The thing that Jane most feared in her life was failing. What if she should not come up to the expectations of her family. Her sister was a lawyer and her brother a doctor. About to start on her tertiary studies, Jane had taken on journalism. Her family had been disappointed in her choice. When had they not been disappointed with her? The considerably older brother and sister seemed to have all the desirable star qualities they wanted - Captain of football at school, star of all the school plays, socially central.
But Jane … Jane was different. Quiet and thoughtful, she had always filled her journal with her thoughts on school life, family, politics, people, animals. Her spare time had been occupied with painting, and it was true that the school had purchased three of her works for permanent display in the great hall. Her mother said it was “nice dear” and that she must call David and see what he needed for his visit to Canberra for the medical symposium and whether he would call on her friend who had moved there last year.. Her father agreed that it was pretty and turned to her sister to discuss the coming elections, and hear the latest stories of her legal wranglings.
Longing to please them and afraid to fail, Jane was teetering on depression. But you couldn’t be depressed and do journalism. They just didn’t go together.
“You’re not looking your usual cheerful self lately!” It was difficult to hide anything from the old friend who was doing an English major this year.
“Ah, it’s nothing”. Jane was no complainer.
“Not true,’ Jen always told it like it was – comfortably, directly. “Come on. Out with it!”
“Well, I don’t really know what the matter is. There’s nothing exactly wrong. I’m just struggling to get excited about anything – about university. I’m dreading it. What if I can’t do it? “
“Jane, you’ve always done everything brilliantly. Whatever is going on?”
“Like I said, I don’t really know except I can’t get motivated. I don’t know whether I can do this. What’s wrong with me Jen?” With a sudden great shudder the tears poured out.
“What exactly are you feeling Jane?” Jen had been studying theophostic prayer and had seen her mentor working with strong feeling.
“Miserable! Sick in the stomach. Frustrated”. It was good to talk to the practical Jen.
“OK I’m calling Pastor Ben . You need to see him immediately. This is Jesus’ business.” How wonderful it was to be taken in hand at this point, by tried and true friendship.
That evening, primed with steaming tea and lots of cushions on his cosy sofa, Jane listened as Ben prepared her for the prayer time to come.
To her feelings they added furious, rejected and terrified of failure.
“Now” said Ben “We’ll ask Jesus where those feelings got to take such a hold of you. As they bent in prayer and waited on Him, Jane returned to a dark place – comfortable, warm and wet, but where she felt great fear of something pushing, and prodding around her.
“Look for Jesus. He is there for you”. Ben sounded so confident. The first shadowy figure she saw had a papery smirk and didn’t feel right.
There He was in a pool of light.
“What do you want from Him?”
“I don’t want to be scared.”
“Jesus, I don’t want to be scared”
“What is there to be scared of?”
Jen cast her eyes around and saw that the first shadowy figure was gone. She looked again at Jesus. “Can I touch you?”
He held out His arms and embraced her with great gentleness. The shuddering sensation ceased and peace enveloped her soul and spirit as she received His tenderness.
They waited for her to rest with Him for a while. Later she reported to them that He had told her how precious she was and that He always watched her and would never leave her alone. He had given her the gift of a poet’s mind, He’d said, and that she was to treasure that mind for there was something special for it to do later on. Anger and the terror of failure were now far gone and she was wild about her career, certain, now, she could do it.
“Now I know why you love Jesus” she told Ben and Jen. I love Him too. Can I come to church with you?
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