For those who are new here, I have 5 children. Before becoming a mother, I was under the ignorant assumption that there were only 2 possible personality types for our future children: mine (SO MUCH EXTRA!!!) and Bradley’s (does he even have a pulse?). This assumption was naïve and stupid.
All 5 of our kids have completely different personalities. They all carry the Knight flavor: musical, personable, great sense of humor, flexible, easy-going. Each have a glimpse of both of their parents (even our Ugandan babies), but they are individuals, all unique in their own way.
Except my middle child, Harper. She doesn’t have her own personality. She has mine. Harper is an exact clone of her mother. On every level. For better or for worse.
Aside from being wildly hilarious, fun-loving, smart, and kind, you will never meet a more Type-A child, or a more organized and deliberate 12-year-old than Harper Ryan. She’s a list-maker. A labeler. An alphabetizer. A color-coder. A problem solver. A detail-lover. She doesn’t miss an assignment. She doesn’t miss a question. She loves a plan. She is never late. She thrives on systems and processes and procedures. She has no choice but to be the leader because nobody can do it better than her and don’t get in her way thank you very much. Perfection is the goal. Every hour of every day. And it drives me crazy. Because she’s just like me. And I don’t know how to make it stop for either of us. Thoughts and prayers appreciated.
Harper’s love language is physical touch. She loves to snuggle. She will still hold my hand while walking in public. She lives for a pedicure because she enjoys her feet being massaged. She requires multiple hugs per day from most family members. She needs to cuddle on the couch before bedtime. She stays near me when I’m home, sitting at the kitchen counter while I cook dinner, or hanging out in my bathroom while I get ready in the morning. If I have an errand to run, Harper is always the first (and usually the only) to volunteer to join me. She thrives on alone time with me and Bradley. In other words, Harper flourishes in close proximity to us.
And her proximity is nearly always rewarded.
None of my kids get as many secret treats, toys, or treasures as Harper. The top drawer of her nightstand is full of some of her favorite things: earrings, colorful pens, stickers, journals, notebooks, and novels. The girl has developed a deep love for a mocha Starbucks Frappuccino with no whip. She has a collection of fuzzy slippers, robes, and blankets. All perfect for snuggling. She has an assortment of knick-knacks from her outings with me and Bradley. Harper is on the verge of being spoiled rotten by her parents.
But why is this? Why does Harper seem to have more favor than her siblings? Is it because I love her more than I love my other 4 children? Nope. Not at all.
Harper receives more blessings because she chooses to stay near me and go wherever I go.
When I have to make a Target run, Harper will come with me. She knows she can ask me for a pack of stickers and probably receive it. Or if I go to the grocery store, Harper will join me. She knows she can ask me for her favorite cereal (Fruity Pebbles) and probably receive it. Or if I need to fill my car up with gas, Harper will accompany me. She knows she can ask for a Gatorade and some candy from the gas station and probably receive it.
I happily buy these things for her because I love giving gifts to my children.
We have an amazing example of the power of proximity recorded in all 4 gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection. Our heroine? Mary Magdalene.
There are many factors that make Mary Magdalene unique. Among them, she was personally healed from demon possession by Jesus. She then followed him and his disciples from town to town, financially supporting his ministry. There are several passages in scripture that indicate that she must have had a profound friendship with her Messiah.
But Mary Magdalene wasn’t just a fair-weather friend.
At Jesus’ crucifixion, when all of the disciples had scattered, Mary Magdalene stayed until the bitter end. She witnessed Jesus’ utter abandonment by his Father and his followers. She remained near the agony of his overwhelming despair and complete humiliation. She heard Jesus cry, “It is finished!” She watched him breathe his last breath.
But even then, Mary Magdalene didn’t leave Jesus.
We’re told in the gospel of Mark that Joseph of Arimathea asked for Jesus’ body so he could properly bury him. After his body was customarily wrapped in linen, he was then laid in a tomb with a huge rock against the entrance. Mark 15:47 says, “Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were watching where he was laid.”
In other words, come hell or high water, Mary Magdalene stayed in close proximity to her Savior.
And dang. Her proximity was rewarded.
Because of her refusal to leave Jesus, Mary Magdalene knew exactly where his body was laid on that blessed Sunday morning. She knew precisely which path would lead to her beloved Teacher. She arose early to anoint his body with spices, only to find that he was not there.
Matthew 28:9-10 says, “Just then Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ They came up, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus told them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.’”
The phrase “go and tell” is translated from the Greek word apostellein, where we get our English word apostle. Not only was Mary Magdalene the first witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, she was the first apostle commissioned by Jesus to “go and tell” the good news! She received the greatest reward and the most beautiful blessing of seeing her precious Master face-to-face following his resurrection. And was then given the highest honor of proclaiming the gospel to the world.
Why is this? Why was Mary Magdalene chosen over everybody else? Was it because Jesus loved her more than the other men and women who followed him? Did he favor her over all the others? Was she better than everyone else? More spiritual? The most eloquent? The most impressive? Why was she chosen?
Mary Magdalene was chosen because she was unshakable in her determination to stay near Jesus.
That’s it. That’s the bottom line. Mary Magdalene showed up. And kept showing up. And her proximity was rewarded.
What’s your proximity to your Savior today, Friend? Where are you? Where is Jesus? The beautiful news that I have for you is this: because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross and the gift of his indwelling Spirit, we don’t have to strive to be near him. Accessing his friendship isn’t a struggle. His presence is as close as the mention of his name. What a blessed relief. He has already done the heavy lifting for us. He is bending towards us, aching to draw near. We have the privilege of being as close to Jesus as we want to be. It’s up to us.
When we make the decision to press in to his presence, to linger in his company, incomprehensible blessings abound. Among them: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. When we decide to stay with Jesus, we get special gifts along the way. Just like Harper. We get to be the favorite. The apple of his eye. His beloved daughters. Because that’s who we are. Just like Harper.
When I was younger, I used to ask my grandmother Kathleen if she had a favorite grandchild. I’ll never forget her answer. “I do have a favorite grandchild. Whoever is with me at the moment.”
Friend, let’s be with Jesus. In this moment and every moment. Let’s be his favorite. I want his presence. I want the grace, blessing, and power found in close proximity to him. Don’t you?