“It is not good for a man to be alone. I will make him a helper who is his equal.” —Gen. 2:18 (literal translation)
The late night call to Barbara and me in Baton Rouge came from my mom in Mississippi telling me my dad in California was dying of cancer. Although I had only seen him once in almost twenty years, I knew I needed to fly to California to be with him. The next day I asked for a week off from work, booked a flight to LAX and stayed with my friends Gary and Cece in Garden Grove. The next day I drove Cece’s car to my hometown of Thousand Oaks, CA to spend the week with my dad in the hospital.
Although it was difficult to see my dad in pain, thinner than I’d ever known and, because he was too weak to shave, wearing a beard I’d never seen before, it was also difficult to be away from home. Yes, I missed Barbara, but there was also something else on my mind, something more basic, more substantial and not very “spiritual” that was calling me home: money.
It’s not like we were out of money. By our limited standards, we had a decent savings account after selling our home in Arkansas and moving to Baton Rouge. However, like most people I know, our money is limited and it was on my mind while I was in California.
Now that you know where my semi-spiritual mind wandered while I was visiting my dad, I also remember sitting at his bedside and thinking, I need to stay another week. Because such a thought was the complete opposite of my current thinking, I knew it must have been the Holy Spirit speaking to me. Naturally, I fought the thought of staying another week with a bunch of reasons it wouldn’t work. (Wrestling with God’s Spirit is one of the ways I get my spiritual exercise. I don’t recommend it). After finally giving in to the Lord, my next problem was how to tell Barbara I was going to miss another week of work without pay. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit already spoke with her.
One Sunday after church, Barbara was telling our good friend Michael Ferris she felt I should stay another week in California, but she was hesitant to tell me because I would mention the money. She was right, of course, and I would have if God hadn’t already spoken to me. Michael, who knew me well, looked at Barbara and said, “You just tell my friend Jim that sometimes Jesus wears a skirt.”
Later that day, during our regularly scheduled 4:00 pm conversation at the hospital in front of my dad, Barb told me what Michael said and it immediately made sense. Michael was right and I knew exactly what he was saying: Sometimes Jesus appears to you in the form of your spouse, and this is one of those times. I stayed another week and behold (!), our finances survived.
With the help of my friend Michael, this became one of those God-inspired moments that helped me to understand my wife, my “helper,” is my equal when it comes to living life in obedience to God. Eph. 5:21 says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Staying in California was my way of submitting not only to the leading of the Holy Spirit, but of also submitting to the wisdom of my wife, who hears God all on her own.
Sometimes Jesus wears a skirt. Sometimes Jesus wears a three-piece suit, or overalls with a broom in His hand or even in the clothes of a little child. If we are open to hearing Jesus speak to us in our every day, ordinary, messy and even financially limited lives, we may be surprised at the various ways He chooses to appear. Of course, I wasn’t really surprised Jesus appeared in the form of a skirt one day during a telephone call to California, for I was confident God chose my “helper” wisely. However, I did appreciate the wise turn of a phrase from my friend Michael and, as you can see, that phrase is still with me almost sixteen years later.
So, in what ways has Jesus appeared to you lately?