(From the great room of our dear friend Jay Grelen, Maumelle, Arkansas).
We're visiting Jay for a whirlwind trip to record his Christmas book, "The River Whispers Her Name." We've been reading the book in our family for nearly ten years each season, and recently came up with the idea of producing a CD version. Originally, Frances was tabbed to read the book, but the narrator of "The River" is male. It just didn't seem appropriate for her to do so, and who better to do the reading than the author himself? (who has a very nice voice, by the way).
My history with Jay is very interesting. He wrote columns for the Mobile Press Register from 1993-1999. He became a beloved figure in our city during that time, and the mention of his name still brings smiles to faces, and the comment, "I cut out and saved a bunch of his columns when he was here." Interestingly, Jay and I never met face to face while he lived in Mobile. We had one brief contact by mail when I responded to a column he wrote about his beloved daughters, Samantha and Rebekah. We still have his response, "Dear Mr. Davis..."
When Jay and his family left Mobile, I was disappointed, along with a lot of other folks in town. I found his email address at the Daily Oklahoman in Oklahoma City, where he had taken a position as a columnist. I wrote Jay to tell him how much we would miss his writing. And, I did something I have never done before or since. I asked if he would be interested in receiving the Orange Moon devotionals, which we had just started writing and sending out the year before. Jay is the only person, other than family, to whom we have ever made that suggestion completely unsolicited (we only send the Orange Moon messages to those who have requested them, or whom a friend has recommended). Little did I know the blessing of friendship and fellowship in Christ that would result.
As he is to so many, Jay is an inspiration, example, and expression of our Lord's character to us. Jay is Jay. What you see is what you get, and what you get is what you see. That's not something you can say about a lot of people (although let me say that so many of you who read the devotionals fit that bill also). Jay and I have spent hundreds of hours on the phone, and sent thousands of emails back and forth in the last ten years. Our face to face time, however, has been limited to perhaps 5-10 hours during his infrequent returns to Mobile over the years. To have a day in his direct presence, therefore, is a gift of God to me and Frances (who feels the same affection for our dear friend and brother.)
There is an obvious spiritual analogy in this.
"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face" (I Corinthians 13:12).
One day we shall see our Savior. We will hear His voice. We will touch Him, and perhaps even the prints of nails and the wound of a spear. We will smell His holy fragrance, and in every way, our glorified senses will rejoice in the joy of "face to face" (as Frances just said, "that's what we have senses for!"). As the old hymn so beautifully expresses, "What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see!" The thought is beyond thrilling, and in this brief time with Jay, our Heavenly Father has given us a foretaste of an unspeakably wonderful Day to come.
On the way to Maumelle, Jay and I were talking by phone about our limited face to face time, and how different it would be to have more than a few hours in each other's direct presence. It goes without saying that it's been as blessed as we expected it to be. I thank God for the gift of this wonderful time, and again, for the hope and expectation it foreshadows. We shall see the Lord Jesus face to face, and in that holy moment, every longing and dream of our hearts will be filled and fulfilled forevermore. What a Day that will be...
"For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
(I Thessalonians 4:16-17)
(Personal note to Jamey: we'll be going back by your route through Memphis, my friend. There's some dark and lonely stretches of highway between Mobile and Little Rock, especially when traversed in the middle of the night!)