Revelation 3:20: Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.
“I went to your room, but you weren’t there. As we were walking back to our class, I heard your voice in this class so I knew where you were!” exclaimed sweet James. He and some friends had brought me a cupcake, one of many cupcakes that he had brought to share with his class and special teachers to him because it was his last day at my school. I have taught him for the past four years and always look forward to seeing him. His family had the opportunity to move to a different state with his dad’s job so this day held our last moments face to face. I hugged him and told him that I would look forward to hearing from his mother about how their family would be doing in their new state.
I had to teach my Technology class with iPads in a Kindergarten class due to some online testing in the Computer Lab where I normally teach. James knew my normal location so his words have continued to resonate with me when he said, “…I heard your voice in this class” meaning the Kindergarten class that I was in so he knew to bring the cupcake to a different place. When you recognize the voice of the one you are looking for, you can walk toward that voice, arrive and talk to the person like James did to me.
His sweet words have caused me to think about the voices to which I have listened. I know that Jesus tells us that He is standing at “the door” and is knocking. I have to choose to listen for His voice and welcome Him into my life. Sometimes other issues seem to also be knocking on my heart’s door which can clamor for my attention. James knew I must be at school since I’m a teacher so he just kept listening as he passed by classrooms until he heard me. Some of my life’s moments have caused me to walk to destinations that I had not originally planned to go, but even then, God kept knocking.
When I was 12, I heard Jesus knocking at my heart’s door during a time of uncertainty which wedged between my childhood and teenager years. My mother received a cancer diagnosis in January of 1983. I distinctly remember the moment when I found out while standing in my bedroom holding my mother who had fallen on my shoulders in despair. I grew up that day.
I walked into my house through our car port’s door after school as a carefree 12 year old but was told by my mother that she had gotten a test result back that showed a tumor in her kidney. Before this moment, my mother had started having severe lower back pain and felt relief from the medicine in Tylenol. At the time in the early 1980s, someone was putting cyanide into Tylenol so Tylenol was pulled from all store shelves for a long time. Once she could no longer take it, she decided to go to the doctor to see why she was having the back pain.
My mother came into my bedroom, tears streaming down her face, and told me the news. The doctor had called with test results that her pain was coming from a tumor in her kidney. She was relieved to finally know the root of the pain problem, but now, there would be a new road to travel. My father, mother and I went to the hospital for her to have more tests. Waiting for results and not knowing what would happen for a while was so hard. Finally, Dr. Peterson shared, “Her cancerous tumor is contained in her kidney so we will remove it.”
My father reached out and called all of our family friends and begged them to pray for mother before and after the surgery. He loved Jesus but this cancer caused him to pray fervently and ask for prayer for my mother. His voice would crack and wobble as he sat at our kitchen bar revealing the details to various family friends on the phone. I listened from down the hallway in my bedroom. He was holding on to Jesus and wanting others to ask Jesus to help my mother. I had trusted Jesus as my Savior and prayed before this time, but now, I needed His healing touch for my mother. The doctor gave hope by telling us that one kidney could be removed but until it was done, I nervously waited and prayed.
While other pre teens were concerned about the trends of the early 80’s, I was experiencing God’s comfort that my mother would survive even through this ordeal. While mother was in the hospital, Gwen, our neighbor, brought us tiny ham biscuits with mustard and poppyseeds. Pound cake arrived from a church friend. Our small church family prayed for her and comforted us with their words and acts of service. Many friends visited us at the hospital, brought flowers to bring cheer and would always pray for my mother at the end of their visit.
After her surgery, she recovered then went home within the week. With the help of doctors, nurses and the Holy Spirit of God, she got better. She has a large scar to show where the kidney surgery took place. In my soul, I never was the same. I didn’t have a scar, but I had a desire to honor my parents and listen to them and Jesus. He had helped us through this difficult time so I knew that I needed Him. The only way to do this was to keep listening to His voice through reading the Bible, listening to Bible teaching at church and by having personal devotions at home. It was during this time that I started reading Guideposts devotion books that my mother had ordered which had a Bible verse and devotion for each day of the year. I loved to read how God worked in the lives of others now that I had seen him work in our lives.
I am thankful that Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” I know that God needed my attention so he knocked on my heart’s door through my mother’s sickness. I already knew Jesus, but I began to hear his Word in a new way through Bible reading and through messages at church. It was as if messages were just for me and my heavy heart.
My mother was going to be okay so I learned to praise this God who had done so much for her, for me and for our family. I learned to play hymns and choruses on piano and closely read each verse and chorus. The Holy Spirit had inspired so many people to write songs that spoke of holding on to Jesus. The Gaither song, “Because He Lives” and “There is a River” which our church choir sang offered so much hope in Jesus. I developed a love of praising God and really internalizing the message in the songs. We didn’t just hold a hymnal and sing by rote but we sang and rejoiced over how God had helped and would continue to refresh us. My mother returned to leading hymns at church during the music part of the church service. When I heard her voice as she led the congregation in worship, I knew that she was singing as one with a true testimony of God’s goodness and grace.
Once I heard His voice, I loved to talk about God and discuss His word, like when you sit and enjoy a delicious meal. I liked dining with Jesus better than the smorgasboard of the world. I felt that He wanted me to notice him not as just the Jesus that Sister Broach had taught me about at church as a child, but as the One whose voice meant everything. His Words comforted my mother, my father and me and helped us fellowship with others in ways that would not have been possible without this crisis.
We continued to lift my mother up and pray for no other cancer to be there and God has answered our prayers with decades of her presence. Her tear stained face shared the awful news of the tumor in 1983, but she has also prayed over me, with me and for my family for close to 35 years since the surgery. I thank God that it was His will for her to live. At times during my life, my mother has read to me Isaiah 43:2, a Scripture which has been a source of comfort to her as a result of her diagnosis and helps me to keep my trust in the Lord:
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
He loved me enough to knock at my heart’s door and continues to dine with me as I read His Word, as I do my life’s work as a teacher, wife and mother, as I pray and worship Him. Perhaps I wouldn’t have heard him as clearly without this crisis of my mother’s cancer. I heard His knock and His voice. I wanted to be with Him instead of being trapped by popularity and pain from unwise decisions that I saw my counterparts making as a teen.
It continues to be my choice if I open the door to Jesus. If I listen, I notice Him and hear Him. Even now, I know that He is knocking and speaking to each situation that I face. It is up to me to let Him into my concerns. Just as I waited for answers when my mother had cancer and walked through the doors of my house and the hospital, God will always be standing and knocking on my heart’s door. He wants to be there to comfort me and not leave me, but I have to open the door to Him, spend time in His presence and allow Him to restore, refresh and renew my mind. His Holy Spirit draws me to Him, yet I have to respond to His knocking on my heart’s door. He stands waiting for me to look and listen for Him. His fellowship is everything to me.
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