In Her Own Words
Oh, I've seen Him. I've seen Him many times as He passed by with crowds on every side. I remember the first time! It was hard to be sure, but it seemed as if He paused to look right at me. His eyes were so filled with compassion that I had to look away - and He passed by. When I looked again, the only reminder of His passing was an eddy of dust settling upon the road.
Then one day, He passed again. I heard a large crowd and went to my window. He was there, in the center and they were headed toward the lake. I grabbed a shawl and hurried after them. If He was going to say something I wanted to hear it.
We stopped on a grassy hillside that gently sloped into Galilee. He was standing on the lake shore. From where we sat, reflected sunlight in the water at His back, created a halo effect about Him. A stillness spread over the crowd and then He spoke.
His words were like water to my parched soul. For a long time afterward, I lingered by-waiting for an opportunity to talk to Him. Finally He turned to me and in His eyes I saw the same welcome that His words had made me feel. I fell on the ground at His feet and wept.
Through bitter sobs I told Him the dark, ugly secrets of my life. He listened without condemnation and when I finished, He knelt beside me and prayed in my behalf. I felt my guilt and uncleanliness drop away from me like the leaves of autumn. The winter in my life was over. Springtime had come.
Well, Jesus passed on to other towns, but I stayed in Magdala. Perhaps staying wasn't such a good idea, for the same old friends and clients kept coming around. It wasn't long before I found myself involved again in the life I had thought to leave behind. The old burden of guilt returned, along with sleeplessness and regret. I wished that Jesus lived in Magdala so I could go to Him for help.
I heard He was teaching at the north end of the lake, so one morning I set out to find Him. It wasn't difficult. When I got there, I saw a crowd gathered on the beach. Joining them, I discovered Jesus was teaching from a fishing boat anchored just off shore.
He was telling a story about a wayward son who journeyed to a far country and became involved in a life of sin. I could relate to the misery that boy felt as he fed pigs and thought of home! When Jesus pictured God rushing out to meet the returning prodigal, my heart leapt within me. There was even hope for people who knowingly became involved in sin. There was hope for me!
I found myself at Jesus' feet once more. Again I heard His prayers in my behalf, and felt the prodigal's joy in belonging to the family.
Sadly, I have to tell you my joy was shortlived. I returned to Magdala and my life of failure. But the Good News is that Jesus never gave up on me. Over the next few months our paths continued to cross, and each time I came into His presence, I felt welcome and forgiven. Finally, I determined to stay in His presence. And that is how I became a transformed follower of Jesus.
In the weeks that followed, I listened as He told us of the Father with stories I'll never forget. I saw the Father planting a vineyard and doing all possible for its growth (He even pulled the weeds). I saw Him preparing a wedding feast with a guest list that left out no one. On the darkest night, the Father was out looking for lost sheep. At midnight, He was helping a neighbor in need. He was the king who made the common man His friend.
He made the picture so clear! Just seeing Jesus, made me feel as though I had seen the Father. God loved through Jesus and as I watched Him, I began to understand where the love came from. He would rise up a great while before day and go out to some solitary place where He would pray. No matter how late He had gone to sleep or how tired He had been the night before, He always kept that appointment. Sometimes He would even spend entire nights in prayer and come forth refreshed and strengthened for another day.
I began to understand that I could have a relationship with His Father. In fact, He once said that eternal life was based on knowing God. At first I had difficulty believing God could be interested in spending time with someone like me. But as I watched Him in His Son, I knew it was true. Jesus mingled and mixed with common, everyday people, fisherfolk by the sea, farmers in the field, women at the well.
The Pharisees thought they slandered Him when they said, "He eats with publicans
and sinners," but to me they were speaking precious truth! God became man and sat at
the table with sinners! He was my Friend, and that has made all the difference!
Lesson 7 - Conclusion