I was a college kid working in New Mexico for a summer the first time I meditated. I couldn’t tell you at the time that this was what I was doing but it was meditating all the same. I had taken a copy of a book by Frederick Buechner to a grassy spot on the slopes of a mountain. I had a perfect view of the setting sun and kept repeating the line, “Come, Lord Jesus.” At that moment, staring at the sky and asking Jesus to come, I half expected to see Jesus coming down from the sky. Buechner had brought me to that point.
While many Christian pastors, scholars, and writers have focused on the first lines of the Bible, Frederick Buechner preferred to focus on the last line of the Bible. He often would end his sermons or essays with that line, “Come, Lord Jesus.” For Buechner, the end of the story was more important than the beginning of the story.
At the end, you have a chance to look back and see all that God has done and remember (one of Buechner’s favorite words) God’s big, and not so big, moments in your life. For Buechner, to not pay attention to your life and not acknowledge what God was up to was the worst thing a Christian could do. He taught me to consider that God could be working in the midst of my life. He taught me that a thread on a floor, a dream, a license plate, and a call from a friend could be just as important of a miracle as the healing that comes or the money that is in the mail. Buechner brought awareness to me of the great mysteries of life and to not be scared of them.
I was obsessed with knowing the end of Buechner’s story. I knew he was in his 90s and his end had to be soon and I didn’t want to be unaware of his death. I feared that I would miss the death announcement of this writer who had meant so much to me. So, without marking it on my calendar or writing it on my to do list, I found myself checking Google almost weekly to make sure Buechner hadn’t died without my knowledge. I couldn’t bear the thought of his death happening months before I was aware of it. I wanted to know that this man, who brought me to meditate, who opened up a whole new, beautiful God drenched world for me, and whose writings comforted me as recently as this last week, had reached his end and was meeting the Jesus he loved with “great laughter.”
The end of Buechner’s story came this week and I am grieving the loss. He joins Eugene Peterson, Brennan Manning, and Dallas Willard as spiritual heroes that came from another era and spoke from experiences that don’t exist anymore. I am sad that we won’t have their view of the world anymore.
Thankfully their writings live on and may Buechner be remembered as the great writer he was. But more importantly, may his writings still drive young men like me to seek God with great wonder and anticipation.
Come, Lord Jesus.