FORT WORTH, Texas, March 26, 2016 — Isaiah 42: 1-9 and John 12: 1-11 both testify to the divinity of Jesus Christ. Isaiah declares that Jesus is the One whom God will make to be a covenant to His people. The story in John takes place at Lazarus’ home where Jesus and His apostles gathered for dinner with their host — after Jesus raised him from the dead. As followers of Christ it’s easy to forget through day-to-day living what His being divine actually means. Yes, we acknowledge His death and resurrection every Sunday at church and talk about and testify to that fact. We have our committees, Christian buzz words, services, holidays, food drives, mission trips and so forth. But when faced with the impossible, do we still remember Whom we serve? Here is one story about a dear friend of mine, Jennie.
Jennie C. was born in Paris, France, in the late 1960s. Her father, Howard, was the chief of the Paris branch of a major U.S. governmental organization. Her mother, Joan, had been a secretary to major brass at the Pentagon and then transferred to Germany, where the two met and married. Joan quit working when they moved to Paris. They had not planned on having children, but when her twin sister died, Joan decided she wanted a baby. Soon after that Jennie was born.
Their extended families back in the states were all strong Christians; Jennie’s uncle on her dad’s side was a Lutheran minister in New Jersey. However, being the black sheep of their respective families, neither ever came to faith in Christ.
Howard just never did believe it, but Joan was hostile about anything that had to do with Christianity. They decided to conceal all religious talk, services, bibles, people, holidays and other Christian influences from Jennie. They didn’t let anything that had to do with Jesus touch her. Jennie said that it wasn’t difficult since Europe is pretty secular.
Fast forward several years. Joan and Jennie now live in Los Angeles. Jennie remembers one day when she was about 5 or 6, taking a walk with her grandfather. As they were passing a church, a man came up to them and said he felt led by God to give Jennie a children’s Bible. She didn’t know what it was but she liked it, especially since she was going to start school soon and learn how to read.
I asked Jennie what her mother said about the Bible. She said Joan would have had the book destroyed had she found out about it. As it was, Jennie lived with her grandparents most of the time and created a shrine in the corner of her bedroom where she hid the little book.
When it came time to go to school her parents wanted her to have the best education possible — and that meant parochial school. One of the requirements to go to the school was that each student and their families had to attend Sunday services. Joan grudgingly accepted this— hated it, but did it. The first time Jennie ever stepped into a church she was in awe.
The stained glass windows especially drew her attention. Of course the colors and images charmed her. It was then that she realized that the tall man with long hair, beard and wearing a white robe and sandals was the same man who came to her in her dreams. In those dreams He comforted her, they talked and played. Jennie was really surprised to find that other people knew who He was and that there was a whole building that celebrated Him.
Of course Joan didn’t believe her but Jennie knew the truth. When she learned who He was and what He had done for her it wasn’t difficult for her to accept His gift of salvation. She is very strong in her faith to this day.
Jennie’s parents made a monumental effort to keep her from Jesus, but they could not keep Jesus from Jennie. He will go anywhere and do whatever it takes to get your attention and keep you for Himself. Only you can keep you from Him. Which gives rise to another thought: Jennie came to faith despite her parents’ best efforts, without hearing witness or testimony of a believer, without a church, Sunday School or Bible studies.
Ask yourself, if someone took away our right to worship as we please; no Bibles, no churches, no Christian stories, music, TV or radio — if all that exists in this world that points to Jesus was suddenly gone, would you still believe and have faith in Him?
For those who do believe: If they started persecuting and punishing those who dare put their faith in Jesus would He still be welcome in your heart? Jennie wants Christians to ask themselves those questions now. It happens in the Middle East, China and Africa—it can still happen here too.
Thankfully, however, Easter happened. And with it this promise:
For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
~ Romans 8:38-39(RSV)
To my readers who believe, Have a Happy and Blessed Easter. To those who don’t, I wish you all the very best of this day. Peace.