I. A Policeman:
Many years ago I was in the Royal Navy. I lived on a Naval housing estate where the families of men serving in the local area lived until they were posted to another area.
One day two Naval Policemen knocked on our door and my wife, Dorothy, answered it.
“Excuse me”, said the policeman, “We are looking for a man who used to live in the area”.
Dorothy looked intently at the card, with a photograph on it, which the policeman was holding out.
“Sorry” she said. “I’ve never seen this man before in my life.”
“Madam” he replied, “That is me. You are looking at my identity card”.
A good example of how each one of us is prone to look, but without really seeing. For years, that’s how I was with Jesus. He stood before me and I just failed to recognize Him. I got saved, born again, came to Jesus, however you want to term it, much later in life than most. Looking back at the years before that life-changing event, I can see how, again and again, Jesus Christ presented Himself to me.
He came in many ways. Sometimes through the direct witness of Christians, sometimes in moments when my spirit was stirred by something that I was seeing or hearing, and sometimes just a nudge to my soul, a fleeting moment of recognition of my true state, of the eternal consequences of who I was. I just didn’t see Him.
God’s desire is that none of those he is calling should perish. (2 Peter. 3:9). Jesus didn’t come to judge mankind but to save us. (John 3:17). He died for us while we were yet sinners. (Rom. 5:8). He stands knocking at the door of our hearts (Rev. 3:20) until we, by our own decision, open up and let Him in.
Our mission, should we decide to accept it, is to help others see and recognize who it is that is knocking at their door.
2. A Wooden Indian
Many years later I was living in New Jersey and took the opportunity to visit Niagara Falls. Having seen the falls from the American side we went over to Canada where the waterfall looked so much more impressive.
We did all the touristy things, took lots of photographs and then went to look at the shops. Like most women, this was the part that Dorothy really liked. On the other hand I, and my eleven-year-old son Andrew, found it all rather boring. So we walked on ahead up the street leaving Dorothy to catch us up in her own good time. We came to a store with carved wooden figures, mostly of Native Americans outside (n.b. For my readers, it is no longer pc to say Indians). I went in leaving Andrew, now thoroughly bored and vexed, standing outside. He stood on the step, arms folded, glaring fixedly down the street willing his mother to hurry up and join us.
An African-American family came by and their son, aged about five or six, stood staring at Andrew. He thought Andrew was another of the carved figures. Suddenly aware of the little boy’s presence, Andrew turned and looked down at him. The little boy nearly jumped out of his shoes. “He real! He real!” he cried, rushing to his mother’s arms for safety. We all laughed and calmed him down.
Again I see a parallel with the Christian life. Jesus is there, but to many he is not ‘real’. Many have ‘accepted Jesus as their Savior,” and focus their lives around the church. They are actively engaged in the friendship and home Bible study groups, their church evangelism and outreach activities, and so on. He is there with them but He is like a dormant presence, without life.
It seems that His presence is often more symbolic than actual. Jesus seems to be more about an accepted statement of faith, rather than a realized actual presence walking with us in the business of day-to-day living.
However, and all praise to God for it, there will come a time of crisis when this will change. It could be a crisis of health, for oneself or a loved one. It could be a crisis of faith, when the unanswered problems of life seem overwhelming. It could be any one of a thousand things that suddenly cause us to experience His living presence, the reality of the resurrected Christ. Its then that we cry out, “He’s real. He’s real” and fall to our knees in grateful thanksgiving. We are not alone. He is with us. He loves us. He will walk with us through the valley of defeat and bring us out into victory. He’s real.
However, we don’t have to wait for the crisis, the crunch time. He says that we are the children of God (Rom. 8:16). That He will come to dwell with us (John 14:23). He says that our old man is crucified with Him and that He now lives in us (Gal.2:20). When we accept by faith all that He has done and all that He says in His Word, then we too can join the millions of thankful Christians who can proclaim with joy ----
– “He’s real! He’s real!”