The first time I flipped through the pages of the bestselling spiritual testament He and I, I was flabbergasted. He and I is the journal of Gabrielle Bossis, a French laywoman who lived in the first half of the twentieth century. In this book, Gabrielle documents her “simple talks” with Jesus, intimate conversations with Jesus that were real and personal. The great historian Daniel Rops wrote in his preface to the original French edition: “…here we breath the sweet fragrance of Christ.”
Whoa! I thought as I turned page after page. And then I turned to Jesus and asked, How come you don’t speak to me this way?
Immediately the answer came back: Because you don’t listen.
One of those stop-you-in-your-tracks responses that God uses to get your attention when he has a plan.
So, okay, I’ll listen.
As I walked down the hallway, I heard a quiet voice inside me say, You could help Sister with her bags.
So over I went and offered to help. I noticed that the more I responded to the invitations spoken in my heart, the more they came. The more I listened, the more I heard.
It was the beginning of something new and beautiful in my life.
“Loving you makes Me happy” (Jesus)
The bestselling spiritual testament He and I reveals the words of Jesus to Gabrielle Bossis, a single woman, nurse, and, in her later years, playwright, who lived in France in the early twentieth century. Bossis documented her “simple talks” with Jesus in her journals, intimate conversations with Jesus that were real and personal. After her death these journals were made public. Here are Jesus’ words to her on April 17, 1947:
The unfolding of My love in you is My personal happiness; I’m waiting for it. Everything that affects you touches Me personally. My friend, you are part of Me and I, your Christ, am part of you. Then why should I alone desire this close union? Don’t you also desire it? You see, it’s quite distressing for a friend to have to say, ‘Love Me. Think about Me. Serve My cause. Give Me your life.’ Don’t you think that the one who loves would prefer to have the other read his sentiments? And when this does happen, He is so deeply touched….”
With these words Jesus risks telling us he is in love with us and desires both our attention and our response. Jesus has a deep “friendliness” for us that he wishes we felt toward him. The simple talks in He and I between Jesus and Bossis hold the key to the development of this friendship with Jesus. No spiritual jargon, methods, or process. Just time spent with Jesus listening to his desire for us, his love for us, his suggestions for deepening a friendship.
“I give you everything for nothing” (Jesus)
One of my favorite words from Jesus to Gabrielle: “Keep in mind more often that I give you everything for nothing: all My heaven for your nothingness and for the mere pittance of your yearnings.” Yes. All of creation, the death and resurrection of Jesus, the sacraments and his Body and Blood given to me for food each Sunday or daily if I desire it, eternal life … all of this for the “mere pittance” of our yearnings for him. That yearning can stretch from “fulfilling our Sunday obligation,” zipping in and out of Mass, or “writing a check for a charity,” all the way to seeking Jesus present in everyone, every place, and everything. So many Christian lives, even when religious duties are meticulously fulfilled, are saddened because they lack the vibrant beauty of desire.
In reading the words of the Lord as recorded by Gabrielle, we discover that all Jesus is asking for is desire, which he defines simply as focusing our eyes on him no matter what we are doing.
“I will just say that Jesus is irresistible” (Amanda)
I found in the Amazon reviews for He and I these two I’d like to share with you. The first is from “Amanda”: “As a reader and lover of books, I prayed to Jesus to find me a book about Him that shows who he truly is and I came across this book. Jesus is soo… I cannot find the words to describe his character and personality I will just say he’s irresistible. My beautiful Jesus. This book is life-changing. It changed me.”
The second is from someone who identifies themself as “loves teaching”: “This book will change your life in soooo many ways. Every time I pick it up and read, it is as if Jesus is speaking and correcting me himself. It fits the situation every time. Amazing. You will develop your own love affair and love story with Him and He with you. You will not be the same person after you have read a few chapters of the book. You will come away with the sense of knowing who you are, who created you, and what is expected of you now that you know who He IS. Get the tissue out. It is a real eye opener. Life is hard and unfair. As I read the book, I could only handle a few pages at a time. Sometimes, it was one page and that was it. Everything about you will change.”
“I have learned what Jesus’ voice is like” (Sr. Kathryn)
So tonight I am looking through my own journal. Flipping through the pages, I see a little conversation with Jesus of my own.
Every interruption, Jesus, every request, every moment I am hidden behind the scenes is an Annunciation moment.
Without waiting for even a second, Jesus confirmed: It is I who am pouring you in Mary’s mold so that you may take on my features.
A gift to be met by a leap of the heart…
Yes, he responded. I’m bending your will so you see the advantage of mine. I’m shaping you.
By reading the words of Jesus to Gabrielle Bossis, I had learned what Jesus’ voice is like, the kind of things Jesus says, how he is interested in the things I am interested in. How he is always there, a silent Friend just waiting to enter into conversation with me. You could say I got used to hearing how Jesus speaks in an everyday life by “listening in” on how he spoke to Gabrielle.
Of course, I had meditated on the gospels, and applied the words of Jesus recorded there to my life, and tried to follow him in every way I could. But sometimes I just need something simple. I want to know I’m loved, safe, and wanted, just like everyone else.
This little exchange between Gabrielle and Jesus on September 17, 1937 expresses best what I am trying to say. Gabrielle writes about something she had witnessed: A little girl said to her father, “Give me your hand.” And Jesus tells her, Say that to me often.
My friends, Jesus doesn’t need grand statements or heroic heights of perfection from us. He leads us to happiness and holiness through simple presence and little actions. You can learn to recognize the way Jesus enters into the smallest realities of our life and teaches us what our hearts most want to learn by listening in on another’s conversations with the Lord.
Let Jesus’ tender voice fill your heart
Just a little bit every day is all you need. As your conversation partner, Jesus will teach you. You will learn to love his voice, to love his will, to love his people. You will surprise yourself at how easily you slip into this friendship with the Lord.
Jesus Speaking: Heart to Heart with the King is a new daily devotional based on He and I. It will release on September 14, 2019. Each day you will find a short Scripture passage, a few lines from Jesus as recorded in He and I, and a conversation starter for your own prayer. Listen in on Jesus’ conversations with Gabrielle Bossis and start your own.
His tender voice will fill your heart.
ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE? HERE ARE 5 WAYS TO GO DEEPER…
God has amazing ways of knocking on people’s hearts, awakening desires, arousing questions, provoking an unexpected spiritual fire. If you have enjoyed this article, and are ready to embark on a sustained spiritual journey, here are 6 ways you can join me on the journey:
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