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Familiar Familiar
    by Paul Lee

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    Not too long ago, my dad gave me his electric shaver. Mom had bought him a newer one, and since his old one was still in great shape, he asked if I needed it. My current shaver was more “ripper” and “yanker” than shaver, so I gladly accepted his offer. It came a few days later.

    Dad has always treated his shavers well. He gave me detailed instructions on how to clean it, lube it and generally pamper it. I doubt seriously that I’ll follow them well... I’ve never been good at that. But I intend to try, at least for a few weeks!

    The shaver works like a charm, but that’s not the best part of the deal. The coolest thing is that it smells like my Dad. Have you ever noticed that each person has an individual smell about them? It’s a combination of their laundry detergent, their shaving cream, their cologne, or whatever, but it’s theirs. The experts say that the sense of smell is the sense most deeply tied to memory, and I don’t doubt it. Opening that box and using Dad’s shaver, I flooded with memories of Dad and how much he’s meant to me — the gifts given, the lessons taught, the encouragement ladled out in generous helpings, the integrity modelled. What’s great to me is that I know my Dad, know him well enough to identify his shaver just by the smell!

    That brought to mind something from when I was younger, and my brother was in college. He was up in Portland, Oregon, we were down on the coast in North Bend about 4 hours away. He was supposed to come down and visit us, but we didn’t expect him until much later that day. So I had no reason to believe he’d be at church that morning. But as I sat up near the front, I heard someone cough. Of course, when you’re in church you’ll hear anywhere from a dozen to 2000 coughs per service, so that’s not too unusual! But this wasn’t just any cough, it was my brother’s cough. Instantly I thought, “Chris is here!” I turned to see, and sure enough, he’d come home early and had just slipped into the back. My family was so familiar, so known, that I could identify my brother just by his cough in a congregation of 200 people!

    As a parent, I can identify my son or daughter by their cry, as a husband, I can identify my wife by the sound of her footsteps. Because I know them.

    Do I know Jesus as well?

He’s someone I talk about, but not someone I know too well.
    Ouch. No. Not even close. To my shame, Jesus for the most part is still a flannel-graph cutout, or a little figurine in a nativity set. He’s the monotone, meatless, one-dimensional Jesus of the made-for-TV movies. He’s someone I talk about, but not someone I know too well.

    OK, maybe I’m being a little hard on myself, but I think it’s because I long for more. I want to know Him like I know my brother, or my Dad, or my wife, but better. Much better. I want to know Him by his footsteps, find His smell in my clothes, hear His voice all around me! I want to understand what people mean when they say Jesus is their best friend! I want Jesus to be familiar, to be real!

    Now that I’ve got the goal, what do I do to reach it?

    First, I’m reading The Jesus I Never Knew, by Phillip Yancey. I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to see Jesus as a three-dimensional human person, not just a cardboard cutout. I’m also using it as the basis for the Sunday School class I’m teaching at church.

    Second, I’m using our What Jesus Did! devotional as my daily devotional for 2001. It’s 365 days through Matthew, and it’s a marvelous tool for discovering Jesus. And, as an added bonus, it’s now available by email!

    Third, I’m asking God daily to use the Spirit to show me new things, or old things, or anything, about Jesus I need to see.

    Jesus was, is, and will be the most important real live person I’ll ever know. Knowing him better is my number one spiritual priority for 2001. Care to join me?

Father, I confess that I don’t know your Son as well as I should. I ask you to reveal Him to me through your scriptures and your Spirit. Give me understanding and insight, strengthen me and fill my soul with your knowledge. In His precious name, Amen.

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Title: "Familiar"
Author: Paul Lee
Publication Date: December 27, 2000

 

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HEARTLIGHT® Magazine is a ministry of loving Christians and the Westover Hills Church of Christ. Edited by Phil Ware and Paul Lee, assisted by Roberto Gelleni and Ben Steed. Frank Cloutier is Executive Director.
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