“Jesus loves me, this I know” I can still see myself sitting in that front row primary Sunday School classroom with Mrs. Z standing in front of me leading all of us in song. Singing made me happy. Even though the older I got, the more I felt like nobody loved me, I was safe in the knowledge that at least Jesus did. Those were the very early days when I still could feel happy.
Sixty years have passed since that memory. My relationship with Jesus has changed. I no longer really address my prayers to him. I pray directly to a God who has changed in my mind as well. The bearded white male God of my childhood has been replaced by something the likes of which is really impossible to describe. Instead of male, God is both Mother and Father. But there is no body that I picture. Instead God is a feeling, a feeling of love and comfort that surrounds me and gives me peace. It took me years to really understand what was meant when we sang “God is love“. That was one of the first concepts about God that I was taught but one of the most difficult to understand.
I subscribe to a daily inspiration email. My thoughts about Jesus were stimulated by this story. I have read this story several times before. You probably have too. I try to talk to God the way many people talk to Jesus.Perhaps it is easier for them to picture an Anglo-Saxon fair haired man listening to them. Whatever, if I can transition as peacefully as the man in this story did, I will be blessed. I wish to be in my own bed, wrapped in the arms of love.
Namaste. Attic Annie
DADDY’S EMPTY CHAIR
A man’s daughter had asked the local minister to come and pray with her father. When the minister arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows. An empty chair sat beside his bed. The minister assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit.
“I guess you were expecting me,” he said.
“No, who are you?” said the father. The minister told him his name and then remarked, “I saw the empty chair, and I figured you knew I was going to show up.” “Oh yeah, the chair,” said the bedridden man. “Would you mind closing the door?”
Puzzled, the minister shut the door. “I have never told anyone this, not even my daughter,” said the man. “But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At church I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it went right over my head.
“I abandoned any attempt at prayer,” the old man continued, “until one day four years ago, my best friend said to me, ‘Johnny, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here is what I suggest. Sit down in a chair; place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It’s not spooky because he promised, ‘I will be with you always.’ Then just speak to him in the same way you’re doing with me right now.’ So, I tried it and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm.”
The minister was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old man to continue on the journey. Then he prayed with him, anointed him with oil, and returned to the church.
Two nights later the daughter called to tell the minister that her daddy had died that afternoon. “Did he die in peace?” he asked. “Yes, when I left the house about two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me he loved me, and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead.
But there was something strange about his death. Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on the chair beside the bed. What do you make of that?”
The minister wiped a tear from his eye and said, “I wish we could all go like that.”