There is a hole in my Christmas tree. You know, a spot where the branches are not full. I was going to try and turn the tree but so much effort went into getting it up right, so we left it. “You can always just put an ornament there”, my husband said. I have these gold metallic word ornaments my mother gave me as a gift many years ago. They say things like “Noel, Savior, Emmanuel”. I took the ornament that read “Jesus” and placed it in the hole on the tree. You almost miss it, but when I sit back and look – there Jesus is, filling in the empty space.
Well over a decade ago, I prayed that God would help me hear His voice and be obedient when I did. One random day, while in a Waffle House with friends, I felt the presence of someone walk up behind me. I turned to watch a man go sit in a corner booth not far from me. He was alone and looked to be grading papers. He had light blonde hair, a large nose and a mole on his face, otherwise, I don’t remember much else about his appearance. What I do remember is the overwhelming feeling that I was to go over and speak to him. I began to wrestle with God in my head. This was not exactly my thought process when praying that prayer, but here I was having to believe this was from God because this was certainly not self-motivated. At the end of the meal, my friends paid, but I was lingering. I had not told them about my internal battle. I knew this was a big moment. Would I be obedient as I had prayed, or would I walk away and always wonder?
I walked over to the gentleman who peered up at me from his papers. I mustered up the courage to say the only three words that kept playing on repeat in my head. “Jesus is real.”
I literally ran away before he could say anything in return. I was getting into my car when I heard him call for me, “Excuse me, ma’am.” He walked across the Waffle House parking lot and said to me, “I was born Jewish and recently converted to Christianity. I have been struggling with if Jesus is real.”
I have never seen this man again. I don’t know anything else about him or his story. But I know mine. About a year later, my life was turned upside down. Circumstances in my health and life brought lows and sadness that I did not expect to recover from. In my grief, I wanted to forget God. I’d rather He not exist at all than to feel betrayed by Him the way I did. But through that journey, my Savior and my Friend kept repeating the same three words that He whispered to me in that Waffle House long before – “Jesus is real.”
I do not share this story often and now even with some trepidation. I do not have any special communication with God that all of His children don’t also possess. This is not a common experience for me or most people I know. While the God of the universe has the power to move heaven and earth to speak to us, most often he uses the Word, the Church, and the Holy Spirit to speak truth into our lives when we take the time to listen.
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25-26
Live well friends,