One day, when working on a construction project, I was operating a very sluggish backhoe and was struggling to pull a huge stump out of the ground. I was fighting the levers and annoyed the return response was about 10 feet past where I kept indicating it should stop.
I was so focused on my job at hand that I was not noticing any action around me, knowing everyone knew to stay clear of the heavy equipment while in use.
As I pulled the levers for that final tug at the stump, the back hoe went swinging back in its usual uncontrolled manner. This time, though, it caught one of my co-workers in the mid-chest and threw him back 20 feet like a rag doll. If it were a drive off the tee, the shot would have been perfect.
I immediately jumped from the backhoe and ran to make sure he was OK. He was sitting up on the ground with his arms still crossed over his chest. We all inspected him to make sure there were no broken bones, and before I could launch into my safety speech, he said over and over again, “Jesus told me to stand up. Jesus told me to stand up.”
He had stopped to tie his shoes and was looking down when the sluggish arm came barreling his way. He heard the audible voice of the Lord say, “Stand up!” If he had not done that, the massive arm would have hit him in the head and most likely killed him. I think about how different our lives would all be if that had happened.
For those who don’t have a relationship with the God of the universe through His Son Jesus, it is hard to explain the timeless, ongoing conversation that occurs between us — which for most is referred to as prayer.
The prayer that morning was, “Lord, keep us safe as we work on these heavy, dangerous pieces of equipment and please keep us from all harm.” The answer did not have to be Jesus saying, “OK, Nina, I got your back, but look out for that backhoe because someone is going to walk behind it and you are going to hit them, but because you prayed they won’t die.”
Maybe for some, it is that direct — but for most, it is the knowledge you have petitioned the Lord with requests, in faith, knowing He hears and will be with you every second of the day.
It was Jesus who asked me in college, as I walked past a bush, angrily declaring I was going to break up with a boy, “Why are you so mad at him? He is going to be your husband.”
My reply was, “I wouldn’t marry him if he was the last person on earth.”
Then the reality sank in of what I had audibly heard: “Oh, my gosh. We’re getting married?” With just that word of encouragement, it changed my life. And yes, I did marry him — and we have been together over 40 years.
I could write a book about the times I have heard from the Lord in very specific, personal, and life-changing ways. Jesus does speak to us if we are willing to listen. (I actually have written this book. It’s called “How to Prepare for the Coming Apocalypse.”) It’s hard to explain the intimate relationship that God has designed for us to have with Him when you think about the enormity of who and what God is.
To put it in perspective, our sun is like a pea to a basketball compared to the giant star Canis Majoris — and it is dwarfed by many other larger ones in the universe.
If the sun were any closer to the earth, life could not exist because of the extreme heat, and just a fraction further out, and we would freeze.
God made man in His image to commune with Him, but He gave man free will.
Travel to a country with snow-capped mountains surrounded by warm beaches at the base with people sunbathing. A total eclipse of the sun is only possible because of the distance they both are from the earth, and each other. Any bigger and the moon would totally cover the sun, missing the spectacular corona. Any smaller and there would never be darkness in the event zone of a total solar eclipse, meaning there would never be a total solar eclipse.
God made man in His image to commune with Him, but He gave man free will. He was not creating slaves. After a while He realized it was hard for man to understand why God created us and what our purpose and individual destinies were, so He sent His Son, who came to Earth as man. He was a perfect man without spot or blemish, to commune, in a physical presence, with man.
When He died and was resurrected on the third day, He spent 40 days on earth teaching the disciples and loyal followers what it would be like after this historic event and the treatment they should be prepared for from the world. He told them that all Ten Commandments were fulfilled by his death and resurrection, especially in the one that says “Love one another as I have loved you.”
That was the power He left on Earth when He ascended into heaven on the 40th day — the knowledge that against love, there is no law.
And when He ascended into heaven, He said he would always be with them through His Holy Spirit, whom He would leave behind. The Holy Spirit is often referred to as the Comforter, but He truly is the Spirit of Jesus on Earth. Instead of being confined by His earthy body in just the few places on Earth He could walk, the Holy Spirit is able to be in all places at the same time. He can be ministering, and speaking, to millions of people simultaneously but in the most personal way.
He knows our needs before we do and is always accessible if we allow Him access. He says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” He doesn’t insert Himself into our lives and demand we accept Him as our Lord and Savior — He just loves unconditionally and without hesitation.
Many know and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior but have an issue with the Holy Spirit. They pray in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but don’t really embrace the third in that trinity. The best description I can come up with, for people who struggle with the concept of the Holy Trinity, is that a man can be a father, and he was obviously a son — and at some point he might join in marriage by becoming a husband. That, I think, is the true mystery of Christ, who is waiting for His bride, spotless and without blemish. He goes to prepare a place for her while He is still searching for her on earth.
I can’t blame or condemn those who mischaracterize Jesus or the Holy Spirit because they don’t have an intimate relationship with Him. They might know Jesus is the Son of God … even Satan knows that. But do they know Him, personally, intimately? And have they made Him the Lord of their lives, to save them from sin and redeem them before God in Heaven?
It’s like saying you know who the president is — everyone knows that — but do you have access to him? Do you have his cellphone and if you called, would he answer and talk to you?
We should not stand in judgment of Joy Behar or Omarosa Manigault Newman for not knowing that Jesus indeed does talk to His beloved. We must love them as Christ loves the church and gave Himself for all of us. We can’t be surprised at persecution considering that Jesus, the Son of God, was crucified by man. But we also shouldn’t be surprised that there is no greater love than a man’s laying his life down for another … as Jesus did for all of us.
And if we tune our hearts to Him, we will be able to hear Him clearly and rejoice in that intimacy that is Jesus and His Holy Spirit.
Nina May is a writer, producer, director, and currently the showrunner on “Daily Bread,” a faith-based, post-apocalyptic drama.
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