Real Faith for a Real Life in a Real World.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Walk With Jesus

In Spring this year, I had a most marvellous experience, an encounter with Jesus such as I've never known before – or since, for that matter. I was out with the dog, a yellow Labrador retriever (somewhat more unruly than she still is) and coming down with a cold. The problem was, my Dad was soon to arrive and the last thing I wanted to do was to pass on an illness that he could well do without at his age and so far from home. 

So, I started to pray, 'Lord, please take this cold away; I desperately don't want Dad to get it.' There was a check in my mind and I went off in a different direction, as my mind sometimes takes me. 'I've never known you cure a common cold, Lord, so how on earth will you get me out of this body when I die and put me in a new one?' Yes, my mind is often that weird. Actually, it's a question I've pondered on a number of occasions, and never with a satisfactory answer. Will God upload me somehow just as my body's last outward breath kicks in, store me in some vast, heavenly data bank, then download me into a new, everlasting model? Or will the essence of me emerge into a new realm, like a leaf bursting from a germinating seed? Who knows?

Anyway, as I gazed down the wooded path that stretched out before me, my mind flipped again. What will it be like to meet Jesus? I imagined him walking down the path towards me. I thought I wouldn't look down as though ashamed to be in the presence of one so holy because there would be something very intimate and welcoming about our meeting. And suddenly it was as though he was actually there. In my mind's eye, I looked on Jesus in wonder, and he looked back at me, smiling. I became captivated by that imagined smile, and understood in some measure the wonderful extent of his acceptance of me. I felt no compulsion that I should throw myself to the ground and worship. I was in the presence of a friend who loved me, and who had turned out especially to welcome me. He was delighted to see me and I was thrilled to see him. (In my mind's eye, I said, this was not a vision of Jesus.)

Then there was another change. For the next 45 minutes or so, I walked on in the almost tangible presence of Jesus—not in heaven but here on earth, there on that wooded path. What began as a flight of fancy was now an encounter with Jesus, and I revelled in the company I was keeping. I bet we've all thought or said, 'When I meet Jesus I've got a whole load of questions I want to ask him.' I found myself pushing that idea away. I didn't want to ask him anything (even though I have a whole host of questions), I was just enjoying being with him, walking along beside him: him, me, and an unusually well-behaved dog. 

I've tried since to relive this experience, to invoke the same sense of presence, but I cannot. It seems to have been a one-off, special gift. Nevertheless, it helps me to understand the reality of his presence with me here and now, even when I am unmindful of it, and that I do not have to strive to get his attention. It enhances my sense of belonging to the family of God, and that I am welcome, any time. 

I'm looking forward to meeting him for real.