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On a roller coaster with Jesus

What’s the world’s biggest, tallest, fastest, jerkiest roller coaster?  That’d be the one that’s been taking my emotions on a ride for the last week or so.  I hope I can make a semi-coherent post out of this.

Last weekend, I drove to Nashville for a publishing workshop from The Master Seminars. What a privilege that was:  Brainstorming with my top-notch agent and a top-notch marketer, making new friends, catching a new vision for my writing.  I was on top of the world–or at least on top of the roller coaster.

Sunday morning, I drove home and started catching up on email and Facebook.  Thanks to Facebook, old friends are popping up everywhere, some from as far back as the Jesus Movement days.  Oh, the memories!  That ‘seventies hair.  Street evangelism, baptisms in the Pacific, guitar-fests in public parks.  Excitement in the air. Jesus loves sinners!

On Monday I learned that a friend of ours, in need of his medications, had gone missing on Saturday.  It was horrible to go to bed that night, wondering where he was sleeping–if he was still alive.  To wake up Tuesday and learn that he was still missing.  But then came Wednesday–yesterday–and the news that he’d come safely home, thanks to the kindness of strangers.

Yesterday, too, I read Denise Spencer’s update on her husband Michael’s condition. And I cried.  I already knew his prognosis wasn’t good; maybe it shouldn’t have hit me so hard to know he’s going into hospice care.  I don’t even know him except through his blogs, the Internet Monk and the Boarshead Tavern.  Yet his writings have changed me with their emphasis on the good news that Jesus loves sinners.

Last year, I guess it was, I was excited to hear that Michael Spencer was writing a book.  That he’d signed with a literary agent.  That WaterBrook Press had bought his book, Mere Churchianity.  I don’t remember the timing, but mixed up somewhere with the good news was the bad news about the cancer.

There was another man whose online writings changed me, too.  His name was also Michael, but he went by Mike or by “Metochoi” in a Yahoo discussion group that he guided through extensive studies on the biblical meaning of grace.  He happened to die on the very day that my agent forwarded an email from WaterBrook, offering to buy my novel.  I’d hoped to email “Met” with my good news and tell him he’d helped me find that novel’s theme of grace and freedom, but it was too late.  I could only ask God to whisper it in his ear.

Now I’m crying again.

Sometimes, a beloved brother comes safely home to the arms of his family.  Other times, beloved brothers will go safely home to the arms of Jesus. And the roller coaster thunders on, but its noise can’t drown out the song:

Jesus loves sinners!

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