May 9, 2012 by Jay Helms
That’s what I say when I agree with something. This week, I read an article in the Raleigh News & Observer that struck a chord with me. In the article the author presented his assessment of the responses he got from people as he has performed an experiment standing just outside the door of the church he attends regularly. He concluded that Christians are not a very joyful bunch, especially right after church. …Word.
I, myself, am an unashamed Christian. I love Jesus and I put my whole trust in him. And for the record, that does not preclude me being a knucklehead or surprisingly immature at times. That being said, this article reminded me of two lovely encounters I have had with people that I would like to share.
First, our family (wife, 8 year old daughter and 6 yr old boy and 4 yr old boy) visited my wife’s brother in Brooklyn 18 months ago. As we walked through the city, being happy to be there (at Christmas time), I smiled at people and briefly engaged people for a moment here and there, in a way I figure Jesus might.
My daughter Anna was taken in by the tall buildings and made the mistake of watching the buildings more than minding where she was walking, which led her face first into a metal pole. Ouch. She was embarrassed to the point of humiliation and turned away from everyone to hide her shame and sobbing. I got to her first and held her and as I did I felt inadequate in my attempts to deal with the shame part of her injury. I looked around and saw two African-American women, likely in their 50s walking toward us. Quickly, I enlisted their help, saying, “Ladies, I think we need a group hug here… can you help us out?” What I loved was that they did not hesitate for a second and they joined in and the four of us hugged right there on the streets of Brooklyn. And they loved on Anna in a way a Dad just can’t quite do. It was just perfect. It is a special memory for me.
And second, after watching the Passion of the Christ in the theater years ago, I sat in my seat unable to just get up and leave and go on about my life.
After five to ten minutes of me sitting there not knowing what to do next, two African-American women in my row got up to leave and needed to pass by me to exit. As they did, they could tell I was moved by the experience. As the second lady passed by she leaned down close and said, “It was beautiful, wasn’t it?” I started to cry and shake and mumbled in agreement. As I did she leaned down and embraced me, putting her cheek against my cheek, right where my tears were running down my face and we both held on tight to each other and cried. It must have been at least 30 full seconds of embrace I will not ever forget. I think this is what encountering Jesus is supposed to do to us.
I do not know who she was, but I expect she remembers me, too…and I expect she intends, like I do, to discover who it was she was embracing someday in the future when we will both recognize each other in the presence of the Savior, our one great eternal hope.