04 October 2014

Jesus speaks my name; lingering in his presence

The church service wouldn’t be starting for another 15 minutes, but I left the throng of chatting folks outside and entered the sanctuary quite early. As I placed my things on a chair, the worship team had just finished setting up their equipment. While a young girl playfully beat the pedal for the bass drum, Pastor Doug performed a sound-check with his lapel microphone, “Testing, one, two”.

Spotting my friend, Lyz, as she familiarized herself with the service’s song lyrics, announcements, and sermon notes, I walked up to where she sat at the laptop and greeted her. When Doug approached her to discuss a few details, my eyes absentmindedly wandered around the sanctuary as a few more folks came inside.

As I waited for them to finish, I thought I heard my name - “Good morning, Deb”.

I looked around, but no one was near me. Was I hearing things? Could it be God audibly speaking to me?

Lyz interrupted my confusion, “Deb, Doug is greeting you.” He was actually standing right next to me but I was bewildered and didn’t realize it was him speaking. Because his lapel mic was still on, his voice filled the entire room. Instead of hearing it coming from just a few inches away, I heard it through the PA system.

I immediately thought of the resurrection story, as I had been meditating on it for a couple of days. Many of Jesus’ disciples had watched him being crucified. They were confused and bewildered.

Early in the morning, Mary (from Magdala) who was one of these grieving disciples, went to the tomb where the body of Jesus had been laid. When she found the tomb empty, she ran to tell Peter and John. These two guys immediately ran to the tomb to see for themselves. It was slowly dawning on them that Jesus had actually risen from the dead.

John and Peter went home right away, but Mary Magdalene lingered at the empty tomb weeping. Because she wasn’t in a hurry, and perhaps because she was more spiritually in-tune and open-minded, she had the experience of seeing and speaking with two angels.

But far more incredible than that... the resurrected Jesus was also there. Not understanding that Jesus was alive, she at first thought he was the gardener.

But when Jesus spoke her name, “Mary,” she immediately knew in her heart who he was.

Because of their haste, John and Peter, missed out on this incredible encounter.

Similarly, as I linger in God’s Word and in his presence, spiritual truths are revealed to me. Tears often flow as I realize an awareness of his presence. It is such a powerful and personal experience.

During such moments, it’s as if he has actually spoken my name, “Deb”.

What about you? Do you linger in God’s presence?

Do you give Jesus the opportunity to speak your name?

Are you still so you can listen to him... or are you always in a hurry to get to the next thing?

The sheep hear the shepherd’s voice and he calls them by name. 

This is what the Lord says, he who created and formed you, 
"I have summoned you by name; you are mine."

Be still and know that I am God.

[Scripture references: John 20:10-18; John 10:3; Isaiah 43:1; Psalm 46:10]


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