I went away for the weekend, without my family, and I stayed in a delightful bedroom which looked out onto the Chesapeake Bay, pictured above. This photograph was not taken from my bedroom, but was right below it on the lawn. I slept with the window open, the gentle breeze lulling me into a slumber so deep it bordered on comatose. But in the middle of the night, the door to my bedroom flew open. I was startled awake and my heart raced, but then I saw Jesus sitting peacefully in a little wooden chair beside my bed. He wasn't at all concerned about the open door. He was just staring at me.
"Well, if Jesus is here," I thought, "it's probably alright if I just go back to sleep." And so I did. I didn't even bother to close the door.
There's a few things you may want to know before making any judgments about this story. The next day, in broad daylight, my door flew open again, but it seemed to be caused by a sudden gust of wind. It was still a little odd, but I think I just didn't have it closed tightly, and the pressure change somehow opened the door. The second thing is that I am a very, very deep sleeper. One time when my husband was working overnight our security alarm went off in the wee hours. Guess what I did? I stumbled out of bed, made my way over to the keypad and punched in the code to turn it off. Is that funny or what? "Intruder, schmuder, I'm trying to sleep!" I was horrified in the morning when I put the pieces of the night together. Thankfully, something other than a criminal had tripped the alarm. The third thing that might be of interest is that I've never before had such a Jesus-sighting.
So honestly I don't know if I was just tired, scared, or that Jesus was truly visible in that chair. Each is possible and I don't think it matters one iota what really happened. Because what I know in my heart of hearts is that Jesus was there in the room with me, because He is always with me. He told us that He is the Good Shepherd, and He is. (John 10). He knows me, and He cares for me. He patiently uses the crook of His staff to guide me; He uses the rod of His staff to shoo away predators. Sometimes my Shepherd leads me beside quiet waters, and He always restores my soul. There is no need for me to fear evil, because He is with me. (Psalm 23).
So maybe Jesus was sitting in the chair, or maybe it was a figment of my imagination. Would that be bad? I don't think so. Who gave us our imagination anyway? Do you use yours enough? I'm thinking that maybe I don't. The Psalmist certainly was adept at using his. What beautiful word pictures! I am so thankful for all the vivid comfort woven through the Psalms.
I know some of you were expecting to move on in the Richard Foster book to the discipline of fasting, and we will on Thursday, but this extra post gives a few people a little more time to catch up. Plus I think this Jesus in the chair experience raises an important issue which applies to both meditation and prayer.
Foster said it best:
To believe that God can sanctify and utilize the imagination is simply to take seriously the Christian idea of incarnation. God so accommodates, so enfleshes himself into our world that he uses the images we know and understand to teach us about the unseen world of which we know so little and which we find so difficult to understand.
So may we boldly ask God to sanctify and utilize our imaginations this week!