Letters to Jesus
Early in the sixteenth century, a young German missionary arrived in Brazil and went up the Amazon until he found a large tribe of Indians where no missionary had ever been. He started to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ but the Indians could not understand a word or gesture. So the missionary decided to preach the gospel by living it according to the Bible. Hopefully, his example would convey the message to his flock, so that by the time, he could understand their dialect, they would already have learned something from the way he lived. However, try as he might for five years, he just could not comprehend their language that seemed to change by the week. So he gave up and left his little hut and disappeared up the river, never to be seen again.
Years later, the Spanish arrived in the same area and with them came Catholic priests who managed to understand the strange Indian dialect. They told the Indians about the teachings of Christ and how to love one another, but the Indians appeared to be familiar with almost the entire gospel. So the missionaries asked the Indians if anybody had ever told them about Jesus Christ.
"We know him very well," they replied. "He lived in that hut over there for some time, but he left. We are waiting for him to come back again."
Our lives are filled with missionaries telling us about the gospel of Jesus Christ. At the same time, they tell us what sins are greater than others, who should or will be condemned to hell and who will enjoy the benefits of heaven for being a good Christian. There are even others who state their very explicit conditions under which they will accept Jesus as the Son of God and try to manipulate Him so that He will become a more tolerable Saviour. Too often, our mission in life is to force others to think like we do, otherwise they cannot be our friends, our husbands, wives, parents, even children. In the latter case, we do exactly the opposite to the German missionary. We tell our children about the love of Jesus for us all and on the same day, we curse and condemn people for being what they are or for not conforming to our narrow minds and specifications.
There is one primary thing I have learnt as a Christian. The beams in my eyes are so big that I will never be able to dispose of them. I have still not come to terms with all the anger, suffering and conflict that I have caused to so many people. I never will. It is a subject that often crosses my mind at night or during an idle moment when I recall with the greatest regrets what I had knowingly done. In those moments, I wonder how my life might have changed if I had another chance to do it differently. These recollections make me realize just how big a hypocrite I would be to lecture any person on their lifestyle, their preferences, their perceptions and their personalities.
So, I will not use this space to convert anybody to my way of thinking. Instead, like the German missionary, I will use it more constructively by relating my personal experiences with the Son of God and the Holy Spirit. Perhaps there is someone who reads this message and finds some comfort in what I have found. It is not intended for the strong or the firm whose perceptions of life, good and evil need no debate or refinement. It is not for those who boldly state their detailed specifications for the Creator before they are prepared to submit to worship. I will share my experience with people who are only too familiar with their own frailty and uncertainties about religion, life and the hereafter. You see, I think that all that we are in life and death is only by the amazing Grace of God. Not by what we did or didn't, are or aren't. (It would be wonderful indeed if I always remembered that!)
One day, a very old man held his two hands with the open fingers pointing to the other hand and slowly he meshed the ten fingers together. He told me that is life. While the two hands are still apart, all you see are loose ends, seemingly going nowhere. When you get older and the loose ends come together and mesh tightly into a pattern, then you realize that what you regarded as loose ends were in fact all the plans of God waiting to come together in your life. That is my experience too. I can't even tell you when it started but somehow, Jesus Christ always made His presence visible in my everyday life. Why me? I certainly don't know. I was lazy in school, did what had to be done but made it. My career drifted from law to finance, from science to marketing, from selling encyclopedias to exploring international trade and banking systems. For some reason unknown to me, I found Jesus always in my mind, to encourage me and to do what had to be done, even if my heart was not in it. When I was forty-five, I decided to start my own business in international trade and logistics and made it an instant and extraordinary success. Fifth Avenue, Bahnhoffstrasse, Main Street, time zones became everyday life. All the knowledge that I needed to succeed came from my earlier experience in each field that I described. Then the loose ends suddenly meshed and made me independent to pursue any life that I chose. One day, traveling between Geneva and Zurich by train, it dawned on me. In my life, this is as good as it gets. I had reached the pinnacle of wellness. That's when I started to make mistakes. The ones I recall with regret. My independence made me arrogant and self-serving. I hurt a lot of people, near me and at a distance. Once again, Jesus stayed by my side. Did he hit me on the head with lightning to bring me back to sanity? The opposite. He convinced me of the mistakes I made and how to correct the ones that could be corrected. Did I listen? Nahh! I just went along and made some even bigger mistakes.
I won't bore you with the rest. When I started to feel guilty, I didn't quite know what to do to correct my life. For much of it, it was too late. But all my supplications and prayers to get rid of this awful burden seemed to have no effect. The same submissions, day after day. The same effect. I still carried the burden. I decided it's no use repeating the same prayer over and over. I needed to record what was going on between Him and me. That's how I came to writing letters to Jesus. In each letter, I clearly documented my thoughts, my regrets my needs and wants. I never promised Him anything. I just asked Him what I needed and praised Him when I got it. We made agreements that when such and such happened or came to pass, it was an indication that I should do something that carried a burden of uncertainty. In this process, I was amazed that Jesus sometimes wrote back to me! Not in the Bible! I would write to Him about a subject and soon I would read a pamphlet or a small piece in a newspaper, so precisely in the context of my letter that it goes far beyond pure co-incidence.Some of the requests in letters I wrote to Him years ago, only materialized recently, at a time when I had far better judgment to understand the responsibility.
Dramatic events occurred. In 2007, I had a major heart attack and as I waited for death on a hard bed in the hospital emergency room, a total blackness that cannot be described appeared before my closed eyes. Icy coldness of death crept up from my legs. Then a feeling of unbelievable calm enveloped me like a warm blanket, wrapping me from head to foot. I knew that was as close as one could get to death without dying. I was only one step, a few seconds away. Then life returned and the activity of the medical personnel made me open my eyes and step back from death. The realization of what just happened should have freaked me out. It didn't. The opposite happened. I was as cool and calm as I could be with the realization that Jesus was there by my side the whole time. He had shown me death as close as I could get without dying and I had absolutely no fear of it. Since that night, whenever I close my eyes to sleep, the vision of a soft blanket appears, closing me off from the world and all evil. It appears in different shades, different textures, and different patterns each night. I now have no fear of dying since He took me by the hand to show me death.
My life came close to great harm on many occasions that left me bewildered afterwards when I realized just what had nearly taken place. A massive puff adder just where I was going to put my feet, working on a live electrical circuit without coming to harm, driving a car and nodding off to sleep, missing a doomed journey. Each time I know that if Jesus had not been there, I would have been in harms way. There is no uncertainty in my mind about His proximity and presence in my life. It has reached a higher dimension since I started to write my letters to Jesus. Am I going to heaven when I die? I really don't know. Only He knows. I am at peace with that certainty.