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 Ill follow them well... Ive never been good at that. But I intend to try, at least for a few weeks!
The shaver works like a charm, but thats 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? Its a combination of their laundry detergent, their shaving cream, their cologne, or whatever, but its theirs. The experts say that the sense of smell is the sense most deeply tied to memory, and I dont doubt it. Opening that box and using Dads shaver, I flooded with memories of Dad and how much hes meant to me the gifts given, the lessons taught, the encouragement ladled out in generous helpings, the integrity modelled. Whats 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 didnt expect him until much later that day. So I had no reason to believe hed be at church that morning. But as I sat up near the front, I heard someone cough. Of course, when youre in church youll hear anywhere from a dozen to 2000 coughs per service, so thats not too unusual! But this wasnt just any cough, it was my brothers cough. Instantly I thought, Chris is here! I turned to see, and sure enough, hed 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?
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. Hes the monotone, meatless, one-dimensional Jesus of the made-for-TV movies. Hes someone I talk about, but not someone I know too well.
Hes someone I talk about, but not someone I know too well.
OK, maybe Im being a little hard on myself, but I think its 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 Ive got the goal, what do I do to reach it?
First, Im 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. Im also using it as the basis for the Sunday School class Im teaching at church.
Second, Im using our What Jesus Did! devotional as my daily devotional for 2001. Its 365 days through Matthew, and its a marvelous tool for discovering Jesus. And, as an added bonus, its now available by email!
Third, Im 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 Ill ever know. Knowing him better is my number one spiritual priority for 2001. Care to join me?
Father, I confess that I dont 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.