“I can’t watch the news on TV anymore,” he moaned. “Not after last night. The scenes in the hospitals, the death tallies. I couldn’t sleep after all that crap.”
“I understand,” I murmured, wishing I could say something helpful.
“And the newspaper,” he continued. “I’ve read the local paper for years. Used to read almost every article. This morning I got through the whole thing in about five minutes. Skipped all the headlines, all the ‘news.’ Just more of the same stress-pit crap anyway. I think the media is trying to send us all into a panic. Yet, this morning, the best part about the newspaper was the comics.”
The frustration is his voice was thick, almost toxic. “Listen, I don’t want to come across as preachy and pushy—you know me.” I hesitated. In my mind I saw his eyebrows furrow, as I’d seen many times before. “But maybe you could find some peace by getting to know Jesus.”
“Oh, stop it. Come on. You know how I feel.” His exasperation came across clearly over the phone. Our weekly meet-ups at the coffee shop, like everything else, had gone remote. “Besides, even if there is this “Holy Spirit” of Jesus you’ve mentioned—well, all that God stuff is just too high and mighty for me.”
“I agree. I mean, how can we, as humans, possibly understand things that are so far above us? But—”
“So why are you pushing, I mean suggesting, I get to know Jesus, since as you admit, how could I know a being so much higher than me?”
“What if you could get to know the man Jesus?” I had an idea, maybe a way to help my friend find some peace in the midst of the panic.
“The man Jesus?” His skepticism oozed out of my phone.
“Yes. The man.” I took a deep breath, then dove in. “Jesus once walked the earth as a man, fully human, like you and me. Well, not exactly like us. But still, he was a person who experienced and felt a lot of the same things you and I do. What if you could know that person?”
“Right.” Again, I pictured him rolling his eyes with that goofy smirk of his. “So how could I do that?
“Well, read his story. No, I don’t mean the Bible. I know how hard it can be to understand it. But what if you could read a novel, about a man and the people who followed him?”
“Sure. As long as it’s a novel that’s NOT about the Coronavirus. But I still don’t get what you’re suggesting.”
“Listen. I know of a novel about Jesus as told from the perspective of people who followed him while he walked the roads of ancient Israel, people whom Jesus touched most deeply with his love and compassion.” I took another breath, so hoping he wouldn’t reject the idea. “I’ll give you my copy.”
“And how is this novel supposed to help?”
“Well, again, please don’t take this as preaching.” I had to talk fast, and get it out before my aversion to overly zealous evangelism grabbed hold and clamped my mouth shut. “But for me, what has helped me the most in coping with this pandemic is my relationship with God and Jesus. Look, I realize how hard it is to feel comfortable with them. Heck, it took me almost fifty years to get to where I am right now. But I think I followed a difficult path, at least for me. I think an easier path is to first get to know Jesus the man. This novel can do that for you. Once you know Jesus the man, either you can give up and turn your back on him, or go forward and more easily get to know Jesus, the Son of God.”
“So … where’s this novel of yours?”
Would you like a copy of this book? Well, since the paperback and ebook are not yet linked on Amazon:
Go here for the paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0578664070?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860
Go here for the ebook: https://www.amazon.com/We-Called-Him-Yeshua-Penn-ebook/dp/B0867BYTF7
And please consider sharing this with those who may have nowhere else to turn for help.