These last three years I have been able to go to Nichlaston House for a ‘Looking forward to Easter’ retreat, only this year, although it was only Monday to Friday in our timing, we travelled in our meditations from Maundy Thursday, right through to the day of Pentecost.
We were encouraged to participate in imaginative contemplations so that God might speak to us through our imaginings.
I was so happy to participate in this, as my writings and poems all come out of pictures God gives me. And I have learned to teach our children to pray by putting a chair for Jesus, asking them what they would like to say to Him and then imagining what he says in reply. I know that God speaks to me very often through my imaginings.
So when Sam (Samantha) placed an empty chair for Jesus, and then asked us to sit quietly and see what we imagine happens next, I was wonderfully blessed.
The next morning I sought to catch the joy of that time into words:
‘An empty chair? But you are there
I run, I kneel, and know my pain you feel
What joy we share at that empty chair.’
I won’t attempt to share all my meditations, but I remember how, as I stood with the crowd on that dusty Jericho road, it was not only the poor blind man who was calling out to Jesus, for I too had called out to Jesus, and together we had followed .
I too felt troubled and convicted in the Upper Room when Jesus told us that one of us would betray him, and I also experienced the tremendous surge of joy as the Holy Spirit came in mighty power on the Day of Pentecost. But out of all these meditations, I think I was impacted the most when Sam asked us to picture ourselves responding to God’s call after the veil of the temple had been rent in two.
You see, I had come with a special need. I often long for heaven. Is it those we have been closest to who will be in our special reception committee? I like to picture it so. But our greatest hope and longing is that we might see our Jesus face to face. But with all the multitude of the redeemed gathered throughout the ages, and those who have done so much, surely I will be far away. Will he, who is King of kings and Lord of Lords, even see me in the great throng?
But now, in my godly imagining I stood before the rent veil, the new and living way that had been so miraculously opened for me through the death of my Saviour. I heard God’s voice. He called me by my name. ‘Come. You must come alone.’
I came. I was welcomed as if I were the only one for whom God gave his Son. Not a plain chair this time, but a glorious throne. But then, taking me by the hand, he drew back another curtain so that we were looking out to a universe redeemed. There, from every nation and people and tribe and tongue, all were there worshipping our Saviour.
Among this great throng there was a place for me. The Father reminded me of Jesus’ words, ‘I go to prepare a place for you.’ he told me, ‘He has prepared that special place for you. His eye is always on you. How could he fail to be aware of you?’I drove home on Friday morning, knowing that each of us in the small company who had gathered had been deeply blessed. Doubtless we had all come with our individual needs, and God was sending us each on our way, deeply satisfied, knowing we could face all that lay ahead of us in the joy and power of our risen Christ.