay?”  I told him I had been praying.  Then he said, “Come on, let’s go to class.”  I replied, “Not yet.  The class doesn’t start until 2:30 PM.”  Bruce replied, “It’s 2:30!”  “No way!”  I looked at my watch and could not believe it.  I thought I may have been with Jesus in conversation 20 minutes at the most, but over two hours had passed!   

Later I realized what Jesus was saying.  Imagine two lovers locked in an embrace.  She looks into his eyes and says those wonderful words, “I love you.”  Then he answers, “Thank you very much!”  No, never!  His answer must be, “I love you, too.  Oh, how I love you!”  Jesus said it and I’ll never forget it.  “Love can only be answered with love!”

The school teachers were wiping tears from their eyes, some with mascara running down their cheeks.  Their uniformed students were waiting out in the huge foyer.  As the teachers left the lounge I heard a little boy ask his teacher, “Why are you crying?”  I didn’t hear her answer, but I think maybe someone heard Jesus calling them by name this morning.  “Mary!