I was standing on a gravel road in rural Alberta just over one year ago. It was late at night and I was smoking a cigarette, leaning against my car in the cold, wet snow-rain mixture. For about five years I had been struggling off and on with depression and on that particular night I was in a somewhat of a distressed mood. That night, I was feeling alone and unsure of what my purpose in life was. It was on that empty road that I felt a very real and a very specific presence. I felt the presence of Jesus, he was hugging me and it was the comfort I needed right at that moment. To be clear, I do not think he was physically present; I could not see him, but it was seemingly more than an imagined presence and some force outside of myself prompted it. These kinds of experiences were not new to me, although hugging was a slightly different variation. Prior to this night I had held hands with Jesus, typically during praise and worship times during in services, but also during similar times of emotional instability. These occurrences are certainly not everyday events and in fact I have not had such an encounter in quite a while. What these mystical experiences mean to me, though, is that Jesus is a real and living person and that he is alive and able to comfort those who call on him and believe that he will respond.
I would not say that my belief in God’s existence hinge on these experiences, however they have certainly strengthened it. The reason behind that is because I believe that I have experienced the love of God in an incredibly tangible way. Christianity has played a pertinent role throughout my whole life and has shaped how I view the world around me. I have read the Bible and I’ve read commentaries on the Bible and I’ve read Christian authors old and new and the one nugget of truth that stands out far beyond anything is that Christ’s message of love was a revolutionary one and the world needs to know and experience it. The fact that I have encountered this love in a relatively unique way helps me to be sure of its reality. Jesus and his apostles preached a message of love and equality. That is what I believe and my hope and prayer is that this altruistic love that Jesus demonstrated and bestows is flowing in and through me to the people I encounter everyday.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.