I recently had the pleasure and honor of watching God’s authentic and transformative love work in the heart of a young man by the name of David.
It all began on a beautiful Sunday afternoon as I was driving to get dinner for me and my husband.
On my way to grab dinner for us, I felt the Lord telling me to pull my car over. I quickly pulled over and parked. I then asked, “okay Lord, what do you have for me?” and the Lord highlighted a trail head leading up the side of a hill I had just parked next to, “come up here, I have something to show you.”
When God speaks there are two responses we can give. The first is doubt and hesitancy followed by explaining away what we just experienced. The second is faith and obedience, even when it seems odd or irrational. I responded somewhere in between. “Really God, you want me to hike up a hill right now? In my flip flops? On my way to get dinner? You know I’m hungry.” Despite my initial thoughts, I snapped into “go” mode and found myself breathlessly climbing a hill side excited for the adventure ahead.
At the top of the hill I drank in the beautiful scenery all around me. The early evening was cool and clear and I could almost see all the way to Los Angeles. I began walking and asking God what He wanted to show me. I spotted a concrete water run off that split the hill top, it was marred with graffiti by local artists. What stood out to me were the varying belief systems represented in the art. There was a spray painting of Ghandi, symbols of Buddhist gods, and a Christian cross. I sensed a strong feeling of “confusion” and “misdirection.” I then asked God what exactly He wanted to show me and just then a young man rounded the corner of the hill, walking along the concrete paintings, and passed by me. I immediately took note that he was listening to music through ear buds and that he seemed at peace.
Recently, I have been learning about effective ways to help extend the Kingdom of God and spread the gospel. One of foundational lessons is to look for and engage “people of peace.” These are people whom the Spirit of God is already at work in their hearts and their lives. This is putting into practice the theology of prevenient grace.
I realized why God wanted me up on the hill. He was asking me to engage this young man for the sake of the Kingdom. My mind quickly hesitated and then doubted and tried to explain it all away but I knew that I was here to pray for him and show Him God’s love. After all, the worst possible thing that could happen was that I would ask if he wanted prayer and he would say “no” and I would go and get dinner; that’s not so bad, right?
As I walked up to him he immediately took out his ear buds and questioned, with a smile, “yes?” I apologized for interrupting and asked if there was anything that he would like prayer for. At this, a 30 minute conversation ensued where we both shared parts of our stories and spoke about our core beliefs and views on God, creation, and man kind. What struck me about our conversation was how open David was to sharing. I did a lot of listening and affirmed things he said and pointed back to truths in scripture while sharing from my personal experiences.
David, while created uniquely, has a pretty common belief system held by most young people I meet these days. In addition to being a Scientist, David believes in a blend of religions and has new age theology: all roads lead to God. God is everywhere, in us and around us. Jesus taught awesome things like love and peace, but there really isn’t a dire need for salvation or repentance, and the belief that Jesus isn’t the one, true God. Also, David was no stranger to meditation or to other realms and dimensions (like the supernatural). David shared with me that he meditates 2+ hours a day and is often aware that there are other dimensions open to us. David asked that I pray for peace and tranquility for him, which I blessed him with during our time of prayer.
Because David was clearly open, I decided to try a “thought experiment” with him. David was willing and jumped into his meditation posture with arms out and eyes closed. I asked David to envision meeting face to face with God in place where they were alone. With excitement, David shared that he was on a remote, tropical island. I asked if God was with him and he said yes. I asked what God looked like and he said he was a beautiful, brilliant light with colors in many hues. I asked if God was near or far and David said he was standing somewhat far away.
In moments like this, it’s incredibly important to show people that they can personally connect with God. I think we are too eager to “do the work of God” ourselves and pray and listen for others and “talk at” non believers (and believers!) about God. I sensed that God had some personal things to share with David so I asked, “God, do you have anything for David?” It went something like this:
David: Yes! I feel incredibly loved by God, like, love is just pouring from Him to me. All I can feel is love! Me: Thank you for your amazing love God! God, do you have anything else for David? David: Wow, well I don’t think I do this, but God just told me that he cannot be questioned. I mean, I never question God but…well…actually, I think I do question Him, a lot. Me: God, thank you so much for your truth and thank you that you cannot be questioned because you are God, our creator. Do you have anything else for David? David: Yes. God is telling me that I need to be humble, that I don’t know everything and I take too much pride in thinking I do. Wow. Me: God, thank you that you are close to the contrite and humble.
At this point, I could see that this experience was very emotional for David. His once open posture became more closed and withdrawn with tears in his eyes. Not necessarily in a bad way but in a “my mind was just blown and my paradigm shifted” kind of way. David just encountered His maker with love, and truth, like a double edged sword that pierced to the center of his heart.
Sensing that our time together was finished, I then prayed for David, blessed him, and coached him on how to connect with God in his times of meditation.
David thanked me numerous times for taking the time to talk with him. He also expressed things that shocked me like, “I have never met a Christian as loving as you and open as you.” David also shared that he had been hurt by other Christian’s who were judgmental and critical of him and his beliefs, including his own parents.
As Christ followers, we talk a lot about the importance of love, but how well are we actually loving other people? Especially people that we don’t agree with? My goal in life is not to argue people into the Kingdom, that will never work. Christ clearly told us to love God and to love others as we love ourselves. We need to put love on. We need to wear it and allow it to transform the way we think and the way we live. Sure, I didn’t agree with David’s belief system and I could have told him that. I could have pointed out his pride and his flaws, but I would have only hurt him and made an enemy. My role is not to judge, it’s to point all people to Christ. After all, God has a funny way of being the one who saves, convicts, and reveals truth to people. We are just called to LOVE.
…and above all of these virtues put on love which binds them together in perfect unity…Colossians 3:14.