As much as apologetics are useful and brilliant, I have not met many believers who were miraculously born again via a reasoned argument for the legitimacy of Christian theology. I have, however, met many believers who describe a moment when they encountered the living God. In fact, Jesus did not command the disciples to argue the kingdom of God but rather “proclaim this message: The kingdom of heaven has come near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” (Matthew 10:7,8)
I was in an aisle seat, minding my own business. If I’m honest, I wanted to self-absorb and disconnect even though usually I enjoy meeting random people on planes. You never know what might become of those connections. But this time I chose to stay put rather than initiate anything.
If you know the Lord, it’s impossible to hide from His presence and His leading so I actually was not surprised when the woman across the aisle began asking me about my life. She asked about my majors and goals in life and I explained that I followed Jesus: He is my goal and I will go wherever and do whatever He says. At one point she asked me with one eyebrow raised:
“So you’re telling me that you actually believe this Holy Spirit thing is inside you and talks to you?”
I was thankful in that moment for the truth of 2 Timothy 1:7: “the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid but rather gives us power, love and self-discipline.” I replied that yes, He does! I said that I could explain Jesus to her all I wanted, with the best theological arguments and archeological studies backed up by the best science around… or I could pray for her and He could meet her right in that moment. Surprised, she agreed.
So I prayed and thanked Jesus for the peace of His presence. And as I prayed, the Holy Spirit brought Isaiah 58:12 to my mind: “Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.” He spoke to me that this was a prophetic word over her and her family.
After I prayed, she said she felt so much peace! “What a wonderful human interaction!” she said. I assured her that it was the peace of God she experienced. I then shared the word with her and said that God had called her and her family to be people who restore brokenness and bring healing to peoples’ lives. It turns out, she was on her way to Denver to care for both of her parents who had broken bones and was intent on mending their broken relationship! “You are so intuitive!” she exclaimed. Again, I assured her that I was a human but Jesus was speaking to her through me and she could know Him just the same.
Though the woman did not repent in that moment and turn to Jesus, she had a moment in which “the kingdom of heaven [came] near” and she experienced the peace and all-knowing person of Jesus.