Written on February 13, 2017.
Last week, I took a little roadtrip. It wasn’t planned, but it was purposed. A few days before “hitting the road” I learned that one of my closest friends from junior high and high school had passed away. It was a shock. I had to read and reread the message numerous times to even grasp the idea. There was no illness preceding, just a here and then gone.
We felt immediately that I was to go to the funeral, which meant a return to my home state, though not my hometown. And a roadtrip, by myself. A rarity for sure, as I rarely even run to the store without a companion of teenage nature.
The drive was lovely, full of Pappa, sound and silence. Memories flowed freely and found me grateful for where I have been and who I have known. As miles and moments waxed and waned, I thought of my friend Kevin and who he was to me. Recollections and remembrances led my heart to overflow my eyes again and again.
Within the cache, funny and fierce. There was the time that Kevin actually told our English teacher that my puppy, Lambchop, peed on his senior paper. This was of course the reason he couldn’t turn it in on time. Our teacher actually believed him. Karen, his twin sister and my best friend and I had stayed up all night getting our final edits and annotations done. He got an extra week to get his done.
And then, there was the moonlit night on a gravel driveway in a little town in Texas. The night when I received my first ICU. An “I see you” from one dear to my heart who saw far more than I could at the time. A cub turned lion before me as he went past his yearnings to my years. For it took many 365 day collections for me to see what he saw. What HE saw. Still sees.
As I came into the church, the one who I knew the longest was sitting with a seat saved, though she didn’t know I would be the occupant. It was like wrapping up in a warm blanket on a winter day. Later we walked timidly through the lobby, treasure hunters of sorts as we searched faces for ones we knew and met other eyes that were seeking too.
We found each other fragile from our fallen friend, yet each of us with an open door that each other could enter. We came into each other’s lives anew. With eyes to see and hearts to hear. There wasn’t much shared about where we had been for the moments were so manifest with where we are now. How we arrived didn’t matter as much as the truth that we had gotten there, here, at all. We didn’t take many trips down memory lane, choosing instead to run the road of now. Each sign and marker revealed that the hopes we had for each other were present among us now. We had become what we had seen for each other then, even as we are still becoming what was written well before we became part of each other’s lives.
At my hotel that evening, I journaled an ICU for each friend whose life I had the honor of entering that day. And I prayed for each one. Sleep frolicked around the fringes and as I let it enter, I thought of a scripture.
And he said to him, “Why are you asking me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:17
This translation may read a bit different, especially since we most often see the rich young ruler as contemplating eternal life. Young, righteous and wealthy, he came with a question, a quest. He wanted to know how his “have it all” life on earth could continue. In Heaven as it is on earth was the search of the rich young ruler.
But Jesus. He just has a way of giving far more than is sought. And finding us, who we really are, in the process. We knock. He enters.
A wild heart stands before Jesus, hungry. The bread within the hands of Heaven is broken open and multiplied. For Jesus didn’t tell the boy how to enter eternity. He told him what he needed to do to enter life itself. The boy on the cusp of manhood wanted to know what was needed that he would still “have” in Heaven. Jesus crumpled the list of nouns on a list and invited him to a verb. ‘Eiserchomai’, to come into, to enter.
Jesus took him from a future tension to present tense. The young man trusted Jesus with his expression of desire. And He was faithful as He revealed to the the young man the difference between what he wished would happen and that which was already accomplished.
Jesus invites youth to grow up as He offers life that has already come. Already is. When we are on the precipice of maturity, we often want to know that our future is secure. Jesus wants us to see what already exists for us. He longs for us to live the life already provided instead of pensioned.
How do we enter? Keep the commandments. Follow the path set before us. Live what He has already said to us. Treat it as a treasure, not one stuffed within a drawer or box, that we fear losing. Not something to be hidden away until… Instead, a destiny display. We the case, His word the jewel within. Hemmed in and secure, while completely visible. A transparent casing over a glistening glory.
Let the Lord reveal to you something you have been “hiding away” so you could protect it from being lost. Let Him show you a word He has spoken to you that you aren’t living because you have held it as something you wish could happen instead of carrying it to the place where it already is.
Write an ICU word for each one that you will have at your table this Shabbat, those that will enter your home. And if you will share Shabbat with someone at their invitation, write an ICU word to give them as you enter.