I am not a history buff. Two of my closest friends devour history, specifically church history. I don't get it. I like to think that it's because I want to live fully in the present, but that isn't being honest, not even a little bit. Truly I get lost. It takes a lot for me to get history, because I need to relive it in my mind's eye. My awakening moment arrived a few chapters into the first book in the Mark of the Lion Trilogy by Francine Rivers. I was stunned at how easily I devoured history in the context of a well-written novel, with well-developed characters. History moved from a series of dates and faceless events to people experiencing their present moments, I could know these people and experience history through them.
I have had a fascination with James since Middle School Bible class with Miss Williams. She had us memorizing passages of scripture from the epistles, writing notes in the margins, using colored pens, and gave us open Bible tests. The things James said to me kept bringing me back because my legalistic nature was drawn to him like an indoor plant grows toward the window. I could master nothing he told me to. But he said all that I knew in my heart to be right. Common sense for my mind that loved clean lines and wanted actions to mirror what we say we believe.
When my sweet mentor told me she was offering another Beth Moore study, this time James, Mercy Triumphs my heart did the equivalent of a double back flip off a balance beam. I knew it was wrong for me to take Gracie to childcare (for reasons I can't explain, but knew in my heart) and so I asked, with a bit of timidity and cloaked enthusiasm, if I could just buy the workbook and do it on my own.
So I am here now, right where God has called me to be at the end of week one, A Man Called James. I have plodded through more history than I enjoy, without the beauty of the carefully crafted fictional characters of someone else's imagination to sneak the history through experiencing it. Instead I was flipping back and forth through different books of the Bible, piecing together parts of the story. Moments I felt lost. Moments I sat and dwelt on a simple thought.
Then I sat down to write. Empty. Silent.
I went back to the characters surrounding James and Jesus. The women. Matthew 13:55-56 told me that Jesus and James had sisters. That's it. Just sisters. Nothing about the sisters. But I know there is so much more. The imaginative nature in me says there's a story there. Probably a lot of stories. What might I really learn about the man named James if I could see through the eyes of his little sister? Did one watch, listen, and see without the privilege of getting to share what she'd seen? Did one notice the minutia of the relational interchanges? Did one notice how Mom looked at Jesus, how she reacted when he was lost, how he seemed to get away with lecturing her in return, but without the arrogance that some of her other brothers might have tried? Did one notice that Mom had a special connection to Jesus, different than the rest of us? Did one ever overhear the brothers talking about Jesus? Did one notice how Dad looked at Jesus, just a bit differently than he looked at James? Did one ever talk to James about how it made him feel? Did one in the quietness and privacy of her own thoughts give curiosity more and more room? We know that Mom hid these things in her heart, but did one of the sisters too?
And now I find myself almost breathless, eager to hear whatever James wants to tell me about who he knows Jesus to be. He wasn't Jesus' sister, but he was his sibling too.