Thursday, November 06, 2008

A Missed Encounter

I had a dream a number of months ago. It was a third person dream much like watching a film. The man in my dream was very much a down and out. He was just one step up from homelessness having just been given a flat to live in. He had suffered one disappointment after another and was just about surviving. He might have even spent time in prison. He wasn’t a bad man, just really down on his luck.

There was a talent competition in the town centre and my man (I don’t think he had a name) was persuaded by some of his friends to have a go. He had the most amazing singing voice and had the audience wiping tears from their eyes.

I am not sure if he won the competition but he went back to his flat totally unaware that he was being followed. The person following him knocked on the door and as soon as the door was open swiftly got himself inside.

“This is not the way it’s supposed to be,” he told the man. “This is not the life you are supposed to be living.”

He went on to explain that an encounter that should have set his life on a different course was prevented from happening. Some one stuck their oar in and shipwrecked his life. The homelessness, the prison sentence, the deep sense of failure – all these things were not part of the plan for his life.

I don’t know whether the missed encounter was with a specific person, or an event that he was supposed to attend, but the result was he never got to be the person he was supposed to be.

I was reminded of the dream when I read a few of the verses from John 1:35-39

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!" When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, "What do you want?" They said, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are you staying? "Come," he replied, "and you will see." So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour.

Imagine how different their lives might have been if they had not encountered Jesus. If they hadn’t been listening to John, if they hadn’t followed Jesus, if they hadn’t been curious enough to know a little bit more about him, if they hadn’t taken up the invitation to come and see, if they hadn’t spent the rest of the day with him – they would have missed the path that was planned for them.

Sometimes we think so much about the things that we add into our lives that don’t always do is any good. Sometimes it is what we fail to add into our lives that causes the most damage.

I wonder what I would say in answer to Jesus question “What do you want?”

I wonder how I would have responded to Jesus’ challenge “Come and you will see”

I wonder whether I would have spent the day with Jesus.

I wonder…

Sometimes we focus on Jesus being where we are and neglect to consider us being where Jesus is. Where I am is often somewhere quite colourless and insipid. Jesus inhabits a place that is vibrant and lively. I plan my life to almost avoid the extremes. Too much joy, I believe, will not last long, and come crashing down eventually. Better to be “just happy enough”. Too much pain, I believe, seems to last longer than it should and leaves me wrung out like a twisted dishcloth. Better to be “just comfortable enough”. Jesus inhabits the extremes. Anointed with the oil of joy and yet a man of sorrows he lives in the extremes.

“This is not the way it’s supposed to be,” he told the man. “This is not the life you are supposed to be living.”

How many times do we end up in a place where we were never supposed to be because of a missed encounter?

Come and see the place I stay
Remain with Me throughout this day
The life that you are searching for
You’ll find in Me and so much more

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