“What do you know of this Christ?” That is a fabulous question, isn’t it?
So what do I know of this Christ? I know of His kindness mostly, and how well He understands me, how patient He is. It’s a bit funny how a close encounter of the God-kind always leaves me at such a loss for words. I’m left helplessly saying simple things like, “God is so good!”
So, I encountered Jesus when I was 3 years old, sitting by a compost pile in the sunshine. I felt Him, smelled Him, and saw this bright, warm light. How did I know it was God? I have no idea, but I knew with absolute certainty that it was Him and that He was as real as the scab I was picking at on my leg. It helps to have been a child, running wide open with no guile, no skepticism, as if bumping into God is the most natural thing in the world.
He was so beautiful and that experience just left a hunger for Him in me that is hard to explain.
My grandmother was my lifeline to the world, the only stability I really had in my life. She was shot in the head in a robbery, but she survived and almost recovered. I was mad at God for allowing it to happen, for taking away all I had to hang onto. I remember sensing His sadness when He looked down on me, and I just “knew.” I knew her recovery was temporary, I knew she wasn’t going to survive after all. I knew that even that hope was going to be snatched away. A few months later she died while trying to testify against the bad guys. Stroke from her head injury.
I was really mad at the Lord at that point! I felt like, not only did He take my lifeline away, He allowed me to think she was going to be okay, and then He prophetically revealed to me that she wasn’t going to survive for long. I was just hurt, angry, had lots of issues. What kind of a God would show me bad things coming down the road that I was completely powerless to change? It took me years to understand how kind that was, how compassionate, how He had so often emotionally prepared me for the onslaught to come, before it even happened.
Kind of an old family joke built on multiple cultural stereotypes most of them false, but thank goodness we’re Italian. My dad was anyway. It simply means, we aren’t afraid of confrontation, we aren’t likely to walk away and give you the silent treatment. Rather then withdrawing or just being hurt, I chased God down and demanded an explanation. That is how I know of His kindness, His patience, His willingness to carefully answer all of my questions, one layer at a time.
I love Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. I just kind of hung out with him for a while, asking what kind of a God would reveal knowledge to a prophet, knowledge that He knew would be ignored, that He knew would not produce fruit? In my case it was love. What kind of a God? A loving one. A protective one. Perhaps it was true in Jeremiah’s case, too? We people can be so material, so tangible, so goal oriented, as if the whole purpose of Jonah’s tale is about saving Nineveh, rather than simply bringing Jonah himself closer to the Lord? In a similar way we often want Jeremiah to be heard and to save the whole world, but perhaps God just wanted to draw closer to Jeremiah?
Sometimes I get fearful or timid or worried and the Lord likes to tease me, to remind me that I am the one who marched up boldly to the Creator of the universe Himself, demanding an explanation, quite prepared to set Him straight and give Him a piece of my mind. That requires a certain amount of boldness or perhaps a certain amount of hysteria, if you prefer. Regardless, it has worked out well because what I know of this Christ is His grace, His patience, His mercy, and the great love He has for us, the huge investment He has made. Nothing can snatch us from His hand.
We are the apple of His eye, often with barely an inkling of how truly loved and valued we are, barely a glimpse of how good He is. We are much like the Bible says, peering at Him through the glass darkly, even perhaps peering at ourselves that way, through a foggy glass, not quite sure what we are seeing.
“What do you know of this Christ?” I know that He leaves me breathless and without words, kind of just helplessly trying to explain Him in a language that has not yet been written. All I can know for sure is that, He is so good and I long to know Him more.