What is he waiting around for?

Monday was a nasty cold day.  Clouds, heavy as a cow’s teat, hung overhead, threatening to drench anyone at any moment. I put on some sweats and thought about going to the club to workout but then figured,  why bother? This is the sort of day Jesus would pick to bust the sky wide open and come on back.

So I stripped the sheets from the bed because Mama taught me that if you are expecting company you’d better have clean linens. I’m not at all sure what Emily Post would say on this matter, but being southern and all, I think it’s only hospitable to ask Jesus to stay the night whenever he gets here. The distance between heaven and earth can seem so very great some days, I expect Jesus might be worn out when he arrives. Even if he can’t stay the night, he might appreciate a clean bed and a nap.

I was going to start work on a new book but then I opened the web browser and saw another story about the disaster in Japan. As usual Evangelicals have taken this opportunity to point out the obvious — Jesus is coming soon.  Franklin Graham reportedly said “as a woman gives birth to a child, those labor pains as they begin they start intensifying with more frequency.” Glenn Beck, who considers himself some sort of Evangelical even if the rest of us don’t, said he thought the devastation in Japan was a message from God.

What’s the point of starting a new project if God is going to show up any day now with a pink slip informing us all: Your time here is up.

So instead of writing one, I started reading a new book. It’s okay if Jesus returns while I’m in the middle of a book. I have stacks of books I have never finished reading, usually because like all those editors in New York keep telling me about my writing — I couldn’t get engaged with the characters, plot, dialogue, narrative arc, the geographical landscape, the dog or the blind giraffe.

I didn’t bother making supper tonight because we had plenty of leftovers from Sunday dinner and the last thing anyone wants to be doing when Jesus arrives at the back door is cleaning out the refrigerator. I leave that to Tim and Poe, who by the way has figured out how to open the frig using just his snout. I bet Jesus will get a kick out of that.

I waited around for Jesus most of the day but when 6 o’clock rolled around and he was still a no-show, I decided to go ahead to the gym. I had my cell phone with me and told Tim to ring me up if Jesus showed up.

But here it is bedtime again, and still no sign of Jesus.

If Jesus is watching Anderson Cooper or Glenn Beck talking about  how everything is falling apart on Planet Earth,  I completely understand why he stays away.

Or maybe Jesus is simply worried about having to share the headlines with the likes of Charlie Sheen and Rob Bell.

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  • Even cold, nasty mornings can inspire profundity. Had a “dead on my face” one myself. Christ’s return would solve a lot of things but in the meantime faith expressing itself in love will more than suffice. Thanks for another great column!

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      You’re welcome, Steve. Glad you enjoyed it.

  • Kim

    Your posts inspire me in all manner of ways! Thank you for another jewel.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Awww, Kim, so sweet.

  • Jane Wilson

    I really AM laughing out loud at this one – love it!

    I’m always baffled by those who simultaneously pray the world isn’t coming to an end and claim they’re ready for the promised new heaven and new earth. We may think we know when the end will arrive, but since we know only God knows, why can’t we just keep on doing life. God’s got things under control!

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Jane: I can hear the echo of your laughter waaaayayyy out here. Hugs.

  • One book on my Jesus is Coming Back and I haven’t completed reading the book list is The Road by Cormack MacCarthy. I swear, I’ve tried three times to read this thing and I get about 20 pages into it and I’m just like, “Uggh, this thing is just SO over done and dripping with too many descriptive words.” One of the best writing creative writing professors I had at Purdue gave me this advice – “If you have to describe everything with so much detail – what’s left for the reader’s imagination to picture?”
    Now, when Jesus comes back, he and are going to sit down at the new library in Crossville and have a tall vanilla latte and talk about a few of my friends who are now members of His kingdom.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Gary: Haven’t read that book but so many people love Cormack that I feel guilty for not reading him. Like your prof’s advice, tho.

  • Steve T

    I have this friend. She is a young pastor in a fairly high-steepled church. Only two short years ago she was in a prestigious university seminary, one of those places that simply reeks of stone buildings and hedges, meant I’m sure to elicit the aura of wisdom and thoughts of the old country. Nothing less than ancient truths found here. She is a brilliant young woman and I’m sure she received a remarkable education inside those hallowed halls.

    And while I think the university is a fine place, literally dripping in respectability and scholarship, sometimes it seems that some folks, young and old alike, as they leave that excellent institution for the reality of life amidst the pews, do so with the slightest air of, well, intellectual snobbery.

    Oh, I know most of these folk are simply living out of the place of scholastic exhilaration and newly discovered wonder gifted to them across the ages from some of humanity’s greatest minds and stories of true existential suffering. So, I’m quick to forgive. Yet, every now and again, that special person does slip through somehow untainted by the uppity intellectualism and light sprinkling of academic arrogance.

    My young friend is this person. I think somehow she must have been like a breeze – gently blowing through the experience, touching it all, picking up the old scent of all of that ancient wisdom, but never being truly captured by the rock walls. Softly moving, lightly dancing, like the Breeze.

    She really is special. I know the folks love her in that high-steepled church. They do. She holds it all quietly, honestly, lovingly. Perhaps that is why they give her so much space. Over the last year, she has slightly prodded them toward a fuller way of being. I’m not sure another could pull it off. But when you are blown by a Breeze, folks find themselves moving along easily toward new lands and new discoveries, enjoying the trip so deeply that they never realize that one day they might be standing along homeless folks on street corners and working to bring a bit of peace into the lives of battered women and maybe even standing by the hospital beds of gang members. How can it be hard space, it was just a breeze.

    She’s like that. So today, when I didn’t even really ask a question, she offered it up. This glimpse. This quick look behind the curtain. A breeze will do that, lift the curtain just so.

    The curtain fluttered around his hospital bed. He was just another gang-banger. I suspect that most folks would be happy had he died. Multiple gun shots. Drive-by shooting. Bangin’ Man probably would have done the same to the shooters had he half a chance. Most wouldn’t have gone to the room in the first place. Yet there she stood, wafting a bit of her spirit around him.

    Bangin’ Man had survived, but with some incredible injuries. The worst was his arm. It was a bone splattered horror show. The docs had tried to put it back together. But sometimes, things can get so bad that even all the king’s men and horses won’t do. Sometimes walls can be too big and falls can be too far. He knew it. She knew it. Everyone knew it. Yet, even with the largest and most imposing wall, if you put your face right up to it, you can still feel the rustle of the breeze.

    Maybe it was the old wisdom, but I suspect, it was that Something more, that kinship with blowing Spirits and age-old Wind that led her to ask him, “Can I pray over your arm? Can I anoint you for healing?” She expected him to allow it. After all, she was by the bed, softly moving, lightly dancing. But she never expected what happened next.

    He reached over, placing his good hand onto the top of the small bottle of oil, and gently, almost like a gentle breeze wafting across her brow, he made the sign of the cross on her head.

    I suspect those folks waiting on Jesus – the big hair, big named, big salaried folks – in large measure have it all wrong. They look to earthquakes and monstrosity and immense pain and they say, “Look, here is the true measure, the time is coming!” Yet they fail to see that real power is found in the smallest of places, in the little whispers, in the tiniest drops of dew dancing on the edge of a breeze, wafting through the air something akin to a cloud.

    And then suddenly, just like that, Holy Wind blows through our souls, and we know, we can never be the same again. Jesus is coming, softly moving, lightly dancing, like the Breeze.

    Thank you Karen, for once again, blowing a little truth into our world.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Nothing is so small as to be overlooked by the God of all things.

  • Diane

    I’m glad you were able to take a day off to read, but sorry it takes an “act of God” to make it happen! LOL

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Seriously, Di. How sad is that?

  • Voni

    Karen, it’s been a crazy day. Didn’t sleep last night, don’t now why. Spent a part of the day in the hammock with the computer in my lap – great way to work. Finished reading a book in Portuguese,was challenged,blessed- and proud of myself. Back to the computer, wanting to just stop and say hi. What a treat! your tongue in the cheek article then Steve T.’s light breeze that touched my cheek. Thank both of you! and blessings!

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Thanks, Voni. Glad we could bring a smile to your face after a sleepless night. Hope you get some rest tonight.

  • Debbie

    Outstanding…I needed a touch of The Breeze.