This is a testimony of my first encounter with Jesus.
My husband and I met when we were 16, and this topic was always a very touchy topic during the first few years of our relationship (the first 14 years to be exact).
He was a Christian and I wasn’t. And if you’ve ever been in a relationship where your faith doesn’t align with your partner’s….you’ll know what I mean when I say it can become quite a battlefield.
While my husband had the best intentions in trying to convince me to believe in Jesus, I saw it as him trying to “convert me” and push his beliefs onto me. The more he tried to convince me, the more I pushed away, and it got to the point where we couldn’t even discuss Christianity.
It got pretty heated and we just had to agree to disagree.
A LIFE-CHANGING ENCOUNTER
So by 2011, my husband and I had been married for about 4 years (together for 14 years). I did grow up believing that there is a God and I’ve always felt God was out there, watching over me and protecting me. I even prayed directly to God and spoke to Him. Not that there was ever a direct response that I was aware of, but I felt a watchful presence over me – distant, but present.
However, I also didn’t have any direction in my life so I just believed in whatever else I wanted to believe in at the time which included ghosts, aliens, tarot readings, feng shui, yin and yang, superstition, horoscopes etc (you get my drift). It was anything that took my fancy really….anything except Jesus.
My thinking was this: I’m sure Jesus was a real person but He was just a guy, who did do a couple of great things, and over time, He became the face that represented God…nothing more.
My biggest arguing point with my husband was that Jesus was a product of marketing because God is not tangible so people created the story of Jesus so that Christianity is now tangible and can be sold.
The more he brought up the topic of Jesus, the more heated we got and I would say “I’ll believe it when I see it.” I even said to him “I’ll bet you any money, that when we all pass away, you’ll see that we have been praying to the same God. Your God and my God are the same!”
It got to the point where we couldn’t even discuss our beliefs and it was easier to just avoid the topic altogether.
It was only when I became less defensive and stubborn, and more open-minded, that we developed a more mature way of discussing this topic with respect for each other’s beliefs.
Our heated debates slowly became discussions rather than trying to impose our views on each other. I started asking questions to get his views and thoughts on the topic and my defensive walls slowly lowered a little bit (maybe this is what it means to pray for hearts to be softened – though at the time I just thought we were growing up).
Then one day, still in 2011, while I was sitting on the couch folding some clothes, I was watching something on TV. I can’t even remember what it was exactly but it was something supernatural and out of this world, like aliens or ghosts or something.
Then, as I was watching it, I said out loud, more to myself, and partly to my husband who was in the kitchen “I believe in that!” and even before I could finish the sentence, a thought dropped right into my head overlapping myself and it said, “Why do you believe in that when you have not seen it, yet you don’t believe in Jesus?” I stopped folding for a moment and remembered thinking “yeah you’re right, why do I believe in that and not Jesus?”
I looked up at my husband, checking to see if he could hear this conversation going on in my head. I didn’t even know who I was talking to. But of course, he was still prepping his dinner (probably some chicken breast and broccoli fad diet that he was on at the time), but I kept thinking “yeah, why don’t I believe in Jesus? Why am I so against Jesus, yet so willing to believe in all those other things that I’ve never seen either? What is it about Jesus that’s making me say no?”
I knew my mind was starting to venture into new grounds here and I was too scared to even contemplate what that meant. I was also apprehensive about telling my husband about this “thought” as I was worried he would jump at the opportunity to preach to me. I just needed some space to think this over.
I started to do some research. I started reading the Bible, searching for some clarity, some direction, for something….anything. I started to read the Old Testament, starting from the beginning. I was reading it like a book, trying to understand it and make sense of what I was reading. Of course, it didn’t make much sense, it was still just a story to me. I googled and read some books on other people’s experiences, but I was still not there.
Then one day, as I was reading the New Testament, I came across the conversation between Thomas and Jesus during the days after Jesus was resurrected to life after his crucifixion.
In case you don’t know this story, Jesus was raised from the dead and many of his disciples had seen Jesus for themselves. And when one of the disciples told Thomas (who was also a disciple but was not present at the time), Thomas didn’t believe them and said “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into his wound in his side” (John 20:25).
Sounds familiar right? That’s pretty much what I said to my husband, “I won’t believe it until I see it” and that’s the same thought that dropped into my head when I was folding the clothes “why do you believe in that when you have not seen it, yet you don’t believe in Jesus?”
So the Bible continues. Eight days later, Jesus appears to the disciples again, but this time, Thomas was with them and Jesus says to Thomas directly “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” (John 20:26) Then finally, Jesus said to Thomas “you believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
Did you hear that? BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO BELIEVE WITHOUT SEEING!!! That was my revelation moment, a light bulb went off and I immediately thought “I am NOT going to be a Thomas! NO WAY!” There is a blessing to be had, given freely to us for believing without seeing. That’s what having faith means. And I wasn’t going to miss out on this blessing due to my stubborn heart.
I had a conversation with Jesus right at that moment, I said “You know what, Jesus? I’m still not 100% certain that you are real, and that you are the Son of God, but I’m going to take a leap of faith and believe in you anyway!”
Fast forward 10+ years to today, I have no doubt that the so-called “thought” I had while folding the clothes on the couch, was the Holy Spirit speaking to me and setting me on a new path in my life. I didn’t recognise the voice of God at the time, but this was the first of many more powerful conversations to come.
A FINAL NOTE
If you’re praying for someone who is not yet a believer – Don’t give up. Don’t stop praying. Don’t let the arguments stop you from petitioning for them. All you can do is pray for them because ultimately, it is up to the Holy Spirit to convict their hearts like He did mine.
And if you are someone who is not yet a believer, can I just say, they do it out of love, nothing more, nothing less.