MCDOWELL'S MUSINGS, METAPHORS, AND MESSAGES

Walking With the Lord

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).

One bright autumn morning, I was sitting at my breakfast table, thinking:      

    “I’ve certainly had a lot of problems lately. Troubles at work, troubles at home. . . I really ought to take time to pray about them.”

But then, all of a sudden, I sensed that someone had walked into the room behind me. I turned around and gasped:

          “Lord Jesus! What are You doing here?”

The Lord himself was standing in my doorway! I rubbed my eyes – was it really He? Yes, everything checked out .  . . from the tip of the white seamless robe to the faint glimmering halo around His head. I stammered:

          “That is . . . errr . . . it’s not that you shouldn’t be here. I’m just not used to You dropping by in such a visible form.”

This unexpected visit had unsettled me, and I vaguely wondered if I had done anything wrong. He smiled and the light in His eyes grew brighter.

          “Would you like to go for a walk?”

          “Uhmmm . . . why. . . sure!”

And so, we walked down the little country road that leads past my home. Slowly, the truth began to dawn upon up and I murmured to myself:

          “What an incredible opportunity! He has all the answers to all my problems – my relationships at work . . . my worries about the future . . . my family problems. All I need is to ask.”

We walked quietly for several minutes, and then I turned to Him:

          “Excuse me, Lord, but I need advice on this very difficult problem. . “

But before I could finish, He had raised His fingers to His lips:

          “Shhhh . . . Do you hear it?”

At first, I didn’t hear a thing. But then came the faint tumbling of a nearby brook, crisp and light beneath the autumn colors. The Lord sighed:

          “Isn’t that beautiful?”

“Ah . . . yes . . . I suppose so. . .”

I was thoroughly distracted. (He had interrupted my train of thought.) I waited a few minutes to show due respect, and then – just as we walked past a rolling meadow – I blurted out:

          “Lord, I’ve been worried about my prayer life. Things have been awfully dry. Now, according to the books that I’ve read. . .”

He put His arm around my shoulder:

          “Hush . . . Do you hear it?”

Children were running through the meadow grass. Once again, He smiled:

          “Isn’t it wonderful?”

          “Uhmm . . .yes . . . now that you mention it.”

Then I added irritably :

          “You know I love children.”

We walked on. A horrible thought loomed in my mind: what if I lost this opportunity? Here were all the answers to all my problems, right at my elbow! He even knew the deepest mysteries of the universe: love . . . death . . . .the Armageddon! As a last resort, I thought I’d talk to Him about religion. After all, that is His line of work:

          “Lord, I was wondering what you think of the conflict in modern biblical scholarship between . . .”

Again, the friendly arm came around my shoulder and I gritted my teeth. The Lord stopped and silently picked up a roadside pebble. He grinned:

          “I’ll bet you can’t hit the top of that telephone pole.”

I was bewildered. Why, of all things! And from the Lord! (This was not what I had expected from the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. If you were God, wouldn’t you be a bit more serious about it?) He casually tossed His pebble toward the pole:

It arched silently through the air.

          Hmmmmm . . . He missed!

My depression was deepening, but still I stopped to pick up a pebble. What else could I do? Half-heartedly, I tossed it in the general direction of the telephone pole:

It arched silently through the air.

          Hmmmmm . . . I hit it!

The Lord proudly looked at me and chuckled:

          “Hey, you’re good.”

As we strolled on, the knots in my stomach grew tighter. Whenever I wanted to talk about anything of any importance, there would always be an interruption. Some faded blue chicory would be brushed by the wind, or a butterfly would light on a moss-covered fencepost.

At last, our walk is finished. I am so upset that I can think of nothing to say. Beneath His long black beard, the Lord has a playful smile, and as He turns to leave, the light in His eyes grows brighter.

He walks to the door, and then stops to glance at me over His shoulder:

                     “Stop trying so hard.”