Preface: Some said this was too intense for Middle Schoolers. My belief is that it’s honestly intense for everyone at any point in their faith. I do believe it is important for people to realize that God’s stories do not end in The Bible. They continue today through us.
One of the messages I keep coming back to this year is the message of being “Real”. Meaning speaking only truth. Today I am going to tell you a true story. For some of you it will be hard to believe and for others I hope that it will clear some of your doubts. The story that I am about to tell you is completely true and I am promising right now that I will not lie to you.
Some of you may find the stories of the Bible hard to believe. You may find it hard to believe that God spoke to this guy Moses and gave him messages. You may find it hard to believe that God actually loves you. You may find it hard to believe that God even exists. You may find yourself having all these doubts and all these questions left unanswered. Wondering if there really is a God why won’t he prove that he exists?
The story I am about to tell begins with my mother asking these questions. Before I was born my mother had several miscarriages. Meaning she would get pregnant but something would happen and the child would die in the womb. This happened time and time again. She was convinced that she couldn’t have any kids and because of this became very angry with God. And in a prayer she said “God if you exist you better come down here and show me.”
Around this time one of my mom’s employees was leaving on a trip to a place called Medjugorje. She asked off for work to go visit this place where “miracles” happen. This place was famous for people seeing The Virgin Mary, Jesus’ mother. The coworker left for the trip and upon returning she pulled my mother aside and told her that she had something very important to tell her.
She pulled my mother aside and told her that while in Medjugorje she was walking at night with two friends back to their hotel when one of the friends had this sudden feeling that she was supposed to be somewhere. She had this feeling that she was supposed to be in a specific room of a church. So they ran to the church. When the got there the nuns were just closing up and said that no one else could enter the church. They suggested that the group go to the side of the church and try looking through the window. They ran to the side of the church and found the window that looked into the room. A cloud came into the room and before them appeared the Virgin Mary.
She looked at my moms friend and told her “ I have seven names for you. I want you to go home and bring them all here.” My mom’s friend looked my mother in the face not knowing about my Mom’s prayer for God to prove himself and said “Judy, she called your name.”
My mother knew in that moment that she had to go to this place. The one thing that stood in her way was convincing my dad to go. My dad when it comes to things like this looked at it as many of you might…as complete crap. HE thought the whole thing was hokey and wasn’t excited about spending all the money to go to some in your face Jesus town. But my mom full of faith convinced him to go. My dad was very bitter about it but he did go.
While there they witnessed many things that if I were to talk about all of it would take hours upon hours. So I will tell you the key event. On one of the last days my parents went to hear a priest talk about the history of this town and the events that have taken place. At the end of his sermon he said that he wished to pray for each of the people in the church. The guide that my parents were with stated that this was a very, very rare thing to have happen. Stating he doesn’t usually do this. My parents watched as the first groups went down to be prayed for. The priest would walk in front of them placing his hand before them (not touching them) and many would fall to the ground. My dad much like I would have thought said that that was complete crap and there was no way he was going down there. My mom having a little more faith begged and begged for my dad to go down there and eventually convinced him. They walked down. The priest came down the row praying for people. He came to my dad and said a prayer then went to my mother. He then stopped and looked back at my dad. The priest then came back and placed his hand on him. My dad fell to the ground. My dad lay on the ground and looked up and before him appeared Jesus Christ. He stood before my dad and told him many things but there was on specific thing that he told him that would have an impact on my family’s life. He told him that everyone who came on the trip with them would go home with a gift. And he told my dad what my mom’s gift would be. He told my dad that her gift would be a son.
I was born around a year later.
I was raised with this story. I heard it time and time again but it wasn’t my story it was my parents. As far as I was concerned nothing miraculous every happened to me. And believe it or not there would come a time when I would doubt if God exists and I would ask a very similar question that my mother had.
My freshman year of high school I made tons and tons of new friends. There was nothing in life that I valued more than the strong friendships that I had. Half way through my freshman year my parents would tell me some of the worst news that I had ever been given. They told me that we were going to move from Tallahassee to South Florida. I was beyond angry. All the friendships I had ever made seemed wasted. Right when everything seemed perfect my happiness was stripped from me. I became angry at God praying if you love me you wouldn’t do this to me. I began to doubt if he even existed. I like my mother needed proof.
That summer before I moved was Young Life camp. Young Life is the high school version of Wyldlife. It would be the last thing I did with my close friends before I moved to Sarasota. In fact I moved almost immediately after returning from camp. That week they gave many talks like we give you each week. The last night of camp the speaker told us of how much God loved us. I remember rolling my eyes and saying “yeah right. If God truly loved me I wouldn’t have to leave all of my friends.” That night we were asked to go outside and sit and just talk to God. I sat on the side of this mountain and prayed “God if you really love me you better show me.”
I cried out to God and he answered my call.
A force came over me that pinned me to the ground. My body felt empty. I had this feeling of chills but not having any chills. It was as if a spirit was moving in me. And as I sat there shaking in fear, I heard a voice.
“I love you.”
Three times I heard this.
“I love you. I love you. I love you.”
I sat there in fear. I was shaking and crying.
Through my tears I looked up at the sky, up at the stars. There was a perfect constellation of a heart.
My dad and I both were afraid when we had our encounters. Not because we felt threatened or harmed or in any danger but because we saw God’s power, we felt his presence and it was Incredible. I had never experienced such peace and such greatness.
I believe in God because I KNOW that he exists.
You may ask well how can you be afraid of God? Well in the bible there is an incredible story. After teaching many people Jesus and his close friends the disciples went out to sea. As night came they were out on a boat and a furious storm came upon the waters. The boat was thrashing and the situation was so bad that the disciples thought that they were going to die. They ran down to the stern of the boat where Jesus IN THE MIDST OF THIS CRAZY LIFE THREATENING STORM was sleeping. They woke him up and said “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown!?”
Jesus woke up looked out at the wind and the waves and said “Quiet, be still!” Then the wind died down and the waters were completely calm. He said to the disciples “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
The disciples looked at Jesus terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Jesus’ power was so great that even his closest friends looked at him and said “HOLY CRAP!”. They were reminded of just how great our God is.
There are a few similarities in the three stories that I’ve told. In each of the stories we were all afraid. My mother was afraid she couldn’t have a child. I was afraid of leaving all of my friends behind. And the disciples were afraid that they would drown. In the three stories we all were losing faith. And In the three stories we all asked Jesus if he cared about us. And in the three stories he showed us above and beyond that the answer is yes. YES. In the hardest times of our lives, in our worst and scariest moments, God comes down and says I. LOVE. YOU. And I care about you, and I will help you through this. Our God is so incredibly powerful and when bad things happen God comes down and he calms the storm and he tells you that he loves you.
I believe in God because I know he exists. And I know that him telling me that He loves me was not just something that I needed to hear. But something that we ALL need to hear and remember and live for. God loves you. And he cares about you very, very much.
If you would like to learn more about my parents story, they have just finished writing a book that is due for release some time in December. For more information on that feel free to check out their website: