A Visitor, A Revelation And A Strange Awakening
Published: December 6, 2007
A knock came at the door. It was very late, and I was all alone and hesitant to answer, so I went to the window and peeked out. The man outside looked somehow familiar.
He looked at me, and as he did, I knew I would invite him in. You see, I can’t explain how, but I recognized him.
It was Jesus.
In just seconds, he had entered the living room and accepted my offer to sit down on the couch. And now, of course, I was faced with the big problem:
What do I say to him?
I thought of the usual laundry list of requests that I recite in prayer: “Dear Jesus, please help my friends who want to have a baby, take care of my neighbor facing surgery, please watch over my sister-in-law, and please …”
It didn’t seem right, somehow, to list the things I wanted from him now that he was right here, sitting next to me.
We were quiet for a few seconds, but it was a comfortable silence, and I kept glancing at his face.
I have never seen eyes like that, so luminous and knowing, and yet, the more I glimpsed, the more I saw something else. There were lines around those eyes, as if he were someone who loved to laugh.
And just then, he did.
His laughter filled the room, and I realized with relief that he was not laughing at me, but at the situation. Clearly, he had been in exactly this scenario before, sitting on a couch with a person who was completely tongue-tied.
“Lorraine, would you get me a glass of water?”
I jumped up, as if stricken by a bolt of electricity. What had happened to my manners? Why hadn’t I offered him something earlier?
“How about a cup of coffee, a nice pot of tea or a glass of wine? I also have homemade cookies or I could make you a sandwich or …”
And then I realized I was doing what my Aunt Rita does when I visit. She recites the full contents of her refrigerator when all I want is water.
“Water will be fine,” he said with a little smile.
It was clear that he knew the Aunt Rita routine.
I gave him the water and then sat down again. Frankly, I was getting nervous. Would he drink the water and vanish? And would I have missed my one big opportunity to talk with him?
He knew what was on my mind. “I will be here for a little while, and I will be happy to answer your questions.”
“Could you teach me how to pray?” I blurted out. “I always feel like such a big loser when it comes to prayer. I mean, I know the Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary, and I always have that laundry list of requests …”
He smiled. “The list is fine. You have to get that out of the way before you can feel comfortable enough to talk in your own words.”
“So it’s OK to talk to you as if you were, well, right here in the room?”
“Well, since you are right here in the room, could you tell me how to have more trust that things will turn out OK? The newspapers are always predicting worse-case scenarios, like drought, war, terrorism, bird flu and everything else. How can I be sure the good guys really will win?”
He put down the glass. He opened his hands and I saw on the palms the most terrible thing imaginable. Horrible jagged scars, which brought tears to my eyes.
“Those look so painful,” I whispered.
“But you see that the wounds have healed, don’t you?” he replied.
“My promise is not that there will be no wounds, no suffering, no pain,” he continued, “but that I will always dry your tears. Evil will never ultimately triumph. Good people really do have the final word.”
He clasped my hand in his. He looked me straight in the eye.
“Lorraine, you never have really believed, deep in your heart, that I died on the Cross out of love for you, have you?”
He had me there. “Well, I know you died for mankind, but it is hard to think you did it for me. After all, there are so many people in the world …”
“That’s true,” he said, “but this is what I want you to know: Even if you had been the only one, I still would have died for you.”
He put his arm around my shoulders, and I felt like I was about
10 years old.
“You have trouble believing that anyone loves you, don’t you?”
I nodded. “You know I was the fat kid who didn’t even think her own mother loved her.”
“Of course, I know that, Lorraine. That’s why I came to visit you. To assure you that I do love you, and when you pray, you can talk to me as if I were your friend. Don’t edit things out. Tell me about the wounds. Tell me if you are scared or lonely or depressed. And don’t forget to mention when you are happy too.”
Just then, he got up and walked over to the nearby hamster cage. She was clamoring to see him, so he picked her up and cupped her in his hands.
“Do you know why I made these little creatures?”
I scanned my memory like a child in science class. “Because they’re important to the ecological chain of being,” I replied proudly. “Environmentalists say every animal has its niche.”
He chuckled. “Well, actually, I think they’re quite funny and make wonderful pets.”
He put the hamster gently back into the cage and smiled. “Now, did you say something about homemade cookies?”
I rushed into the kitchen, grabbed a plate and opened the cookie jar. Just as I was arranging the cookies on the plate, the alarm clock shrieked.
It was 6 a.m. and time to get up for work.
It had all been a dream, I realized, as I climbed groggily out of bed. Jesus really hadn’t shown up at my front door. He had not asked for homemade cookies.
Still, the dream made an impact. That night, as I said my prayers, I went through the usual laundry list. Then I told him all the stuff I often edit out because I think prayer is supposed to be much loftier and significant.
I told him about the old memories that had dragged at my heart that day. I told him about feeling lonely and scared and worried.
But I also remembered the good stuff.
My friend had come over for lunch. The hamster had sampled her first pecan. And the sky had shimmered tangerine as the sun set.
Ever since that dream, nothing has been quite the same. I keep praying for that knock at the door. Hoping he will sit beside me on the couch.
Just in case, I’m keeping the porch light on. And a batch of homemade cookies in the jar.
Artwork (“Gulf Stream”) featured in the print edition by Jef Murray. Readers may e-mail Lorraine at email@example.com.