Where This Meets That
During a visit to my grandparents as a young boy, I saw Jesus.
My grandparents lived in a brick ranch farmhouse in a small, “no traffic light” farm town in northern Mississippi. Their floors were hardwoods and their décor Victorian; to my young mind, this made for an “old” house, despite my grandparents having only built it in the 1950’s.
Above the beds in the home hung old portraits of people whom I did not know (and don’t know that I ever asked). These were the kind of old portraits that always seemed like their eyes were following you around the room, like in some classic Scooby Doo episode. As such, they sometimes made for an eerie primer for bedtime, since I would usually be the first one sent off to bed in the opposite corner of the home from where everyone else congregated in the evenings. I shared the room with my parents, but they wouldn’t follow to bed until later.
Bedtime on one particular night was especially memorable. I was probably 11 or 12 at the time, and it was the first night of our visit. We hadn’t even unpacked yet, having just tossed our luggage onto our beds on our arrival to do later, after we’d dined and socialized a bit.
After my standard bedtime routine, I climbed into bed and turned off the bedside lamp. The only remaining light in the room came from the nightlight on the other side of my parents’ bed. But to my stunned amazement, silhouetted against the nightlight’s glow was the profile of Jesus. He sat perfectly still and meditative with legs crossed on my parents’ bed.
And it scared me!
After a couple moments, I reached up and turned the bedside lamp back on. Light revealed an illusion: Jesus’s silhouette had only been my parents’ baggage piled on their bed just so. What a relief!
As my heart regained a more regular bedtime rate, I again turned off the light and chuckled at the uncanny illusion. But as my thoughts settled and I drifted towards sleep, I grew a little unnerved that my reaction to seeing what I thought was my Lord was fear. Not “fear” as a healthy respect but true fright.
Now, the Bible gives accounts of Jesus’s disciples being afraid at his appearance (Mark 6:5, Luke 24:37), but I took it to heart that I found myself afraid. I thought there was something askew with me that my response to “seeing him” was anything less than sheer joy. On some level, I recognized, even at that age, that I was fundamentally unprepared to meet God.
The memory of that feeling has always stuck with me. I have since had numerous other important experiences that I can’t so easily explain away by optical illusion, and many of those instances came upon me so naturally that I didn’t even recognize them until they were past.
Looking back now on that night at my grandparents’ home, I am both astounded that I was able to glean such deep meaning from the experience at that age and amused at how that message was delivered. I thought I saw Jesus, but it was really just a pile of baggage. Except that through that illusory pile of baggage, I attained a deep, lasting insight on myself and a desire to be a better person.
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Throughout my journey of life, God has blessed me with some very interesting encounters that have urged me along when I otherwise might have caved. Very truly, I owe him everything. Beginning with the above, I look very forward to sharing many of these experiences here in Le Blah-Blah-Blogue.