For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3: 16 (NKJV)
During my regular volunteer ministry in the prison this week, I had to wait to begin my class because the 1800 time “count” (when each prisoner is counted in her cell) was not clearing. Until then, the unit is more or less locked down.
Being a former employee (Chaplain), most officers knew me and stopped in the hall to say hi and visit for a moment. One officer, Ms. Flint, was assigned to the hallway where I was calmly waiting. She came up and began visiting.
I want to tell you her story. After the story, notice the emotion that is running through you. In order for the story to flow, I am taking my responses to her and questions out of it and letting it just go with her telling of it. This is a true story. It’s true that she told it to me, and it is true that she lived it! These are her and my words as it is not dictated, but this IS the story.
“You know, Chap (short for Chaplain – I like to think it as an endearing name.), I have been here almost fifteen years. Can you imagine that? Next year, I will get my diamond pin. Ms. Jones got hers last month. Time really flies. But it wasn’t always that way.
It will be twenty five years on Tuesday when I had the accident and lost my son. He was killed; he was only four and a half years old. It was on a Tuesday. I will never forget. I relive it so often….
The strange thing is that months before that, the oddest events happened always on a Tuesday. I got a raise on a Tuesday; the next week one of the kids got the flu and I was off work for several days. About a month later, I got sick and had to have surgery – yep, on a Tuesday. But everything got better and I got back to work.
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. Psalm 121: 2
But the oddest thing is that my son Jacob kept having these unusual events happening to him – and always on a Tuesday. About five weeks before the accident, we were walking down the sidewalk, just taking a walk.
He said, “Look Momma, there’s Jesus sitting right there on a branch, smiling at us. Don’t be afraid; he loves us. Never be afraid of Jesus.” I didn’t see anything, but all of a sudden that branch began to sway, just a little bit.
Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” Luke 18:15-17(NKJV)
A week later, we were at his school where I was picking him up.
He said, “Momma?”
“Yes, Mi hijo (Spanish for my child or my son).
“Mom, Jesus was playing with me at recess. His eyes are so wonderful. You will love him as I do.”
“I do love Him, Mi hijo.”
“He said to never be afraid. He would always be here for me, just like you but even better. Why would He say that, mamma?” I had no answer.
The following Tuesday my sister and I were getting ready to take a picture of my beautiful rose bush. It had such gorgeous blooms that year. But we could not get a good shot because Jacob was right behind it shaking it and laughing. We could not get him out of the bush. Finally he stuck his head out and we snapped the picture. You know what he told us? He told us that Jesus was back there with him and they were playing.
Then Jesus told him about the rose. “The rosebud (he used a different word, though) shows God’s love for us by holding us tight and wrapping His arms around us. When we feel safe and have enough faith and trust, we start to open, just like the rose, until we are fully open.”
Now, I thought that my son was a genius and making this up but I could truly see his explanation. And once opened we are vulnerable and must depend on God’s mercy and grace to carry us onward. It is a scarey world out here.
“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3
That’s when I started talking about my Jacob maybe having an invisible friend. Many children do. This invisible friend’s name could have been Jesus. Maybe he also was Hispanic….. who knows? Well, that was not it. When I asked Jacob about his friend Jesus, he told me he was not like a friend at school. He was God’s son who came to earth to help us. That was when I decided that it was time we start going back to church.
The next Tuesday was another event for Jacob when Jesus alerted him about a fast moving car headed down the street. Jacob stopped and waited until it passed before riding on down the sidewalk with his three wheeler. He told me about it later.
Then he said, “Momma, Jesus said He was going to take me to his house soon and that I would never have to worry about fast moving cars again or mean people or getting sick.. Isn’t that neat?”
Chap, I took him to the doctor but there was nothing wrong with him. The doctor recommended we all go to church and that might satisfy the”religious” hunger he may be feeling. So we did.
A few weeks later, on a Tuesday, I was driving down the street coming home from baseball practice with Jacob in the back seat. I looked back; the sun was setting and causing a glare. I told Jacob he looked like an angel with all that sun glowing around him. We laughed.
…… looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel. Acts 6:15
We headed home.
Jacob said, “Mom, you promised me a tootsie roll. Can we get one?”
I had forgotten; and not to disappoint him, I turned around and went back to the Quick Mart. As I was driving down the road, a pick-up truck barreled through the stop sign and hit us broad side right at Jacob’s passenger door, throwing the car into the opposite lane of traffic and into a deep gulley, upside down.
It was then that Jacob and I were floating above the accident watching it all. Our bodies were lying in the car, people were rushing around. It was surreal. We looked at each other and then looked down at the action taking place as we floated above it all. I felt nothing.
Then Jacob started moving away from me but I was right behind him. As we moved away, everything was perfectly dark, except at the furthest point was a bright light. It was like we were in a tunnel and that light was the other side. (And indeed it was.) We got closer and closer and suddenly I heard Jacob say, “Hi, Jesus, is this where you live?”
The smile of Jesus was intoxicating as He waved at me and shook His head. My “self” was going back into the dark.
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10
All of a sudden, I saw myself in the car; and it was like I was sliding or slipping back into my t-shirt. It was the oddest feeling and that is the only way I can explain it.
I still see Jacob in the back seat with that glow around him. I still see that rosebush with the buds on it. I still see that branch with a slight sway. Jacob led me to the Lord. He decided to stay. I returned.
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-35 (NKJV)
It was months of healing medically and physically and years of healing emotionally;
but on that Tuesday, I was totally healed – spiritually.