Intimate Encounters with Jesus of Nazareth
(The greatest struggle we’ll ever engage is the struggle with ourselves. As painful, as our internal struggles are the outcome eventually will define who we are.)
“Jesus, I am so tired of struggling. I know deep inside struggles are signs of growing pains but they are depleting my spiritual strength. I know it has been said that we’ll not be given more than we can endure but it’s me that is doing the giving and not anyone else.”
Pausing momentarily to watch the beautiful sunrise suddenly what looked like an hourglass began forming on my windshield. Quickly thinking the window was fogging up I unfastened my seatbelt reached forward and began wiping the glass. The window was not fogging up. By the time it had completely materialized, I guessed it to be about eight inches in height and nearly 4 inches wide. Like all hourglasses, the sand was slowly draining from the top to the bottom. But there was something strange about this hourglass. All of a sudden, I realized the sand was not accumulating at the bottom as it fell from the upper chamber and through the narrow neck it suddenly disappeared.
Not really believing what I was seeing I pushed the switch that controlled the window in my door. “Whirr,” the motor sounded as the window disappeared into the door. Once it stopped, I scooted over closer to the door and leaned through the window searching for the same spot on the horizon I was looking at through the windshield. Why I did, that was beyond me but there was nothing there. Moving my head back inside the car the hourglass was still there.
If that wasn’t strange enough the radio, which was off, abruptly came to life and I heard an unfamiliar voice say, “Gary, this is your life.”
No sooner had the voice finished when the last of the sand left the top of the hourglass empty as it did everything disappeared. “What happened?” I heard myself saying.
“Am I dead?” I asked aloud, as I put my right hand to my throat in order to feel a pulse.
“I’m not dead. At least not yet,” I said, noticing my heart rate had accelerated.
“Am I blind?” I asked aloud, reaching for the steering wheel. It was gone!
“Where am I?” I yelled.
“What’s going on?”
My heart began pounding harder and harder. My breathing became shallower and faster as it tried to keep up with my racing heart. I began swinging my hands and kicking my feet wildly as if I were drowning but there was nothing there.
Sitting at my computer now and looking back the only way I can come close to describing it would be my body no longer existed. It was dark but it wasn’t cold. I wasn’t falling nor was I floating. I knew I was alive but I didn’t have a body. I wasn’t dead because I could not only feel my heart beating and air going into my lungs, but I could hear my voice.
I’m not sure how long I thrashed about like a mad man but the more I did for some strange reason the calmer I found myself becoming until I was finally able to begin thinking about what was going on and what to do next.
Somehow, in the back of my mind I knew it was because of my prayer. “What’s going on Jesus?” I yelled.
When I heard no response I found myself thinking maybe Jesus didn’t have anything to do with it. Maybe Satan was behind it. “Satan, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I command you to be gone!” I shouted as loud as I could.
Again there was only silence.
Then suddenly I could see a small point of light. It reminded me of a small star twinkling against a black sky. Instinctively I reached out for it and as I did it disappeared. When I pulled my hand back it reappeared.
“Will someone tell me what is going on?” I shouted again.
“Why should I?” I heard my own voice coming back at me.
Caught off guard I remained silent. Once I composed myself I called out, “Who are you and what are you doing to me?”
“I am you.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“That’s simple enough. I am you. Is that so hard for you to understand?” My voice replied.
Getting frustrated I answered back, “look one minute I’m sitting in my car seconds later I’m transported to only heaven knows where. To top that off I am talking to a small point of light that sounds like me. Now what in the H E double toothpicks is going on?”
“Hey! No need to get angry. I wasn’t aware of the fact that you didn’t know what was going on. I guess that confirms one thing.”
Interrupting myself, “that confirms what?”
“It confirms what I’ve known for some time now, you are a loser.”
“That’s right Dilbert Dumbutt, a big L-O-S-E-R, loser you and that spiritual hogwash you believe in. Jesus this! Jesus that! Jesus was the biggest loser of all!”
“Who are you?” I shouted.
“I told you I’m you!”
“If I’m you then where are we?” I countered.
“You don’t know? But then how could you being the loser you are.” My voice replied.
Without waiting for me to say something, “Look around you. We are deep in your spirit and that tiny white dot you see that’s what little spiritual life we have. And when that is gone I am going to celebrate like never before!”
This was getting unreal.
Inside my spirit?
That was impossible.
I wasn’t sure what was happening to me or who or what the strange voice was that claimed to be me but I wasn’t buying it any more. My biggest problem was I didn’t know what to do.
My mind began racing. Do I keep my mouth shut? Do I argue with who ever or what ever the voice is? Do I pray? Do I begin acting like a mad man again hoping someone will see me in my car and call the police or someone?
“A real winner would know what to do. Only losers face hopeless situations,” the voice said.
“How did you know what I was thinking?” I quickly asked.
“Duh! We are one, stupid; I know what you’re thinking all the time.”
Getting angry, I yelled back, “if that’s so why don’t I know what you’re thinking?”
“Cause you’re a loser that’s why!”
Trying to calm down I shouted back, “If I’m a loser what does that make you? A winner?”
Finally, the voice made a crucial mistake. Or so I thought, “Hey! You figure that out all by yourself, dummy?”
Inwardly smiling I continued, “If I’m a loser and you say you’re a winner we can’t be the same person. Now, who the heck are you?”
After a few seconds, “thought you had me didn’t you? I felt a little twinge of victory coming from you. Felt kinda nice didn’t it?
“Who the heck are you?” I demanded.
“Don’t blow a heart valve or something. In that idiotic book, you call the bible I’m known as the flesh. I’m the real you all your spirit is just a figment of your own imagination created because of some stupid imaginary belief in a Super Creator. What a L-O-S-E-R!”
“What the heck are you talking about?” I shouted back.
“God, you idiot! On second thought, add Jesus and the Holy the Casper Ghost in too. All of them are non-existent losers dumped into the mindless spirit of any dummy stupid enough to fall for them. Can you see anything right now?”
“You know I can’t,” I snapped back.
“That’s the reality of that spiritual crap that’s been hammered into you all these years. Here’s the reality of life.” Suddenly I was back in my car overlooking the lake. In the distance I could see several small boats bobbing up and down on the waves. Across the river was Point Edward with its high rise buildings. To my right was the Flag Plaza honoring the 9/11 tragedies. Just as I was about to say something it was gone and all I could see was the tiny point of light now even smaller.
“This is not happening!” I screamed.
But there was only silence.
“Are you still there?” I inquired.
Again only silence answered back.
“I know your there I can’t see you or hear you but I can feel you,” I said.
Without waiting for an answer, I found myself saying, “Satan, somehow I know it’s you at the bottom of this and I’m still not going to give in. The bible says, ‘he who is in you is stronger than he who is in the world.’ And Jesus is in me therefore you have no power over me. Be gone!” Never in my life had I felt so strong and powerful.
“Look,” I heard my voice replying, “The spiritual world does not exist. There is no God, no Jesus, no Holy Spirit, no Angels, no Satan, no Demons, no heaven, and no hell. There’s only the past and the future that we will create. When will you believe me?”
This time it was my turn to be silent. If whoever it was or whatever part of me was trying to bait me into denying everything I believed in, if they thought I was some wimpy loser they were wrong.
“What’s a matter cat got your tongue? Or should I say has God got your tongue?”
I remained silent still formulating my own offensive strategy.
“Ah, is the little wimpy loser praying to thin air?”
Suddenly it was time for me to speak, “Thank you Jesus, I was wondering how I was going to answer the questions and comments that have been put to me. I am glad that in the past the Spirit has encouraged me to put my roots deep. It was my understanding that the testing of my faith would come from Satan not from my own unbelief but now I understand. How best should I approach my own egotistical self?”
Suddenly I remembered a quote from the 3rd Chapter of John so in a loud voice, “What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
My alter voice reacted quickly, “there is no Spirit therefore no spiritual birth.”
Almost instantly, in my mind I could see portions of the 7th Chapter of Romans and quickly began quoting them, “For I don’t understand what I am doing. For I do not do what I want—instead, I do what I hate. But if I do what I don’t want, I agree that the law is good. But now it is no longer me doing it, but sin that lives in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For I want to do the good, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want! Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me. So, I find the law that when I want to do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God in my inner being. But I see a different law in my members waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”
“I know what you’re up to and it’s not going to work. I am the essence of your life there is no more.” I noticed the voice wasn’t as forceful as it was awhile ago.
Just as I was about to reply an unfamiliar voice spoke out, “The Spirit is the one who gives life; human nature is of no help! The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.”
“Whose voice was that?” My alter-voice asked.
“It wasn’t mine,” I replied. “Wasn’t it you?”
“We’ve the same voice, dummy.”
“Well if it wasn’t ours whose voice was it then?” I replied.
After a few minutes of silence, “well, whose voice was it?” I asked a second time.
“I don’t know whose voice it was. You probably disguised our voice somehow. But it doesn’t matter anyway it doesn’t prove anything to me. We’re still all there is in our corner of world. Now the sooner you let go of that nonsense the sooner we can get back to the real world and get on with our life.”
“You know what I just discovered?” I asked.
“You finally figured out I was right there is no God or any of that other stuff you pour our life into.”
“That’s not quite right.”
“What is it then,” I interrupted myself.
“It doesn’t matter what my fleshy self believes it’s what my spirit that believes,” I replied.
“Okay, for argument sake I’ll bite. So continue on genius.”
“Well, the way I see it in a couple of months we’ll be the big six four. Do you know what that means?” I asked myself.
“We’ve wasted nearly 64 years of eating, drinking, and having fun?”
“Wrong! It means in 15 maybe 20 years you’ll be dead and I’ll still be alive.”
“What do you mean by that remark?”
“I thought you were the smart one? I’ve a simple question for you to answer, a real no brainer.”
“Go ahead ask away.”
“Do you want to be non-existent?” I asked my fleshy voice.
“What kind of a question do you call that?” My alter-voice replied.
“One that demands an answer, if we believe what you believe when we die they will fill us with embalming fluid, put nice clothes on us, make us look good, say a few nice things about us, then put us in a beautiful wood box then bury us and that will be the end. Poof no more us. That’s what you believe isn’t it?”
“It isn’t what I believe that is important it’s what you believe you’re the one holding us back.”
I could tell my alter-voice was beginning to weaken. But with that last statement he opened the door for me to show him that the flesh is the loser not the spirit.
“So you admit what I believe is more important than what you believe?” I asked.
“That’s what I’ve been telling you all along. You do have a little bit of smarts left in you after all. Just stop believing in all the stuff and let’s get on with life.”
“Wait just a minute,” I replied.
“Wait for what?”
“I’m not about to stop believing in the only reality that exists in the world. There is a God. Jesus Christ is real. The Holy Spirit is real. Unfortunately Satan is real. There are Angels. There are Demons. There is a heaven. There is a hell. If the Spirit is the one who gives life then I am the master not you. Therefore you’d best start believing in all that stuff with me cause united we stand divided we will fall. And the fall will be great!”
As I waited for a reply the small white dot disappeared and as it did a cold wind blew across my face. Suddenly I was aware my surroundings had changed. Reaching to the side I felt something hard, smooth, and icy cold. Pulling my hand quickly back I realized it was a stone. Crouching down my hand bumped into the same thing. Standing up I instantly realized I was in a tomb. But I wasn’t dead. Not yet anyway. I tried to call out but I couldn’t hear my own voice. But I wasn’t afraid in fact never in my life had I been more at peace.
I stood for what seemed like hours waiting for something to happen when all of a sudden there was a tremendous explosion of light temporarily blinding me. Several seconds later when my eyes readjusted to the light, I discovered I was standing outside a tomb. Next to me was a man I immediately recognized as Jesus. Turning to my left I noticed on a distant hill stood three crosses two of them were empty. One of the empty ones I knew was Jesus’ the other I knew was mine.
Instantly Jesus put his arm around me and pulled me into his chest. I wanted to ask him what had happened that had taken me to another level but suddenly I knew and neither of us spoke we didn’t need to the empty cross and tomb said it all.
Seconds later, I was snatched back to reality by the sound of a semi-truck on the Blue Water Bridge. And deep inside rather than feeling spiritually depleted I realized a new found strength yet strangely enough it wasn’t really a new found strength it at all it was a reacquainted strength that had somehow become hidden by my five senses.