Have you ever had moments in your life where you feel your soul trying to tell you something? Forks in the road where you can either listen or dismiss. Sometimes it’s a subtle intrigue, or it’s a thought that keeps rolling around in your mind in different ways – where you know there is something more you need to do and learn. Sometimes it hits you harder than you can imagine. It took a LOT for me to finally listen. Perhaps this is what was meant when Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” (John 9:3-41)
In early October, about a year and a half ago, a friend and I were coordinating a high-profile event for my industry. He received a call that morning and learned that a young co-worker of ours who was riding on a small single engine flight to a project meeting was seriously injured when the plane that they were in crashed. Our friend was on life support for a couple of days, but to no avail. Five out of six people on the flight died, including our co-worker.
I knew him well because he was on the project team for a construction project that we had recently completed. He was 27 years old, and left behind a wife who was three months pregnant. It really hit home for me as I was only a handful of years older than him, with a family of my own, and it could have been anyone on a flight like this going to a project meeting. I was not friends with him outside of work, but I liked him a lot because of the time I got to know him. I had great respect for him.
His hometown was two hours away, and I drove by myself to his viewing. It was a somber drive to say the least. The viewing was at a large church, and the line was out the door. It was incredible. And by the strength of God, his parents and his young wife were keeping it together – and thanking people for coming. It was obvious that they knew he was with God. In fact, when I read the news later that week, the quote from his wife was this: “He was an encourager. He was a supporter. He was a man of God. He loved Jesus with all of his heart and he was just a great, great man.”
I cannot explain why, but the death of my colleague hit me hard. I had experienced tragedy before, and with close family no less – but maybe I wasn’t ready to listen at that time. During the summer prior to this, I recall a particular moment when my family and I took a trip to the library. My wife and son were in the children’s section trying to find some books, and I decided to peruse the library alone. Maybe I would find another book about money management?
As I walked down a particular aisle I was stopped in my tracks. It was just a feeling I had, telling me to stop and look around. As I looked over my left shoulder, at the end of the shelf was a book titled, “23 Minutes in Hell.” Whoa! If you have not read it, it’s worth a read. I could not put the book down. I won’t give the book away but suffice to say that it hit a major nerve. In my spiritual laziness and worldly influence, I had questioned how God could sentence his creations to Hell for an eternity. Surely there was such a place, but forever? Do we really deserve that?
In the weeks following the plane crash, I went back to the library looking for more intriguing books. The next one I picked up was, “A Message of Hope from the Angels,” and then I read, “One Minute After You Die.” That last book was heavy in its citing of scripture and made some compelling points that I believe helped put God and Christ in perspective for a nerd like me, who needs a heavy dose of reason to get through my thick skull.
From there, I became addicted to movies related to scripture. There are countless movies on the later years of Christ’s life on earth and I love them all. But another movie I found interesting was called, “The Case for Christ.” The best source of all, the Bible, is my current reading material and I’ve made significant progress reading it front to back (via audiobook because I’m a slow reader). This verse sums it up pretty well: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2).
I had another tragedy in my life occur about a month after the plane crash, where a good friend of mine took his own life. That is a subject for another writing, which I intend to explore in greater depth; however, I bring it up here because I was able to allow the strength of God to heal my heart, almost as if my recent awakening was intended to help me through it. As always, one thing leads to another, and my spiritual journey continues. I am opening myself up to prayer more and more each day. It’s not uncommon for me to begin my day now with a brief silent prayer thanking God for my many blessings and asking Him to bring me closer to Him.
Thankfully, my prayers are being answered in a variety of unexpected ways. I continue to read the Bible. I’ve made new amazing friends. I’ve been blessed enough to help others in ways I could not have previously imagined. I am excited to go to, or log into church (although I still have plenty of room for improvement in this area). I take joy in seeing others succeed. The list could go on and on. The transition toward spiritual growth and maturity has been slow and steady – just like many of the best things in life. No quick fix, as they say – and believe me, there is plenty to fix! More practice listening to the soul and the Spirit certainly will not hurt. I don’t know what it feels like to have your spirit re-born, and maybe I never will, but I feel the Holy Spirit doing wonders in my life.