Excerpts from my memoir Hope for Misfits, which continues to be prepared for publication, will be periodically posted on this page. We hope that the passages will stimulate comments that will enrich us all.
Today’s excerpts come from Chapter One, “A Do-Right Kid.”
After you’ve read the passage, we invite you to reflect and comment on these questions:
(1) Do you remember a spiritual experience from your formative years, and how did it affect you?
(2) What are your thoughts about the author’s Epiphany?
(3) Do you believe God speaks to us today.
A Do-Right Kid
God Almighty visited me in person one night when I was about six or seven. God Himself came – not an angel or a prophet or a preacher or an evangelist, but the one true God came in person.
“Well, then,” what does God look like?” a reasonable person might ask.
I can’t answer that because I “saw” God spiritually and not in the way we humans think of seeing. I learned later on that God is Spirit, and experiencing him is like knowing the wind is blowing but being unable to see it or know from where it comes. But I know that God chose to come see me that night.
“How do I know that it was really God, and not some trick of my mind?” a logical person might ask. Well, I just know. If you’ve ever really had God in your heart, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, then I pray that someday you will understand.
It was a Wednesday night and my Mom, Dad and I – my two younger brothers were not yet born – had been to Prayer Meeting at our Methodist Church. It was dark and quiet in my bedroom and I was sleeping peacefully when the Divine Spirit awakened me.
Startled, I spring to a sitting position, erect and rigid. And then God announced that it was he who was visiting. The message came from the heart of God to my heart, no spoken words. I shook with fear but at the same time felt cocooned in amazing love. God gave me glimpses of heaven and hell, and taught me that I would have a choice in life. At the end I would be judged, and my soul would go to one or the other forever.
He showed me a moving picture of hell. I saw ghostly beings squirming and running and crying and flailing about in the reddest and hottest-of-hot fires, souls in unimaginable anguish unable to escape, unable to die. It was the most awful image I’ve ever had as condemned beings burned but didn’t burn up, a hopeless, helpless condition.
Heaven was a place of peace and love that transcends anything imaginable on earth, and I could chose to go there by accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Jesus would welcome me with open arms, and loved ones who were saved would be there, and we would be together in glory forever.
God’s message was on a spiritual realm that defies human language. I don’t know how long my time with God lasted that night, but what is time to God? When he left my bedroom, he left his Spirit with me. I could never claim I didn’t know what awaited me based on what choices I made in life.
Shaking from head to toe and wet with beads of sweat, I found myself standing in Mom and Dad’s bedroom by their bedside. I awakened them, sobbing, and told them that God had been to see me. “He showed me what heaven and hell are like,” I said, “and he assured me that he loves me and that he wants me and you and everybody to worship him and go to be with him in heaven when we die. I saw souls burning in hell and learned about the love waiting for the saved in heaven.”
Mom and Dad were shaken and didn’t know what to say.
“I love you both so much,” I said, “and I just need to know that you are saved, and that you will go to heaven. Hell is awful.”
Mom and Dad both promised me that they had accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and were assured of their salvation. Although we were sedate Methodists, Daddy prayed like a Pentecostal with his deep, trembling voice rising and falling, rising and falling.
Not one of us ever forgot the night God came to see me.