Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Friendship of God

 “Who brought you to Jesus?”

A few weeks ago my pastor stood on stage as he posed this question.

I found myself in a reflective mood, scribbling notes on the back of my bulletin with my royal blue Sharpie.  The thing is…I have no dramatic salvation story.

There was no compelling sermon, alter call, or recitation of The Sinner’s Prayer.  Yes, I have wonderful parents who loved me, prayed for me, and brought me to church.  I had great Sunday school teachers who taught me the Word of God. 

But for me, that wasn’t how it happened.  In fact, I’ve never met the two songwriters who brought me to Jesus; I’ve just stared at their picture on the back of their songbook, thanked God for them, and imagined myself shaking their hands in heaven, grateful for the work they’ve done on earth.

I used to spend hours as a kid in my bedroom.  And, because I was a child of the ‘80s, I would lie in front of my cassette player and listen to music, Christian music, over and over again.  There was one cassette, “Wee Sing Bible Songs,” that had taken scripture and put it to music.  One of those verses was Revelation 3:20.  This song boldly spoke of Jesus, someone who was knocking at the door, wanting to come in. 

So, one day, I stood at the threshold of my bedroom door, looking out in the hallway, and simply said, “Jesus, you can come in.”  In that moment, I just wanted Jesus to be my friend, to come into my room and play with me along with my stuffed animals, my books, and my music; To jump on my bed, to know about my life, to listen to my prayers.

I think Moses must have experienced this type of relationship when he went into the Tent of Meeting and talked to God face to face, like a friend, using plain, honest language, just like I did standing at my door all those years ago.  My heart aches for the rest of the Hebrews who had to stand at their own tents outside, uninvited, longing for that kind of friendship as they worshiped God.

I don’t know how old I was the day I asked Jesus to come into my life to be my friend, but I do remember so many beautiful moments that came afterwards…all those nights when I would lie in bed at four, legs pinned in place, completely immobilized, entombed in a white body cast while I recovered from an operation which improved my gait.  I’d sing all those songs to Jesus from my tapes as I fell asleep.

I remember in first grade being so lonely and without friends, walking down the hallway at Pinewood Elementary, spilling my heart out without mouthing a word, and realizing in that moment, God’s comforting presence and ongoing desire to be my friend. 

As an adult too, on my first day of college as a doctoral student, I walked down the steps in my own home, nervous and scared, crying out to God like a kid, “I need you to hold my hand today!”  I shook all the way to St. Paul, but when I found the courage to get out of my car and walk into the door, I was immediately greeted by someone who recognized me from church, and was going to teach my first class.  Then I exhaled, so grateful that God was meeting me once again at the threshold of another door. 

There are moments though, when I haven’t wanted to open my door, and walk out into the world.  The anticipation of the people and situations I’m about to encounter seem overwhelming, and I’m not always sure that I have something to offer that’s of any value.  It’s in those scary moments that I hear His gentle whisper, “I’m right here Jenny, I’m right here.”  The kindness in those moments almost brings me to tears, because I remember the decades of His constant friendship, and together we go through the door and out into the world.

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