I grew up in christian churches. I have always believed in God. I have always believed that Jesus died for my sins. I have been baptized and I have participated in Holy Communion at least once per month since I was young. In 2018, a good friend of mine helped me see that my belief in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit was built on my limited understanding of Sunday morning sermons over nearly a half century. As pastor of a small church in the Houston area, my friend politely challenged me to get acquainted with Jesus Christ personally. He suggested reading God’s word – all of it – for myself. I accepted his challenge and committed to spending the first 30 minutes of each day reading God’s word. Over time, 30 minutes of reading turned into 45 minutes to an hour, and in addition to reading, I began regularly praising and thanking Him, acknowledging that I sin, asking for forgiveness, and inviting Jesus into my life.
In early August, 2019, my daily readings had me in the gospel according to Matthew. After the first week or so, I had read about Jesus performing miracles of healing, and as part of my prayer one morning I said, “Lord I believe, but can you give me a sign because I don’t see the same kind of miracles in the world today?” The very next morning, I began reading where I had stopped the day before. Within a very short time, I came upon Matthew 12:38-39 in which Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for requesting a sign. So, naturally I smiled and my prayer that morning included an apology for requesting a sign the previous day. But God knows motives of the heart, and He knew that I was asking from a place of deep sincerity.
About a week later on August 14, a friend from work voluntarily told me about a shop owner in Tucson, AZ who noticed that he was suffering with back pain and offered to pray for healing. My friend said the man held his hands, prayed to God for healing, and his pain went away immediately. When he told me the story, he had been pain free for 10 days after weeks of unexplained back pain. I shared that I had recently asked God for a sign that he is still performing miracles of healing. We were both amazed and grateful.
Less than 10 days later, on August 23rd, I was having lunch with the first friend I mentioned above – the one who started me on my search for a personal relationship with Jesus. I told him how God rebuked me for asking for a sign, but then gave me one anyway. He then said, “God is still answering your prayer”, as he showed me a video clip of a 13 year old boy speaking and dancing on the previous Saturday morning. The amazing about the video is that the night before it was taken, the boys parents wheeled him into his room, changed his diaper and tucked him into bed.
Because of an aggressively growing mass on his brain, this 13 year old had lost the ability to speak, walk and control bodily functions. After my friend’s church family had been earnestly praying for him for weeks, his parents tucked him in bed on a Friday night, and the next morning the kid got out of bed on his own, walked to his parents’ bedroom, woke them up with the sound of his voice, and danced while his mom cried and videotaped it.
These are just two examples of the many ways I now observe God’s attention to me. The more I read and seek, the more He reveals. For many years I believed in God, but I could not easily articulate specific instances where he showed up in a very personal way just for me. Now, I can.
If you have any doubt or skepticism about YOUR relationship with Christ, let me politely challenge you to start by reading God’s word every day. Don’t read it to finish it, like when we read a novel. Read it from the perspective of a listener in a conversation with God. What is He telling you about Him, about yourself, about the truth of things, etc.?
I pray that this testimony advances God’s purpose for your life.
~J. Duplantier, Aug. 2020