What we know about Jesus is this: he lived on earth as we do, made a living the way we do, had friends and went to family celebrations and felt joy and sadness just as we do. It’s important to remember that he experienced fully an earthly life, because it means one thing: he knows. He understands.
That’s also one of the tenets running through the book He and I, the journals of French laywoman and mystic Gabrielle Bossis: Jesus spoke to her in her heart and she recorded it all, years of conversations, and what unifies those years of conversations is the deep sense of understanding. Jesus knows Gabrielle, just as he knows every one of us.
Reading He and I is like reaching into your own heart. Gabrielle asks all the questions you or I might be asking. Is God listening to me when I pray? What is God’s purpose for my life? Why do bad things happen to good people? Where will this all end? How do I move forward when there’s so much holding me back?
Let’s look at six instances where Gabrielle asked some of the questions we want to ask, and how Jesus responded.
How do I stop living with the ghosts of my past?
You know what this is: the things we’ve done that we’re not proud of, the uncertainty about God really having forgiven us, the regrets we carry in our hearts for things that now cannot be undone, those nagging fears we keep pushing out of sight.
Jesus’ answer to Gabrielle: “Don’t ever give way to the distress that keeps you aloof from Me. Be sure that My goodness is infinitely greater than the sinfulness of My children. If you didn’t count on Me for help, to whom would you turn? Hope and trust to the utmost in Me, and you will honor Me.”
Is God listening to me?
Sometimes it seems we feel we have to get “prayer” right. Maybe we feel we haven’t. That we’re not good enough or don’t know enough. That others pray much better than we. We hope God at least notices us and, as one friend said, takes note of the good things we do.
Jesus’ answer to Gabrielle: “Don’t aim at saying an exact number of wordy prayers. Just love Me simply. A look of your heart. The tender smile of a friend. (…) If you have the intention of loving Me when you pray, I’ll accept your prayer even when you are distracted.”
Why does God let bad things happen?
One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the gift of fortitude, and if ever there were a time we need to claim and exercise this gift, it’s in the face of the unanswerable questions, in the face of the existential despair we all feel and that to some extent permeates our world.
Jesus’ answer to Gabrielle: “No, it’s not an illusion. You’re not in error, only in the shadowland. Just feeling your way by faith. I planned it this way. So throw yourself into My arms. Say that you believe, that you hope, that you love and commit your entire being to Me. Act just as though you could see Me. It’s such good practice for your faith. And faith brings hope and love.”
Is God still here if I can’t feel him?
Sometimes I don’t feel it’s there, this relationship. Sometimes I can’t pray. Sometimes I even find it hard to believe. But that’s when I start to realize the value of faith: faith that believes, that knows it is in fact there, even when I can’t see it. Especially, perhaps, when I can’t see it. Knowing it’s real, no matter what. Looking for it everywhere.
Jesus’ answer to Gabrielle: “Do you remember when you were little how you used to hunt for Me? You would go and hide yourself in the dark room behind your grandmother’s kitchen. There, in the corner, was a large doormat rolled up. You would scramble into it, and when anyone called out, ‘Where’s Gabrielle?’ you would say to yourself, ‘I’m with the good God.’”
Does God really have a plan for me?
In the small hours in the dark, I ask the scary questions, both of myself and of God. Does my life make a difference? Why was I born? What’s my purpose here—and am I even close to fulfilling it? Many nights when I lie awake, I just can’t see through the fog of my own aspirations. What part of my ambitions is the fulfillment of my mission on earth, and what part of them is the feeding of my own ego? And if God has a plan for me, as scripture tells me is true, then why can’t I see it clearly? Where’s the blueprint?
Jesus’ answer to Gabrielle: “Lend Me your hand to write. Lend Me your voice to teach the little ones the living truth. Lend Me your gestures to love them. And to cheer your pastor in his duties, lend Me your kindness. In this way, through you, I shall be among them, among yours. Your influence will be increased and you will think less of yourself. ‘This is not the fruit of my own effort,’ you will say. ‘Jesus was there with me.’ Say it to yourself over and over again; it will keep you humble. And humility is truth.”
How can I grow in holiness?
Many years ago I would resolve that I needed to pray extra, or adopt a certain practice, or do special things in order to grow in holiness. What I really needed to do, and eventually learned, is that it’s the voice of the Lord that initiates any movement along the way. Many times that movement is mysterious. Sometimes it feels like we aren’t moving at all, or are moving backwards.
Jesus’ answer to Gabrielle: “You can’t compute holiness like a column of figures. A single act of love with absolute abandonment and trust can make a saint even at the moment of death. And how this honors Me! I am like Samson; I lose My power as judge when someone tells Me of his faithful love. Not because the love is so great either, but because it is the greatest he has to offer Me. It touches Me to the quick and I am ready to bend to his will and make it My own.”
We delve more deeply into these questions in our special six-day series on Gabrielle Bossis and her conversations with Jesus. If you haven’t done so yet, click here to receive the series for free.