The summer of 1971 is memorable simply because that's the year my great adventure with Danny began.
Since we were all of 15, lived 18 miles apart across the center of the metropolitan Denver area, and weren't yet eligible for the "privilege" of driving in the great state of Colorado, a lot of our early courting took place over the telephone. Since my brothers and sisters and I were each allowed only one phone conversation per day, a lot of those conversations occurred in the dark of night, after everyone else in both of our homes was fast asleep.
One Saturday afternoon, the kitchen wall phone rang and Mom grabbed it first, answering it with the requisite, "Carlson residence."
People had been confusing Mom and me on the phone for years. We sounded just alike, and she took full advantage of the situation, sporting a cheshire-cat grin throughout the ensuing conversation.
To Danny's question, "What are you doing?" she responded, "Baking a peach cobbler." Impressed, Danny said, "I didn't know you knew how to do that." She replied, "Oh, there's a lot you don't know about me."
The conversation continued for a few more moments, until Mom finally said something, no one remembers what, that cued poor Danny in on the joke she was enjoying way too much. "Ummm," he finally said, "is Dawn there?"
As soon as Mom handed me the phone, barely containing her laughter, I quickly ascertained whether or not Danny had said anything that would land me in hot water once our 10 minute (another iron-clad rule) call ended. Relieved by his response, we made the most of our limited time to talk and didn't speak of it again, except to join Mom in laughing about it through the years.
Mom only got away with her ruse because Danny and I were still getting to know one another. Whatever she said that gave away her identity must have been something Danny knew I would never say, or the conversation would have continued for the full 10-minute allotment and I would have missed out altogether. Now that we have more than 40 years together, Mom wouldn't get past "Carlson residence," if the same scenario played out today, and not because our voices have changed, but because Danny knows all of me, not just the sound of my voice.
Jesus warned the Pharisees in the 10th chapter of John, that anyone who tries to enter the sheep pen by any other way than the gate is a thief and a robber, explaining that sheep listen to their shepherd because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, in fact, they will run from a stranger because they do not recognize his voice.
That passage always troubled me, because although I understood that Jesus is the Good Shepherd, I had then, and have now, no idea what his voice sounds like. After all, this generation of believers is 2,000 years removed from the first century, when Jesus was here, in the flesh. How am I to follow someone by the sound of his voice if I have never heard his voice?
Danny's sister, Cathy, and her husband, Bob, came out to McCook about a year and a half before Bob died. As is our custom, we settled around the kitchen table to visit. Danny would start a story, I would chime in, mid-sentence, and finish it for him, or vice versa. After a couple of hours of that, Bob and Cathy said, almost in unison themselves, "How do you guys do that? It's like you're one person."
Quite simply, it's the time we spend together. I know him and he knows me (and loves me anyway!)
Our relationship with Jesus is the same. It's the time we spend together. The only way to know what Jesus said (and is still saying, as he lives forever) is to open the book where his words are recorded (sometimes helpfully rendered in red) and read it, take it in, sit silently while he etches it in your heart. Don't be afraid to let him know all of who you are. I promise, he loves you anyway. And if anyone comes to you with any other word, claiming it as truth and it is in opposition to the words our Savior spoke, run! They are thieves and robbers, bent on your ruination.
The question, "What would Jesus do?" was the subtitle to the 1896 book "In His Steps" by Charles Sheldon. It became a catch-phrase that inspired all manner of merchandise some 100 years later. I still have the WWJD bracelet given to me as a gift in the 1990s. As noble as the thought is, however, the phrase is not interchangeable with the question, "What did Jesus say?" In following Jesus, it isn't enough to know what he did. We need to know what he said. More than that, we need to know who he is and why we should listen to him, obey him and follow him.
It has taken me more than 40 years to discover who my husband is and it's been worth every minute. I think it will take all of eternity to explore the entirety of who Jesus is and based on what I've learned so far, it will be worth every minute.
"A voice came from the cloud, saying, 'This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.'" Luke 9:35 (NIV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him; together.