The Wedding Feast, and the Aftermath Pt 1
The Last Shall Be First Series
"Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more." (2 Cor 5:16)
"Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love." (Prov 5:19 KJV)
The first few days after that Christmas night of 1972, it was like a dream. I really don't know how long it took to swallow me up, but by the end of it I was passionately in love. I had begun by weakly saying, "From now on I'm going to follow Jesus." Sounds dramatic I know, but it was really said very weakly and with some sense of inner resolve to hang on, because I had an idea that everything was about to change drastically.
The air was magic. Lights came on. It was winter and dark early, and hard to heat where we lived, but I can't remember noticing that too much. The Bible became electric - holy - precious. Epiphanies and serendipitous events took place every day, with little inner words of the Spirit to go along, though I hardly knew that was what it was.
I knew it had some solidity to it one day in early January, freezing outside, and something needed to be fixed in our car. I was our mechanic for lots of things in those days, out of necessity. To fix whatever it was, involved me on my back under the front of the car taking a nut off a bolt -- maybe I had to replace a starter or something. Anyway, I couldn't get the dang thing off. I was afraid of snapping my wrench or stripping the nut, so I got a bright idea. Somewhere I had read that when you asked God to do something, He would, so I thought I'd try that. I closed my eyes, prayed a desperate and quick (my hands were freezing and so was the rest of me), "O Lord, please loosen this nut, in Jesus' name, Amen."
Then I fitted the wrench, closed my eyes (to not have dirt and grease rain down into them), gave the handle a strong steady pull, and then suddenly the nut moved! It had been completely frozen before!! So "Hallelujah!!!!" on two fronts -- one, the nut came off, and two, God had answered my prayer for the first time! Or it was the first time I connected to the fact that He had done it, anyway!!
None of this was from church or other influence. Janis and I, and Jim, our roommate at the time, were all going through this same conversion, and we couldn't find a place to roost, so we were just all learning individually of Jesus in different ways. We were going to the Episcopal church where my parents attended, on Sundays and for Wed night suppers. Although there was a great charismatic move in that church in those days, there was nowhere to put us hippie believers. We tried to spiff up; we washed our jeans and workshirts! Still, they took us into what they were doing, and we got what we could out of it, though we all felt this strong urge for something more our style.
New vision and thought came live-streaming into my consciousness. It came of itself and all I did was be there to receive it, as this new vision shook up the old one and made all things begin to be bright with light. The new thought flowing in was a taste of the wisdom and knowledge of God. It was like something had been poured into me and I had become full all the way to overflowing.
I didn't really understand anything, but soon it became an all-out love affair. I can't explain it. I would say it wouldn't happen to anyone else the same way, the same outer circumstances anyway, but I find that inwardly, the Lord woos us through the positives and negatives of our lives, and when He takes us for His own, His love burns for us, and we cannot help but to love Him back.
I have this image which is actually something that really happened during those days. It was the autumn previous to that Christmas, and I was working for the second time at the same gas station, a large station near the middle of town. "Hated my job" was an understatement. We still pumped it for you in those days, washed your windshield, checked the oil, tires, etc., if we did the whole thing. How often I would've had a better response to the many who rolled down their windows and handed me a $5 or $10 bill, saying, "Here, stick that in the tank!!"
My response always was, "Certainly, sir," but I really often wanted to mention an alternate location in which to "stick it," but I knew that would get me fired. So I held my tongue but grew very weary with the whole thing.
I worked 2nd shift mostly, 3-11, and my boss, a seemingly easy-going nice fellow lots older than I, 60s maybe, I found out was the Grand Wizard of the local KKK! Yikes! I knew they were still out there, but to my knowledge I didn't know any. Working with him was pretty eerie after I knew that. It was supposed to be a secret that he was a Klansman -- that was part of the intimidating mystique of the Klan -- you never knew who they were. So needless to say I never dared to mention it to him. Those people seemed to operate in an atmosphere of intimidation and fear under a cloud of imminent doom, and I wanted to steer clear of that, by all costs!
So late one afternoon, I think it was a lazy dreary overcast autumn Sunday, a van rolled by the station headed for town. Something on the van triggered a response in me, and whatever it was (don't remember), "freedom" suddenly went sailing by on the forefront of my consciousness. I went with it, and in a split second I was running off down the road toward the van's direction, my bewildered shift manager left behind with a look of total consternation on his face. (And my very unpleased new wife waiting at home! If you had known me back then, you'd know that was not "out of character" for me!)
Why does that come up now? Because the image then continues into the figurative, and in the figure, I see the van is Jesus and me running off down the road in His direction is my pursuit and desire. It hadn't come from me, but in a thousand different ways in those few months before Christmas, I had met Jesus' eyes' gaze into my spirit many times. Everything was there in that glimpse into the Eyes of the Divine. Truth. Love. Wisdom. Tenderness. Strength. Enlightenment -- all the "things" I had consciously desired and sought down all my wanderings, from the beginning until that moment -- all those things were there in Him, but I couldn't yet put two and two together with it.
Until the moment I realized Who He was -- and in this figure, it was when the van drove by that I suddenly woke up as if from a dream, and what had seemed real in the dream no longer was, and what I had dreamed in the dream, was now suddenly the real, and I knew in a moment He had sought me and called me in all those things, and I remember what His eyes looked like when they looked into mine. The whole of me dissolved into Him, and I knew in the moment that this is LOVE IN PERSON; Here IS Grace and Truth, this is HE, the very One out of Whom everything comes -- offering me Himself!
But I couldn't think too much about those other issues, because I found myself enamored only with Him. I didn't know about my own sins. I didn't know about the sins of the world. Whatever grace and truth were, they defied description and definition, but I had no desire toward that anyway. I just inexplicably loved Him and wanted to be with Him. Like Andrew and Peter, and James and John, I just left the nets on the ground where I had been, leaving employer and later friends and family. It was all because I couldn't help myself, I HAD to do it, nothing could stop me -- once I SAW -- from responding to His call, "Follow me, and I will make you a fisher of men." (Or in my case, I almost literally left hose and shop rag on the ground, to run after Him Who my soul so loved, "Wait for me, wait for me!!!!")
End of Pt 1. See Pt 2 for continuation.