I’m not really a visual learner. I’m more audio. I need to hear it, say it, maybe write it out, but mostly hear it to learn it. I learned that fact about myself through my college years, and I’ve put it to good use since.
However, I kept hitting a wall when I used my tried and true method of study when it came to learning the Word, until a few years ago. It turns out, when attempting to seek the face of the Lord, learning and study will only get you so far. God’s presence is something that is experienced not learned. And experiencing anything requires all your senses.
That’s when I realized I would need to be more still. More quiet. Because I would need to put myself in the place of the story I was reading. This morning, I stood confused in a crowd on the streets of Bethany and watched as a man I had heard about but never met called out randomly to a tomb. Then I watched as a man wrapped in grave clothes stooped through the small doorway and walked out alive. And as I listened to the gasps and the constant chatter of all those standing around me in the crowd, goosebumps rose over my arms as I grasped that this man standing before me truly was the Son of God.
Then, before I knew it, I was lying in the dark trying to remember what had just happened. I could remember being sick…my sisters crying…but then? Why couldn’t I see? what was on my face? I felt the stone wall beside me and realized I was in a tomb. Was I dead? Did I only get so sick they thought I was dead and buried me before realizing I’m still alive? But why didn’t I feel sick anymore? In fact, why do I feel very much alive? I lay there confused until I noticed light pouring in from a doorway even with the cloth over my face and heard a voice. A voice I’d know anywhere. It’s the Teacher. and now I know what has really happened.
Then, I stood in the place of Him. The One who needed to show them all Who He really was and is. The One who hurt and cried for Mary and Martha. The One who wanted to come to Lazarus the moment He knew he was sick. The self control and will power that was needed to restrain the urge to pick up and run as fast as these human legs could carry….to not heal the brokenness the moment the fever broke out. To not go and hug those sweet girls and assure them that it would be okay. And the joy to finally be there now..standing in that place and still using self control to keep feet planted here and not run in to him.
Stories come alive when we experience them, because they ARE alive. They are from real people with real emotions. Over time, I even stumbled upon a spot to meet alone with Jesus. I found myself there time and again, until it became our secret place. It’s a hillside, looking out onto the Sea of Galilee. A breeze is always blowing and the grass is tall and soft. Sometimes, I sit alone a bit and wait for Him while I ponder….and I know from the other stories that He is using self control to give me moments alone before coming to speak to me. Sometimes, I walk up and He’s already waiting…sitting and looking out at the Sea he remembers creating, and He turns to me and smiles as I approach and sink down beside Him. Sometimes, he’s laughing at lambs playing farther down the hill. Sometimes, He’s playing with children while I look on thinking of the God who calls them a reward. Sometimes, He’s playing with my children, and I see them with new eyes.
He has given us such amazing senses to experience the world around us. To smell the summer rain, hear the cicadas in the trees, see the whiz of a hummingbird flying faster than we could run…but what if our imaginations are for more than playing pirates as children or reading books as grown ups? What if we were created with a divine ability to step into a moment with Him and let go of the stress and worry of now? Where will you meet Him? In a garden? Under a bridge of a city, talking to the homeless?
The next time you have a few moments alone with His Word, close your eyes and place yourself there with Him and really feel it and experience what He is showing you.