May 23, 2021
On Staying in Touch with Jesus
confession is “good for the soul,” I will confess that since my wife died,
there are days when grief wins. The chilling absence of Dean in my life pushes
me toward depression and self-pity. In every waking moment I miss the joy of
sharing life with her.
I have been able to fight my way out of the darkness and pain of loneliness.
Jesus keeps saying, “Walter, I love you too much to let sorrow ruin the rest of
your life. I am going to help you be brave and courageous just like my Father
and I helped Moses and Joshua. So, don’t give up. Take my hand so I can help
you endure this sorrow. Walk with me and I will fill your emptiness with my
peace and restore your soul.” So, with his help, I am winning more times than
grief wins. I’m convinced the only way to beat grief is to stay in touch with
read the Bible a lot because it’s there that I meet Jesus. He is in the Old
Testament as well as the New Testament. When in the 23rd Psalm David
says, “The Lord is my shepherd,” that’s Jesus he’s talking about. The Lord
Jesus is my Shepherd, guiding me, molding me, comforting me and teaching me how
to serve Him. When the Psalmist says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up
their wounds” (Psalms 147:3), he’s talking about Jesus, because that is what He
does. Without Him, none of us can get through the valley of the shadow of
Jesus in church. He had me in tears last Sunday. My eyes were suddenly moist
when we began singing “Jesus is all the world to me.” Dean and I sang that song
at our son David’s funeral. I choked with joy when we came to the words, “when
I am sad, to him I go, no other one can cheer me so.”
I had to stop singing and just
listen with a thankful heart as the people sang the final words, “I trust him
now, I’ll trust him when life’s fleeting days shall end. Beautiful life with
such a friend, beautiful life that has no end; eternal life, eternal joy, he’s
my friend.” My heart was pounding with joy as I thought, “Yes, Lord, Dean’s
beautiful life has not ended! She is with you, and while she can no longer
straighten my tie and tell me how handsome I am, she is still cheering me on to
victory in my battle with grief!
So far, my neighbors have not
called to complain, but I go around the house singing loudly songs about Jesus.
I am sure there are no roaches in my home now; weary of my loud voice, they
have surely crawled outside the house. There is usually no one here but me and
Jesus. And while I know Jesus is not hard of hearing, it seems to strengthen my
faith to boldly affirm my faith in song. So, if you slip up outside my window
one day, you may hear me shouting and singing songs like this one:
No one understands like Jesus,
He’s a friend beyond compare;
Meet Him at the throne of mercy,
He is waiting for you there.
No one understands like Jesus.
When the days are dark and grim;
No one is so near, so dear as Jesus.
Cast your every care on Him.
I often meet Jesus in a good
book. I own two acres of land, one house and one car – and a lot of books.
Books are some of my most treasured possessions. The Lord led me to pick up an
old one last week, one I gave Dean on a day in May 41 years ago. I love to see
notes she made in books. She made several in this book, A Gift for God
by Mother Teresa. I found Jesus speaking to me on every page in that book; He
was gently correcting my perspective on suffering, especially my suffering.
The world discovered Mother
Teresa while she was caring for the poor and dying in Calcutta, India. Dean and
I once visited Calcutta and never got over seeing the dead and dying on the
dirty streets there. In the early days of her work in Calcutta, Mother Teresa
was stricken with a high fever and became delirious. Later she wrote about it.
“In that delirium,” she said, “I went to St. Peter, but he would not let me in,
saying ‘There are no slums in heaven.’” In anger, she said, “Very well, I will
fill heaven with slum people, then you will be forced to let me in!”
It rather surprised me to
learn that Mother Teresa had a delightful sense of humor. Indeed, she insisted
that the houses of her Missionaries of Charity (now 4,500 strong!) ring with
laughter just as St. Francis and his friars once laughed their way down the
highways serving Jesus. Peace begins with a smile, she often said.
When a friend who was seriously
ill asked Mother Teresa for prayers, she replied: “Your name is up on the wall,
and the whole house will pray for you, including me. St. Peter will be
surprised at the avalanche of prayer for you, and will, I am sure, make you
well soon. Maybe, though, you are ready to go ‘home’ to God. If so, he will be
very happy to open the door for you and let you in for all eternity.” Then she
added, surely with a twinkle in her eye, “If you go home before me, give Jesus
and his mother my love.”
In her little book Mother
Teresa reminded me that I meet Jesus in the poor. In the poor we are touching Christ’s body. Her
words began to chase away my lingering sadness: “In the poor it is the hungry
Christ we are feeding, it is the naked Christ we are clothing, it is to the
homeless Christ that we are giving shelter.” I thought, “In my remaining days I
can wallow in depression or I can get up and offer love to the poor and in so
doing, offer Christ my love.”
These words, however, Jesus
used to loosen the grip of grief on my soul: “The best way to show our
gratitude to God and to people is to accept everything with joy, for joy is
strength and joy is love. A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning
with love. Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the
joy of the risen Christ.”
Mother Teresa. Thank you Jesus. I believe I see
the way home now. And with your help, and the prayers of my friends, I will not
be taking another drink from the well of bitterness and remorse. The sweet
water of your understanding and forgiveness is all I need. + + +