There's one person on the planet who holds the title of My Best Friend. We spent our last year of high school finding one another and knitting ourselves together with honesty and bravery. We wrote so many words to one another in college, paid for untold long distance minutes, visited, wished, valued. Her one beautiful life took her to Japan, then California, and then New Zealand and she never came back.
I haven't seen her in thirteen years. But when I sign up for accounts on websites and the secret question is, "What is the name of your best friend?" I type in her name. When I read the story of David and Jonathan I think of her because I still believe we are one in spirit and I love her as myself. When I was pregnant with my sons, each of them, I toyed with making her name my back-up name in case the baby I birthed was a daughter. Her impact on my life reaches from my adult beginnings and will persist unto my end.
This was a relationship wherein we could finish one another's sentences, where it wasn't tricky to have to determine how she would respond, how she'd feel, or wonder what pool of unhealth I might disturb if I was boldly me. While we had to work through some disappointments and misunderstandings, hers was never a thorny embrace.
I've been thinking about the disciples lately. Having found the one their culture was longing for, the fulfillment of all the stories, the hope of all the ages, they must have felt seen and known to be invited into his life. But then they had to learn to relate to him as a person. What must it have been like to see how painfully slow Jesus was at putting on his sandals, how he entered a home and ignored them so he could give the host his attention, how he leaned a little too hard on those he dined with and made his plans for the day that left so much wasted time. Did it ever bother them when he just disappeared to pray or whistled while they walked all those miles or laughed too loud at John's fishing stories? Was life with Jesus ever not quite what they were expecting?
It must have been. Because so many times Jesus puts them on the spot with questions, "Who do people say that I am? Now, how about you?" "Why are you talking about having no bread? Don't you understand?" or "Where is your faith?" And over and over again they seemed to be stumped. How they must have wracked their brain to think of the answer he was searching for. Perhaps they hoped, like my perfectionist brain does, to score the exact right answer. Being able to finish Jesus' sentences always must have felt like a test.
Did any of them ever get it? Aside from the time that Peter said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God," was there ever a gold star for their responses? What knit them together if they couldn't predict his desires? If they can't answer the Pharisees when they ask, "Why does your best friend eat with tax collectors and sinners?" or "Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax?" We never hear fantastic answers from these guys. They cannot speak the mind of Christ. Maybe they were smart enough to know they shouldn't try while Jesus was still with them.
This gives me great comfort because I'm weary of trying to finish sentences for Jesus. To the question of, "What does God want?" or "What now?" I can only answer, "I don't know. Ask him yourself." If you know him, talk daily to him on your own. I cannot give you your answer from Jesus. Get it from him. Watch his lips. Carefully notice his cues. Follow his eyes. Experience how tricky it can be and then show some grace for each other.
Some days I think I can know the mind of Christ. And other days I have to submit to the mystery. Is our Christ fickle? No. Does my self-importance get in the way? Most certainly. Can I finish Jesus' sentences? Only for me, but not for you. Only to declare him as Lord. That may be the only time we get it right.