“Mom! Mom! I have something important to say!” my 4 year old daughter announced as she ran up to me.
“What?!” I asked.
“I asked Jesus to be the leader of my life!”
I melted. Everything in me unraveled as I squeezed her in the biggest hug possible and tried to explain how proud and happy that made me.
It was an answer to prayer. Not just a general answer to prayer, as I’ve prayed for salvation for all of my kids, but it was the answer to a specific prayer, just for her, for this to be her year. She was four and statistically within the age range that most people become believers, and I had prayed precisely to that extent. And then I forgot.
On a rough day when I wasn’t sure where God was, it was a little reminder, “I see you, Jen. I hear your prayers. And I don’t forget.”
These are the moments that make my life full – the moments when God reminds me that he sees me. He reminds me he is near.
In John chapter 20, Mary Magdalene was searching for Jesus. It was the third day after his death, and she was at the tomb, weeping and wondering where he was.
“They have taken my Lord away,” she expressed to the angels. … She turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking it was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).
– John 20:13-16
It was a moment that I’m sure she never forgot, a time in her life when she recognized the eyes of the Lord on her. Just her.
I wonder how many of us spend time questioning where God is, when He is exactly where he was in this story with Mary: right there.
Jesus is with her, and he’s pursuing her. He starts physically near her. She doesn’t sense his presence, so then he speaks to her. She doesn’t recognize him, so he says her name. And in an instant, it clicks. She sees him, and she sees him seeing her.
I couldn’t figure out why Jesus first called her “woman”, but the fact that Mary doesn’t recognize him when he says it makes me wonder if it’s reflective of the fact that we aren’t supposed to know Jesus that way. We aren’t supposed to just know of him or have broad belief in God. When Jesus had been with Mary, he had never called her “woman”, so it wasn’t familiar when he addressed her that way. But when he said her name? It clicked. Because it was familiar. Because the time they had spent together was personal.
Jesus came so we could have life to the full. He came to bridge the gap, to reconcile us back to God. Immanuel, God with us. Personal. Intimate. The gift of life to the full is a nearness and presence of the Lord God, who is with us regardless of whether or not we sense it. The gift is in access to a Father who listens to us, responds to us and pursues us.
He sees us, and we come alive in him, because in him is exactly where we were made to be.
But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go…” And God said, “I will be with you.” – Exodus 3:11-12
Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9
The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. – Psalm 46:7&11
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. – Matthew 28:20
Read: John 20:10-18
Think about people whose voices you most immediately recognize. Why are their voices so familiar?
Sometimes I wonder if the reason we don’t see and hear from God as much as we want is because we aren’t spending enough time with him to even recognize him – we remain blind or content with partial sight. While it’s not always the case, continued time with Him is always the answer.
Read: John 20:10-11
What did the disciples do? What did Mary do? Which response do you most resonate with – walking away when Jesus seems absent, or continuing to search?
Read: John 20:18
If you’ve seen Jesus, if you’ve experienced him in your life, are you telling people? If you’ve looked for him but not found him, are you listening to the testimony of others?
Listen: In You – MercyMe