A little over a month ago, I prayed, and the Lord answered me. Not in some indirect way. Not in His own time. Immediately. In my time. Burdened by the crushing weight of something strange that I had been wrestling with, I cried out to God in the heart of the moment, and just like that - problem solved.
It was literally the same kind of experience that so many broken men and women had in the Gospel stories - I once was blind, but I cried out on the side of the road and Jesus heard me, and now, I see.
Most Christians spend their entire lives of faith longing for a moment like this one. From what I hear from many of them, they never experience it. Most of us spend our lives trying to explain to someone else how we know that God answered us, how we interpreted all of the signs, how the impossible happened and so it must be Him. And we weave these tales around our faith that explain God's presence in our lives, but secretly? Most Christians spend their entire lives unsure if God has heard them or if He's answered them or if He cares. Most Christians don't get a, "Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me!" saving grace. Not like we read about.
And most seekers say that if they could just have an experience like this one, or be present when it happens, they would believe in God forever. It's the old sinner crying out from the pits of hell, "God, if only they had a sign..." and we say the same - if God would just show us, just one time, that He is real and powerful and loving, we'd be His forever. Whether we already believe in Him or not.
But remember that even many of the persons in the Gospel stories don't go on believing in Jesus. At least, not that we hear about. Some proclaim His name right away, but others...just walk away. He heals ten lepers, but only one comes back to Him. So there's got to be something more, then, to what it takes to believe if even those persons who stood face-to-face with Jesus had trouble with it, even when they were on the receiving end of His miracles. We need not - and should not - put so much of our faith stock into having a moment like this.
You'd also think that if you have this moment, you'd want to have another one just like it. And of course, you do. But think of those Gospel stories again. How many of these healed men and women started bombarding Jesus with all of their other prayer requests? How many blind men started begging for another healing?
The answer is...not one. Not one person in all the Gospels (or even the Bible, for that matter) experienced the miracle-working God first hand and whipped the church bulletin out of their back pocket or even their own personal list of persons whose lives needed touched and started declaring them to Jesus.
It seems natural, right? If God is listening and God hears you and God is in an answering mood and He's just done something incredible, something astonishing, for you, then that's the moment that you ought to get your whole list out of the way, right? That's the time you ought to jump on it and go for broke. If God's just handing out healings, then each of us knows at least a dozen persons who could use one.
Maybe even more than our five-minutes-ago self.
Yet, it doesn't happen. It doesn't happen in the Bible, and I'm telling you, it didn't happen on the street that night with me. Sure, I thought about it. The question popped into my head, "Wow! What else do I want from God? Now's the time." But the answer was...complicated.
Stay tuned for more....