It was about eight years ago when they came for a weekend visit. They were old friends from my newspaper days. We hugged at the front door, and they kicked off their shoes. Scott hefted the suitcases to the spare bedroom, and we all gathered around the wooden oval table to reminisce.
We talked about the things that consumed our lives, then and now. Conversations about news and editors soon merged to discussions of diapers and formula brands. For a little while, we danced around the elephant in the room: Faith.
He was a reporter, the other man at the table. And elephants eventually get addressed when a reporter comes around. He pointed to the magnet on the refrigerator, the one with the drawing of Jesus: a King’s head bowed under the searing pain of a thorny crown. The magnet was a gift from the pastor of my childhood church.
“What is up with that?” my old colleague asked, finger jabbing. “Rather grotesque and morbid, don’t you think?”
I felt words begin to form, in a deep place, and they rose up all hot in the throat. But they were flung back down and lost, and I just groped. Those few words I found seemed garbled, as if they were pushing through a curtain.
And I’m thinking, “I’m a words girl, and I’m a Word girl, too. Why can’t I find the words to explain what’s most important now? God, help me!”
I wondered if the other couple found my stammering response more of an apology than a confession of my faith. I said this: “He’s my King, and I love Him.”
That’s it? All I could muster up were seven words for the One who died for me?
On this side of the screen, if you were here right now, you’d see the long pause. I’m stammering again, groping for words now, like I did then. Typing, then deleting. And typing again. Words fail.
You’d see tears, too. I can’t NOT write about the cross without tears — not on Holy Week, not on any week. I just can’t.
For a long time, when I recalled that moment with the Jesus magnet, I felt like an evangelical failure, like other Christians might say, “That’s all you got, Jennifer? You blew your big chance to share the Gospel.”
But, you know what? I had a long talk with God this morning, and I got the feeling that I said the most important words of all. I also got the sense that more than my words, God desires a life of witness — which is the best Anti-Fraud Protection in a world that has long accused my King of being a fake.
My King wants me to live out loud, so that even when words get stuck in the throat, there’s no mistaking Who I belong to.