When He calls us by name

by Susan Stilwell


I’m teaching a series at my church on the Gospel of John. Chapter 20 opens with the frantic scene at the tomb. The women had returned with burial spices to prepare Jesus’ body, except there was no body. They alert the disciples, who are equally puzzled.

This verse struck me:

Then the disciples went back to their homes,
but Mary stood outside the tomb crying.
~John 20:10-11a (niv)

The men left, perhaps fearing the arrival of angry authorities. My personal suspicion, based on 26 years with my husband and 23 years raising a son, is that the men weren’t sure what else to do. There was nothing for them to do at the tomb, so there was no reason to hang around there. Plus, it was eerily quiet.

That kind of quiet stillness can be unsettling for many of us. Our culture bustles along and we pride ourselves on doing. Plus, the Bible has plenty to say about the perils of idleness, so we forge ahead, busying ourselves with projects and tasks.

5MfF pictureBut I wonder if there were times we shouldn’t be quite so quick to move forward. When a blessing might come if we’d be more like Mary.

And stay.

It was there in the garden, there in empty stillness of her grief, Jesus Himself appeared to Mary. With a comfort that only He Himself could offer, He lovingly called her name. Scripture tells us that she fell at His feet and clung to Him, perhaps even embracing Him.

No one else had such a tender, comforting moment with the Savior.

Tender moments with the Lord don’t come when we’re scurrying around trying to outrun our grief. They don’t come in the noisy places. Intimacy with the Lord comes when we’re willing to stay in those uncomfortably quiet places and wait for Him.

“In the quiet, the devout soul learns the hidden things of scripture,” wrote Thomas a Kempis.

bible open to proverbs

Mary didn’t have the benefit of the written Word, but we do. When we take the time to sit with Him and spend time in His Word, He meets us in that quiet, empty stillness. There, He calls each of us by name and comforts us as only He can.

Bible Photo Credit: ChristianPhotos.net

Email Author    |    Website About Susan Stilwell

Susan Stilwell is a wife to Steve, mom to Scott and Sarah. After that, she writes, teaches, blogs and speaks. If you want to see her get really excited, ask her about her travels to Israel! One of Susan’s favorite things to do is to chat over coffee. And don’t forget your smartphone and laptop — this former programmer is full of helpful hints! You can connect with Susan on her websiteTwitterFacebook, Instagram, or Google+

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Diane W. Bailey February 16, 2014 at 8:37 pm

Susan, this is beautiful! I especially love, “When we take the time to sit with Him and spend time in His Word, He meets us in that quiet, empty stillness.” God has blessed you so much with the ability to bring others closer to His heart. Love you, Friend!


2 Susan Stilwell February 18, 2014 at 1:21 pm

I love you too, Diane! I hope these lessons learned in the quiet will benefit someone other than me 🙂


3 Vonda Skelton February 16, 2014 at 9:07 pm

I love the reminder that Jesus appeared to a woman first. A bold statement from our Lord that He has a heart for women, especially in that culture where women were often treated as property. Thank you for sharing from your heart, my friend.


4 Susan Stilwell February 17, 2014 at 10:18 am

So true, Vonda. That early morning meeting in the garden speaks volumes to us 🙂


5 Vickie McCubbin February 16, 2014 at 9:10 pm

So sweet and tender. Thanks Susan. Rejoicing that your mom is enjoying Heaven.


6 Susan Stilwell February 17, 2014 at 10:18 am

Me too, Vickie 🙂 Thanks for your prayers.


7 Sharon O February 16, 2014 at 9:16 pm

Wonderful words … so sorry about your loss, pain is hard when it is raw and so deep. take care


8 Susan Stilwell February 17, 2014 at 10:19 am

Thank you, Sharon. Yes, I’m finding much comfort in the silence.


9 Lynn Martin February 16, 2014 at 9:34 pm

Oh Susan,
This is such a tender and beautiful message. It brings back an image of heads bowed and crying—but you kept a quiet watch and alerted us to Tom’s smile as Jesus welcomed him home.


10 Susan Stilwell February 18, 2014 at 1:15 pm

One of the sweetest memories I have, Lynn. So grateful you chose me to share it with you.


11 Mema Jeanne February 16, 2014 at 9:59 pm

Precious Child of God,
I didn’t know that your mother had died; I just knew, from you, that she had had a stroke. “And stay” in the quietness of Jesus as He sustains your heart during this season of your life. I will be praying for you as I do know what it is like to “give up” your mom “when God whispers her name.”
Praying for you and yours,
Mema Jeanne Rumbley, NC


12 Susan Stilwell February 18, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Thank you so much, Mema Jeanne. The Lord is most definitely sustaining me in this quiet time. It’s funny how unsettling the quiet CAN be, but then once you get used to it, you crave it! He is GOOD, even when life is not.


13 Kathleen Caron February 16, 2014 at 10:57 pm

Susan, these are lovely words of comfort for those times when we may be paralyzed by sorrow. In those times, it is okay to do nothing but be still and wait.


14 Susan Stilwell February 17, 2014 at 10:20 am

Isn’t it crazy that it’s such a big deal to give yourself permission to be still! Thanks so much for taking time to stop by and comment, Kathleen. I’ve really missed reading your words.


15 Dee Dee Parker February 17, 2014 at 1:13 am

A lovely post,Susan. I continue to pray for you and your family. Thank you for sharing.


16 Susan Stilwell February 18, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Thank you so much, Dee Dee. I’m grateful and honored to be one of the names on your prayer bush 🙂


17 Glenda Mills February 17, 2014 at 5:26 am

So sorry for your loss. I well remember the morning we got the call my own mother was called home to be with the Lord. It’s been almost 3 years now, but what a comfort to know our mothers are with the Lord, because He called their names.

My husband and I have been busy touring Israel for over a week now and tomorrow, just before our flight leaves to take us home, we will visit the same
empty tomb Mary faced that morning so long ago. What a Joy and privilege
To be here.

Like you, I want to be like Mary, to get still enough for Jesus to call my name and experience the comfort only He can give. Hugs to you dear friend.


18 Susan Stilwell February 17, 2014 at 10:22 am

I’m so excited for you, Glenda. Israel is one of my favorite places and I know you’re overflowing with blessings there. I can’t wait to see your pictures and read your reflections. There’s no place like it!

It’s especially sweet that you’d take time from your busy schedule to stop by and comment. Thank you so much.


19 Bruce Brady February 17, 2014 at 8:16 am

Well said, Susan. I believe this is why He told us to “Be still and know that I am God.” It’s only in stillness that we can focus our attention on connecting with Him. And when were still, we’ll hear Him call our name.


20 Susan Stilwell February 18, 2014 at 1:18 pm

You’re so right, Bruce. The stillness can feel uncomfortable at times, but there is so much to experience there!


21 Cathy Baker February 17, 2014 at 7:22 pm

The way Jesus loved, especially the women who followed Him, always stirs my heart.

What a blessed benefit to have access to the complete Word of God!

Beautiful post, Susan. 🙂


22 Susan Stilwell February 18, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Jesus really elevated us, didn’t He? And yes, to think that we can open His Word whenever and wherever — what an extraordinary blessing!
Love you, Cathy 🙂


23 Jeff Sweeney February 18, 2014 at 3:07 pm

I hope your Dad and the rest of the family are doing well. I trust Scott is doing much better and the boot coming off is one you can scratch off your bucket list. The Munster in law that has been with us four years has cancer and hospice comes to our home several times weekly. Dee and I have the morning, evening, night shifts and weekends. Say a prayer for Dee b/c she is wearing down. I keep telling her………


24 Hester Christensen February 19, 2014 at 4:28 pm


As always . . . beautifully said. 😉 God bless you friend. 😉 love, Hester


25 Ginger Harrington February 20, 2014 at 3:50 pm

Thanks for the beautiful encouragement to stay and wait.


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