Tell Me the Stories of Jesus
“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.” John 21:25
July 31, 2047
I’ve finally read all the way through Dad’s journals. I wish I had done it sooner. I have so many questions to ask him. Some of the things he wrote filled my heart with the love and totality of God—the sacred realities of life that the world cannot comprehend; I’m not so sure I understand them myself. Perhaps they were meant for him only. He wrote these things (the most sacred ones) in Portuguese, the language of his missionary service (same as me), to keep them from unprepared eyes. He was, without a doubt, a visionary man, that’s all I feel at liberty to say, even in my own records. I’m adding a few select entries here to my own journal as they correspond directly to my childhood. I want to make sure they carry on to my children, and beyond: or at least have the possibility of carrying on. I’m doing it the old-fashioned way—by hand. It’s significantly more meaningful than I expected—as though, somehow, I’m connecting myself back to him, vivifying his memory with my own hands. I can’t believe he has been gone for 2 years now. I could hardly hold back the tears as I read this. The following entry, dated August 18, 1998, is my own translation:
Isaac has had a hard time sleeping lately. I think it might be these long summer nights. Every once in a while, he will call for me as I’m getting ready for bed & say, Dad, I can’t sleep. I’m not sure what to do about it. I often feel so tired, or I want to spend time with Sarah, but I know it’s what the Lord would have me do. I was just with him now & we had a sacred experience together. As time passes, I feel exponential gratitude for him as my son. I sat there, rubbing his little boy hair to help him sleep, & I asked if he’d like to hear a story. He said, yes, tell me the stories of Jesus, Dad. I was taken back, it wasn’t what I was expecting. I said okay, & told him about Christ, how one time he was very tired, just like me, that he fell asleep on a boat with some of his disciples in the middle of the night. They rode across the sea & a huge storm came—loud thunder, lightning roared across the sky, & the disciples feared for their lives. All the while, Jesus just lay there in the ship, calm & sleeping—just like you should be, I told him—calm and sleeping. But his disciples were afraid, probably like you feel sometimes? I know I do, I told him. There are a lot of times where we get trapped in big black storms and never know how to get out. So what happened? He asked. Well, his disciples were really afraid, so they woke Jesus up & shouted, Hey! Look, it’s really dangerous out here! & Jesus woke up & stood, & when he stood he turned to the raging sea, saying “Peace, be still.” When I spoke these words to my boy, there was a stillness in both of us—pure peace, and I couldn’t hold back the small tears. And I said it again, “Peace, be still,” and a third time, whispering, “Peace, be still.” Losing my job has been a storm, to say the least. And staring into the eyes of my sweet son I could see the light of his youth—that future I must provide glowed in those boyish eyes. And therein I saw the peace of God, and I felt still, knowing He would provide. Then his little eyes swelled with the softest tears I’ve ever seen, shining through the dark of the night, & I asked what was the matter. He said, nothing Dad, I just feel so happy, and smiled that boyish smile. Then he told me, I love you so much. I leaned down to hold him as tight as I could, & could barely choke up the words—I love you too son, you are such a good boy. At that he closed his eyes and turned to his side. I went back to bed & read the account in Matthew, & two things spoke to me: “why are ye so fearful,” & “peace, be still.” It is a sacred duty to rear these children, & I am often too fearful of it. This was truly a holy night, & I give thanks to God for it. Of all the sacred things I have written in this journal, this may be the most holy and cherished yet. May I never forget it.
October 16, 2022
Where has my baby gone? Even now, at four years old, I only see the seeds of a little lady in those ocean eyes. She looked at me today and told me she loved me with the gaze of a Queen. How can time pass so as to not exist at all—where does it go? I thought today that, even at the resurrection, I will never see my baby again. She grows away from time, never to return into eternity. I try to grasp for snapshots of her infancy, but they slip through my memory like sand in the tide, sinking and blending farther and farther away into what she will become—an elect lady, a woman of God, just like her mother. I’ve been truly blessed to be her caretaker and father. I wanted to write this from just moments ago to preserve and remember (in some way or another) the beautiful things she says to me: to have something to keep from my baby. I love her. The following reads more like a fiction than my lived experience. But were it not for the scriptural, literary recordings of Christ in his life, we never would have had this memory together. And here I add to the story. Certainly, to hear Christ speak peace to the elements—in the physical strength of his personal timbre—would infinitely supersede any reading or representation of the same. That said, I’ll take it. I’ll take anything I can get:
Is it morning time, Daddy?
No sweetheart, you haven’t even gone to bed yet. Close your eyes and fall asleep.
I’m takin’ a hard time sleepin’, daddy.
I can tell, please whisper. I don’t want to wake your brother.
But Daddy, it’s getting really really darky in here, and it’s lettin’ me be saddy.
Go to bed, I love you. You don’t need to be afraid of the dark.
But Daddy, it’s gettin’ darky in here.
Heavenly Father made the dark so you can sleep. Okay? Sleep is very good for your little body. I’m in the room right next door, see? Right through that wall, right there. You don’t need to be afraid. I promise. Just please go to bed, okay?
But I’m scared of the dark, Daddy. Here, can you just cuddle me for a second? Just a second?
Daisy, you’re going to wake up your brother, please just go to bed.
Just one second… And she grabbed the back of my head and pulled me into her neck, covered in blonde-soft ringlets. How could I ever resist such a sweet and innocent embrace? I wrapped my arms around her back and held her into me. My little girl, no longer a baby. I kissed her cheek and remembered my own childhood. I wondered how often my Dad had listened to my infantile excuses for not wanting to sleep. I gave a prayer of gratitude for his patience with me and remembered the stories he used to tell me—the stories of Jesus.
Daisy, you know Jesus, don’t you?
Yes, Daddy. Mommy tells me stories about him.
Can I tell you one story about him, just right here, softly, in your ear? I’m just going to whisper. But it will help you fall asleep. Grandpa, my Dad, used to do this for me when I was a boy. But you need to fall asleep after I’m done, okay?
And I whispered into her ear in the black of night. Well, when Jesus was on earth, he and his disciples, those were his friends that loved him, they spent a lot of time going from place to place, trying to help people who were sick or sad or lonely and to help them feel the love of God.
Why were they sick and saddy and lonely?
Well, we all get a little sick and sad and lonely sometimes, don’t we?
That was why Jesus came to earth, to help everyone—because we all get sick, or sad, or lonely, or scared. Like you when you’re afraid of the dark.
I don’t like the dark, daddy.
I know. One day, Jesus and his disciples needed to cross the sea in boats to get to another place and help more people. But it was nighttime, just like now, and dark and stormy. The wind blew hard, and it rained down into the ships and blew the sea waves into the boats. And all this time, in the rain and storm, Jesus was asleep in the front of the ship, all without waking up.
Why didn’t he wake up?
I don’t think he was too worried, or he was really tired. He wasn’t afraid. But his friends, his disciples were panicking. They were very scared. They thought they were all going to die. Her eyes grew wide in the dark, shining their rich purity into the night.
They were really afraid, and they cried to Jesus, saying, Jesus! We are going to die, are you not worried? Then, Jesus woke up and stood in the rocky boat on the waves and said, why are you so afraid, don’t you have any faith? And when he said this, he turned to the sea and said, Peace, be still.
These last words came out slowly, gently, and purity filled the room—holiness at the very words Christ uttered from his own mouth so long ago, with so much power. And Daisy began to giggle. I worried she might wake Jacob up, who was sound asleep as Christ in the ship.
Shh! Stop laughing, you’re going to wake up baby brother!
I just feel so happy, she said, with muted laughter drowned out in her floral pillow. I feel really really happy, daddy, when you tell me about Jesus.
I pulled her close and looked into her smiling eyes and kissed her cheeks. Her smile birthed a smile on my own often melancholic face, bringing me a kind of peace I’d never felt before. There is holiness in a child that you can’t find anywhere else in this world. And I’m realizing that having children of your own brings this holiness into your life, and into the world. I suppose there is nothing greater anyone can do than to increase this holiness—the blessings only a child can give. I kissed her head and told her how much I loved her. She grabbed me, pulled me down and whispered into my ear, I love you too, daddy. Thank you for helping me feel peace and still like Jesus.
She turned to her side and fell into imperceptible sleep.
February 22, 2074
These are the things that you never really prepare for.
I’m sorry, it’s hard to hold back the tears. I just miss him so much. I know he is with Mom now. That brings me some comfort.
I see him here, in you, my kids. I love you all.
I’m so blown away by how many of you would come to celebrate his life. Thank you. Thank you to everyone who is here… I’m so sorry I can’t help the tears. Thank you to everyone who made this all possible. These flowers are all just unbelievable. They are so bright, so jovial, so much like mom. Dad would have loved them.
The veil feels so very thin. I’m sorry. Now I’m doing Dad’s cry-laugh.
Okay. I just want to share one story with you. I know Dad wouldn’t have wanted this to be about him, but about Christ. But, even still, I have felt the impression to share just this one story with you, my last memory with him from a few days ago. I feel like I need to share it. I wrote it down here in my journal so that it might live on a little longer than my mind will let me hold it. I’m going to just read it as written, from just a few nights ago:
I walked into the hospital room, feeling this might be the last time I would get to see him, at least for a little while. I believe in the afterlife, but it’s still hard to stare in the face. When a spirit leaves the body, all you’re left with is the flesh, empty, ghost-white. Clay in a bed, putrefying. The pain of staying this side of the veil can blind your spiritual conviction.
I walked into the room. He lay turned on his side away from the door toward the window. Rain kissed the glass panes as he called my name without turning. “I knew you’d come,” he said. “I prayed you’d come.”
“Hi Dad,” I said. “No, don’t get up, don’t turn around. Let me come to you.” I walked to where he lay and sat grabbing his wrinkled hand. “How are you feeling, Dad?”
“Oh, just the same—I miss your mom,” he smiled. “Each day I’m away from her is another day lost in my view. But then I remember I have you, and all is well.”
“Have the doctors come in yet? Have you taken your medicine?”
“Come here, Daisy” he said, ignoring me. “Come close. You have your mother’s eyes. Come closer, let me feel them, that I may remember.” He pulled me into him and kissed my cheeks with his thumbs on my eyes. “I love you sweet heart. I love you so much.” Tears pooled in the whites of his blind eyes.
“I love you too, Dad.”
He took in a few deep breaths, as if savoring the air flowing through his lungs: “Daisy, death is much like passing from this room to the next, and still I am rather afraid. I don’t know why. I’ve spent many of the last years longing to pass, but now that it’s here, I don’t seem to want to go through with it. I don’t know if I’m ready to see her. I don’t want to be unworthy of her.”
“Dad, you’ve nothing to be afraid of,” tears now fell down my cheeks. “I love you so much.” And in a moment, I remembered his voice to my younger self, as though I re-lived a memory stored away, precisely for today, exactly as it happened—him, telling me the stories of Jesus. “Dad, do you remember when you’d sit in my bed like this with me, when I was just a girl? You’d come cuddle me, hold me, and whisper the stories of Jesus in my ear. Those nights have left an indelible mark on me for my whole life. Those stories have been a source of incredible comfort on many different occasions. I’ve never told you how grateful I am for that.”
He smiled, “My dad did the same for me, sweetheart. But it wasn’t him, nor was it me, it was the story itself. It was the power in hearing the words of Christ.”
“One night, when I was especially scared, you told me about Christ calming the waters.”
“I remember that night. That’s always been my favorite of the New Testament. Tell it to me now, dear. You have your mother’s voice, it’s as if I can hear her.”
“Of course.” I held his hand and his eyes closed onto the white pillow and my heart sunk, feeling he might never open them again. “Christ wanted to get away for a little from the large crowds—he needed to rest from the world. He told his disciples to pitch their boats across the sea, even in the middle of the night through a pending storm.” I passed my hand through his silver hair and he lay still. “They must have had incredible faith as they went through with his request. And the seas grew sick and heavy and blew their winds and cast the boats every which way. All the while, Christ slept, peacefully. The peace was always inside of him, immune to the commotion in the exterior world. The peace of the entire universe was there, dwelling in his heart.” Tears choked my throat while he lay still, immobile, peaceful. “And his disciples awoke him in fear—Master, carest thou not that we perish… And Christ stood, and stared at his simple disciples and asked, why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith? And at that, he stood and rebuked the wind—Peace, be still.”
And there was stillness in the room, no breath from anyone other than me. I tried to awaken my Dad, there as peaceful and still as Christ on the raging sea. And all I could do was sing while my father slipped ever away in an infinite search for my mother beyond.
Peace, be still; peace, be still.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will:
Peace, peace, be still.
I tell you this because my father lived and died by the stories of Jesus. These were the treasures he stored and shared as my inheritance. I will be infinitely grateful to him for that. I love my father, and because of my father I love the Savior, Jesus Christ. In these, the stories of Jesus, I have my Dad forever: always there, vivified in the words of scripture etched into my heart by his own hand and voice. Christ lives, he is the Redeemer, and by him I will see my father and mother again. In Jesus name, Amen.
If you liked this story, subscribe here for more: