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The little amphitheater where I met Jesus. My kids (pictured) call it “The holy place.”

My freshman year of college I became deeply troubled by questions: “Why do I exist?” “What is true?”  One night, I stayed up late talking philosophy with a friend.  My distress was reaching critical mass.  I spent the rest of the night and the whole next day awake, wrestling with my lack of answers.  I didn’t eat.  Around dinnertime, I decided I had to eat even though I wasn’t hungry.  But about half way to the dining hall I knew I wasn’t going to eat.  Overwhelmed, I sat down on the steps of a small amphitheater and started to cry.

Moments later, a little girl approached, walking a bike.  She couldn’t have been older than 5 or 6.  A thought went through my head: God could speak to me through her.  “That’s pretty unlikely,” I argued back.  But I stayed open.  She said, “I’ll talk to you if you want me to.”  I shrugged and said, “Sure.”  “I’ve seen you here before,” she continued.  “About eight days a week.”  That was curious since I’d never seen her before.  I kept listening.

In my search for truth, I found myself attracted to Buddhism. I was raised Catholic and dismissed it as a family superstition.  But as the little girl talked, everything pointed to Christianity being true.

Yin-Yang

Yin-Yang

For instance, she said she learned about the compass in school.  She pointed north, south, east, and west.  She explained she had been hiding behind a bush before approaching me.  The bush concealed her except on one side.  Pointing east, she said, “People think they can see me from over there, but they can’t.  They can only see me from over there,” and she pointed west.  This piqued my interest because I thought of Buddhism as an eastern religion and Christianity as a western religion.

Another comment concerned a bungee cord wrapped around the handlebars of the girl’s bike.  The cord was wrapped such that the hooks crossed and clasped underneath the handlebars and couldn’t be seen.  Making a revolving motion with her fingers, she explained, “On the outside, it looks like this.  But underneath, it’s actually this,” and she arranged her fingers in a cross.  The message of the bungee cord was this: The cycling of opposites represented by the yin-yang (a symbol in Buddhism) was only an appearance.  Reality was the cross of Christ.

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We talked (or rather she talked) awhile longer.  By the end, I had received a message.  I admitted I had never thought about the gospel.  I had argued against it, ridiculed it, and avoided it, but I had never just thought about it.  So I did, in my own terms: OK, God is infinite and He became finite…gave up infinity, all He is and has…and died….  That was all it took.  Less than 30 seconds. I was so floored I spoke aloud: “God, if that’s who you are, I believe in that.  I don’t know about church or Christianity or anything else, but I believe in You.”

John says, “What you have heard from the beginning must remain in you. If what you have heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father” (1 John 2:24).  I often return to what I learned the night I met Jesus: God loves us more than Himself.  That is all we need to know.  We may grow into that but we never grow out of it.  As the body of Christ, the fullness of our calling is to “grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ” (Eph. 4:15).

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