I was running through the woods kicking up the golden leaves of autumn and praying breathy prayers, when this scene flashed across the movie screen of my mind. It was a memory reel.
I was running down a wide set of pebbled steps on my college campus right between my dorm (big enough for it's own zipcode) and the large lighted library at the shuttle stop, when I ran smack into a boy. It knocked the the books out of my hand and the wind out of my lungs and turned my ears cherry red. I was mortified. I was speechless. I was down on the ground. He might have been cute, but I would never know, because I barely looked at the boy who helped me reclaim my books. I hurried away as if my palms and knees were not pitted with pebbles and starting to bleed.
Remembering the scene prompted a question in me.
Would I recognize Jesus if I met him in my ordinary day?
What if I ran past him on my morning run? What if he was at the corner coffeeshop, asleep on a park bench in the city, driving a tractor on a farm, at the grocery store choosing fresh apples, driving SLOWLY in front of me on the road or in a cranky line at the Post Office at Christmastime?
Oh come on, Jesus lived like an ordinary guy. If he lived in my city today, he would run errands and stand in lines like the rest of us. Maybe he would take the bus, but he had a life to live and he would be on our pathways. Still, He would save the world by the time He left us.
But would we who love Him, recognize Him? Would I know my Savior if I rounded a corner and ran smack in to him, spilling my coffee and dropping my books?
What would it take to recognize him? Paying attention? Talking to him? Not being in a hurry? Stopping to look him in the eye? A jolt of electrical current? Heartache? Heartburn?
I remember meeting a friend of mine for coffee once after she had been living out of state for a while. I looked right at her and looked away without a single spark of recognition for about 5 full seconds. Christy had always been a beautiful blonde with sparkling green eyes. Now she was a beautiful brunette with sparkling green eyes. It took me a moment to recognize her and I had known her for more than ten years! I might have missed her by her hair, but I knew those peridot eyes.
I am talking about recognition of a skin and bones human, but also recognition that goes more than skin deep. I am talking of a spark of recognition from time spent together, from familiarity, connection and love. After all, to re-cognize someone, we have to have already seen or known or loved them previously. Only then can we recall them, their face or the sound of their voice, the cadence of their walk or a laugh like wind chimes. Even something smaller like a cowlick or a freckle or the way they flip their hair, chew gum or their peculiar sneeze.
When he was at the table with them,
he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.
Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other,
“Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us
on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
The disciples on the road walked and talked with him about recent events, history and God’s word for seven miles. That is about two and a half hours of walking and talking. Still, the disciples did not realize it was Christ until he offered them the broken bread.
It is not that they were dense. It takes time over time, connections and communion with the Risen Christ before we start to recognize him right beside us the whole time. It takes our open and searching hearts and His revelation.
I like the very simple idea of a lighted sign, an arrow that points to my savior when I am rushing right by him, little dirt devils in my wake.
But Jesus is anything but a neon sign. I get to choose with my freewill and my days how to spend them. He waits and he calls, he even woos me, but he lets me zoom on by if my feet are moving fast and my eyes are on another prize.
Creating white space for soul keeping is making slow time for our hearts and souls to get to know Jesus; not just the facts about him, but the deep waters of his heart and soul too.
I carve out white space and set it aside to be filled with and pour out Jesus; reading his story, seeing how he spent his time, what he said, what he prayed, what made him angry, who were his friends, who were his enemies, his way with people and how he walked on the same dirt we walk on. I come away from the fray to get to know Jesus in all his nuances of love, humanity and holiness.
Even in his breath and bone, Jesus was whole, in communion with the Father and held the Holy Ghost without pockets. In and out of my white space, all I can do is bring my dark, broken and rebellious self to the Light of the world to be filled and poured out, filled and poured out, filled and poured out.
If I surrender every day to His love and holiness, Jesus will fill me in ways I have never known before. He is unsearchable, but invites me to search Him. He is unknowable, but invites me to know Him. My oneness with God begins now. When I turn my face toward my Savior, his face comes into sharper view. When I give some of my clock time to timelessness, God blows boundaries into eternity, kairos.
Along with soaking in a constant stream of God's heart away from the fray, I also need to get out into His creation (for the heavens sing of God's glory) and to be with His people (each created uniquely in His image).
If I weave this kind of Christ-steeped white space into my days, I hope I will know Jesus enough to recognize him on the street, picking apples or on the library steps.