“If all the power you possess were TNT, you wouldn’t have enough to blow your nose!” My mother giggled this morning as she reminded me of how my father would tease people with that expression. Then I laughed, too. It’s a good memory, and something I haven’t thought of in years. It struck a chord in me related to things I’ve been simmering about in the last few days.
My father, who was called either Papa Pratt or Brother Pratt by everyone who knew him outside of our family, died in 1995 at the age of 94. He was 65 when I was born and had solid-white hair my entire life. He was a handsome fellow, I must say (yes, people say I look a lot like him), with a singing voice that people loved (yes, people say I shouldn’t sing, but that doesn’t stop me).
Papa became a preacher when he was 15, ordained in the non-denominational church in northern Georgia which had been founded by his “Uncle Charlie”. My knowledge of his life between 15 and 65 is sparse, but the Papa I knew was still preaching up a storm, even until the day he died when he sang to the nurses and anyone else who would listen.
When Papa was old, he cried a lot while in front of a congregation. He was always so overwhelmed by his deep, abiding love for Jesus, that he could hardly speak about Jesus without breaking down.
He used to sing a song that began something like this: “I have everything I need to make me happy. I have Jesus to show me the way . . . ”
Crazy thing is, I remember being embarassed by his ever-present Jesus tears.
But I’m finding that my admiration grows as I get older. As I examine that old man’s life more carefully, from my own middle-aged perch, I believe Papa’s love for Jesus carries a testimony for me, a legacy, if you will, of the power of Christ among us.
I’m sure it ought not be as alarming as it seems on some days, but I carry a general concern about the way we view the power of Jesus in the world today, or maybe the way we understand it, or maybe just the way we experience it.
I don’t really believe the power is at all diminished in its presence among us, but I wonder whether we acknowledge that power, or commune with it, or desire it in the way we should.
If the Jesus we worship is the Jesus of scripture, his presence among us is a power of far greater proportions than we typically acknowledge.
I wonder sometimes whether our Jesus is more of an idea, or a philosophy, or something abstract for the subject of intellectual debate, rather than the one of whom scripture says, “by him all things consist.”
Maybe it’s just a bad attitude, but I think we really need to be challenged frequently, myself included, with the idea that the version of Jesus we cart around in our mostly-sterile ideas might not have the power enough to fill a tissue with all the snot we can muster.
So, I’m feeling like saying to us: “Where’s your Jesus? Show him to me. Get him out. Let me see him. Have you talked to him lately? What’s he saying? How does he feel about you and where you’re at? How do you feel about him? How is he challenging you to engage in his world? How is his power made manifest in your world today? What’s the look on his face, or the words on his lips, for you? Have you bothered to ask? . . . Have you been willing to embrace the reality of his power tightly enough to feel his heartbeat and commit everything to him and feel the effect of that commitment on everything you see and do?”
Of course, I wouldn’t say those things. You’d all think I was weird if I said that stuff. Some kind of crazy, pious, Jesus freak – that’s what you’d think about me if I said stuff like that. Don’t worry, I’m not saying that stuff, I’m just thinking it. Just ideas. I’ll keep them to myself, so they won’t make a mess or anything.
I do hope, though, that when I’m old(er), I’ll feel the powerful presence of Jesus so strongly, and want him so badly, that just the mention of his name will bring me to tears, just like it did for Papa.
Not now, of course, but someday. You know what I mean.