PROGRAM W-1713 – Part I
Jesus often taught with parables—stories that illustrated his message—and it is a very effective teaching method. Because of this, for many years I’ve been telling an on-going fictional story of a woman named Fran and how she learns to turn to Jesus for wisdom and guidance in every area of her life.
Also, we need to learn how to practice the presence of Jesus in our lives on a daily basis. We know that the Spirit of God is with us continually when we’re born from above, but too many Christians don’t seem to be truly aware of his presence and the power available to them because he is right there beside us. I hope these stories help us to learn to practice the presence of Jesus all the time.
We know that Jesus doesn’t speak to us in audible words, but his Spirit within us can definitely give us clear guidance, which is always based on the truth of Scripture. So, the words of Jesus which I’ve written in this story are all true to Scripture.
Fran has had quite a few struggles on her job, but each time God has made a way and helped her do the right thing. This Monday morning, as she wakes to face another day, Fran is totally unmotivated. Nothing in her wants to get up and get going. So, she waits until the last minute, and then gets up in a rush. Getting her two kids ready to go to school turns out to be a bigger chore than usual, and she ends up raising her voice and arguing with them as she hurries them to get going. It’s not a good start for her week.
As she maneuvers through the bumper-to-bumper commute, she remembers that Jesus is there beside her, going to work with her again.
“Good morning,” he says cheerily.
“Morning,” Fran replies, hoping there won’t be any conversation. She’s not in the mood.
“Not a great Monday start, huh Fran?” Jesus asks.
She forces a smile, but still keeps quiet. She had intended, as usual, to spend some quiet time with Jesus early in her day, but she missed it today. Well, that happens sometimes, and Jesus will just have to understand, Fran thinks to herself.
“You seem a little angry this morning, Fran,” Jesus comments. “Do you know why?”
“No, I’m not angry; just tired. Guess I’m not in the mood to talk much,” she answers.
“Could it be the argument you had on the phone last night with your mother? There were some pretty strong words between you.” Jesus keeps pushing Fran to talk to him.
Now she is visibly angry. The last thing she wants to think about is the fight she had with her mother last night. But she tries to cover up her feelings, and says, “Well, we just don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, and sometimes Mom tries to tell me what to do. I’m a grown woman and I don’t like to be told what to do,” and even as she says the words, she’s knows how bad they sound.
“Do you think you treated her with respect, since she is your mother?” Jesus probes.
Fran doesn’t like it when Jesus starts asking these kinds of questions. She squirms a little as she weaves in and out through traffic, trying to be preoccupied with her driving and ignore Jesus. But he won’t let her do that.
“I’m sure you don’t always agree, but were those harsh words necessary, Fran?”
“Okay, okay, Jesus, I’ll call her today and apologize. It’s my fault; it’s always my fault!” Fran responds in frustration.
“I don’t think an apology will do you much good with that attitude, Fran,” Jesus replies, as they turn into the parking lot at the office. Fran is relieved they are there, because she really doesn’t want to talk about this anymore. She said she’d apologize; what more does Jesus want?
As they walk into the office, Fran finds a notice on her desk that a prospect has cancelled an appointment with her today. “Oh, good grief,” Fran exclaims, “I’ve waited two weeks for this appointment, got everything ready, and now he cancels.” She slams her attaché on her desk, and turns to take off her coat.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Lord, I forgot…” her voice trails off.
“You forgot I was here? That’s okay, Fran. But I am here, even when you forget,” Jesus says to her calmly.
Fran feels very ashamed, but what can she say? She’s just not in a good mood. She begins to think about what she said to her mother last evening.
“You know, Lord, I didn’t mean to be disrespectful to her, but she keeps giving me advice when I don’t ask for it,” Fran finds herself opening up to Jesus. She really hadn’t meant to, but somehow in his presence, she just has to be open.
“Was it that you didn’t like her giving unsolicited advice, or you didn’t like the advice she gave?” Jesus asks.
His incisive question catches her off guard, and she realizes Jesus won’t let her take a superficial, selfish approach. He peels off the layers and gets to the real core. He always does.
Tears start to trickle down Fran’s face. “Well, I’ve just been so lonely since Jim died, and this guy I met a couple of weeks ago—Bob—he’s been real nice to me. But my mother doesn’t think I should see him. It’s really none of her business, you know,” Fran hopes to win Jesus’ sympathy.
“You really think it’s none of her business? She has two grandchildren and a daughter to think about; she loves you very much. She has earned her right to state her opinion, don’t you think?” Jesus’ question reminds Fran of all that her mother has done during the years since Jim’s accident to help her and the kids. Of course, Jesus is right; her mother has a right to offer some advice.
“Well, she thinks it’s a mistake to go out to dinner with him because he doesn’t go to church or anything. But, she doesn’t even know him. . . ” Fran’s voice trails off.
“So, your mother doesn’t think you should be seeing a man who is not a committed Christian, like you, is that right?” Jesus asks.
“Well, I don’t know that he isn’t. . .” Again, her words seem feeble.
“You mean,” Jesus said, “after three dinners together, you still don’t know if he’s a believer or not? Haven’t you talked about me? Didn’t you ask? Can’t you tell?” Jesus is so direct that Fran is really uncomfortable.
“Well, the time just wasn’t right, you know, but I will tell him I’m a Christian. I did invite him to go to church with me sometime. I’m sure he knows what kind of a woman I am,” Fran replies.
“Fran, how long would you see a man and allow yourself the possibility of falling for him before you find out if you share a common faith? Do you recognize the dangers involved here?” Jesus directly confronts her.
Fran is struggling for an answer, when the phone rings. “Good morning, this is Fran, can I help you?” comes her standard greeting, and she is relieved to have the interruption. But as she listens, what she hears doesn’t go down well.
“What do you mean, you’re not going to make that deadline? Al, we had a meeting Friday on this very issue. You said it was no problem. I’ve made a commitment to the client. What’s the matter with you people over there in the art department? This is the second time you’ve blown a deadline for me, Al. You know, I work like crazy to get this business, and then you guys sit on your duffs and goof off and lose it for me. Do I have to come over there myself and get the job done? What is it with you people?” Fran’s angry words pour out at Al.
“Yeah, well, you haven’t heard the last on this one, Al,” and she slams the phone down with emphasis. As she does so, she remembers that Jesus is there and has heard what she said to Al.
“You seem to have angry words for a lot of people lately, Fran,” Jesus says to her with sadness.
“Listen, Lord, those guys need somebody to tell them off. They don’t care about the client; they don’t care about commitments. You can’t pussyfoot around and be effective in this business. It’s my job to see that my clients are served well, and I was just doing my job,” Fran says to Jesus defensively.
She opens her attaché, and laying on top is her Bible, which she carries with her each day. As she moves it out on her desk, the guilt moves in. “Oh, Lord, I can’t believe me. Listen to me. All I’ve done is hurt people with words lately, and you know what book I’ve been reading in the Bible—James, of course! ‘Behold, what a great flame a little fire kindles!’” Fran sits at her desk with her head in her hands.
“You really have blown it a good deal in the last two weeks, Fran. You’ve had some angry words for the children as well as your mother. You weren’t very kind to Karen at church yesterday, when she asked you to help her with the class party Friday night. . .” Jesus reminds Fran of yet another angry outburst.
“Well, she always asks me, like there’s nobody else in the class that can do anything. And I told her I’m not sure I can be there anyway; I’ve got a busy week this week,” Fran defends herself, knowing how lame it sounds.
“Really? Is that the real reason? Or were you just keeping Friday evening open in case a better option comes along, like this man?” Jesus doesn’t have to say anymore.
“I’m sorry, Lord,” Fran gets up to close her door, as the tears start to come. “I’m really sorry. I’ve been rotten lately. I haven’t spent any time with you, and I get angry at everyone easily. Oh, I wish I could just fall into a hole somewhere. I’m really ashamed of myself. Will you please forgive me?”
“Of course. You’re forgiven,” his answer is immediate and kind.
Can you relate to Fran’s predicament? It seems she has failed on every front lately, in every role. But of course, Jesus always is ready to forgive and restore.