Earth to Mike This is Ralph - Over
by Michael Stein
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Ralph Wells was a coworker who told me about Jesus. He asked me, in front of angry coworkers, if I believed in the Resurrection of Jesus, and when I told him yes, the Holy Spirit fell on me and buckled my legs. I couldn't hear or speak. I was shaking under Gods power and didn't know what to do.
Later, when I asked Ralph about what happened to me, I rejected his offer to attend his church. There are just to many lifeless traditions of men. So I promised Ralph that I was going to fast and pray for 40 days, and to my surprise Ralph not only agreed, he was overjoyed with the idea.
Before the 40 days ended, prophecies were given to me by total strangers concerning the day that I would receive Jesus and His power to save me. On the 40th day of the fast, I accepted Jesus with a torrent of tears. That night while driving home I fell asleep at the wheel. The Lord sent an angel who struck me in the head with His Living Word. It exploded in me just like a bolt of lightening and said "Seek the Holy Spirit, Hunger and Thirst after the Holy Spirit". I woke up driving down the middle of the Interstate.
When I returned home and lay down in my bed, the power exploded into my entire body again. It woke me up of course, but the presence of the Lord remained. Later, on that 4th of July weekend, I attended a church in Washington D.C. An elderly couple walked up to me and asked if I was looking for the Holy Spirit. When they prayed for me I spoke in tongues. I didn't know that this was controversial. Then the power of God remained with me. I was placed in a protective spiritual bubble. When I returned to work, I entered into a marvelous fellowship with Ralph, who took endless abuse from coworkers so that he could witness and share Jesus with me. Ralph was shy. He never complained about what people were saying about him. He endured their abuse quietly.
Well, after the spiritual fireworks of the Fourth of July weekend, I returned to work just like everyone else. I noticed right away that Ralph had also returned and I decided to wait until he came to visit me at my work station. There we could talk more privately. It wasnít long before he emerged from his office and asked me how things were going. I could see, by the expression on his face, that he could perceive that something was dramatically different about me. Just seeing him brought me great joy.
Ralph was all ears, but when I told him the details concerning my experiences, I thought that he would reject them, or at least think that they were strange. I had nothing in my vocabulary to compare or explain them with other than the Scripture that I had been reading. From that day on, for every story that I shared with Ralph as they unfolded, he told me stories of equal significance that had happened to himself or someone else that he knew. I was utterly shocked and amazed. I could not believe how patient Ralph had been with me, concerning my position that had so completely rejected everything that he would have said. So Ralph in his wisdom trusted God for me. He prayed for me in secret.
Now it wasnít long before people began to notice that Ralph was talking to me about Christianity, and they came to my aid in droves. At first they thought that Ralph had brainwashed me. So when I explained that I did not allow Ralph to influence me in any way, they couldnít understand how this was even possible. I then thought that maybe if I told them about my experiences, my coworkers just might understand that God did these things all by Himself. This idea provoked anger in some and alienated others.
The engineers that worked for Ralph attacked his reputation and claimed that he was a real sinner Ďin the old daysí. When I reasoned with them concerning how much Ralph must love the Lord that forgave all of these sins of old, they became angry with Ralph and with me. Ralph reacted to this by asking me to forgo meeting with him at work during work hours, and he reminded me how the Lord was able to work with people. After all, Ralph said, No man can come to Me (Jesus) except the Father which hath sent me draw him. . . (John 6:44).
As a result of not being seen with Ralph my co-workers began to ask questions concerning what had happened. Of course, they had already presumed that Ralph must have been behind what had happened. Further, they were concerned about my mental state even though in reality, it was better than it had ever been before I had experienced Godís grace. My interests and motivations were transformed into a plan that unfolds before me as God provides His grace and His mercy to my life. When you ask a friend to explain what is wrong with this experience, most often they wonít believe it, because it didnít happen to them. Now this was something that I could understand. My own religious upbringing couldnít make me experience grace, so why should religion alone work for anyone else.
So, at first, I lost most of my friends at work. I told them the stories of what God did. and how He went about doing it, and I marveled at the things that upset people the most.
Bob W. from Maryland
For example, one young civilian co-worker named Bob W was very proud of his Protestant upbringing. I believe he was raised as a Presbyterian. Well, Bob was quick to correct me concerning the Scripture, because he new that Catholics were not properly trained in our understanding of the bible. Bob was puzzled because he noticed that from time-to-time, he would see me reading a bible, which of course, he believed to be a Catholic bible, which it was not, although it did contain an Catholic Imprimatur.
In Bobís mind my problem was one of misinterpretation, and he decided to help me. One of the things that he had heard me talk about was Jesus and His Resurrection from the dead. Specifically, he heard me say that the physical body of Jesus was Resurrected, and NOT just His Spirit. In Bobís mind this was clearly erroneous. After all God is Spirit and Spirit only. People like it when they have God in a bottle as if He was a type of cosmic genie.
Furthermore, Bob had a girlfriend named Pat, who had the ugliest disposition that I have ever witnessed in a young women. She was very demanding and self- centered. So when I told Bob what the Scripture said, he became very angry, but Pat became both loud and furious. She was so angry that I decided to say nothing, which suited both of them. I had alienated both of them, and as expected, I blamed myself and asked the Lord to forgive me, and everyday I hopped that Bob would come back without Pat. In fact, in my heart I prayed that Bob would be set free from this monopolistic, angry woman.
At least 2 weeks went by before Bob came back, but he brought Pat along as well. I gulped when Bob asked me to show him where the bible claims that the body of Jesus rose from the dead. I read to both Bob and Pat the Gospel accounts concerning Thomas who himself would not believe that Jesus was physically Resurrected until Jesus offered to let Thomas put his hand into the wound from the Centurions lance that had penetrated His heart. When I read this to Bob, he grabbed his bible out of my hands and read this for himself. When Bob lifted his head his countenance was changed.
Quietly, Bob asked me if there were any other references to the resurrection of the dead, and I said How about the resurrection of others other than Jesus, I said, and I could see the words Oh no in his very facial expression. When I read to him of the account in the Gospel of the tombs of many being opened after Jesus had been resurrected, he became very upset with himself. Tears filled his eyes despite my efforts to console him. Telling him that Jesus loves and forgives wasnít necessary. Pat never said a word. As I handed the bible back to Bob he looked at it with wonder concerning what was happening to him. His eyes were opened and his heart was renewed.
Now the greatest miracle in all that had happened, occurred with Pat, who was never the same again. Pat became a beautiful young women, who supported and loved Bob. Her face came alive with interest and concern for the well being of others, which to my shame is a quality that I still lack. I have never seen so great a change in a relationship. Bob and Pat both treated me with true reverence and kindness for as long as I knew them. I did not deserve their admiration, because of what I had harbored in my heart concerning Pat.
Later, when Bob and Pat were married, people would always remark just how wonderful their relationship was. I never saw Pat act in any way that wasnít nice. My prayer for them was answered in a way that I would never have expected., and there was more of this to come. The quality of their friendship with me was worth more than the rejection and alienation that had preceded it, even Patís.
Establishing a spiritual relationship with such a staunch Protestant as Bob proved to be a joyous experience. I had been changed and Bob new it, but he could not understand how salvation and these experiences could have happened to a Catholic. In the end he just accepted that it must be true, and donít think for one moment that he hadnít noticed the change in Pat and their relationship. Bob decided that it would be best not to look a gift horse in the mouth.
Bob L. from Kentucky
Suddenly one day I found myself being summoned into my civilian bosses office. Apparently, it was time for my annual performance review and Bob L (my boss) decided that he had had just about enough of this Christian mumbo jumbo. Bob L didnít like Ralph and he didnít appreciate how he was affecting his employees. Now it was obvious to everyone that Ralph and I did not abuse our relationship at work. I worked very hard at my job, which I had grown to love immensely. This was not enough for Bob L, who resented the obvious fact that Bob W and Pat were also different than their old selves. He said, I want my old Mike Stein back. Further, Bob L stated that he was currently writing my review and that I better conform to his program. I angrily refused.
Within a few days Bob L produced an advance copy of my review. He admitted to me that both my work and my attendance was excellent, however he would file the written review that I was now reading which clearly reflected the behavior of a very disruptive and unproductive employee. He asked me to finish reading it through while I was in his office and make up my mind then and there. . . When I finished reading this review, I could feel my growing anger being drowned by presence of the Lord. My body seemed as light as feather, and tears came to my eyes. Bob stood up to comfort me, and I abruptly handed him the review back.
Without thinking I said, You are my boss and if this is the truth concerning how you perceive my work then do your job and file the paperwork. However, if this is a lie, I ask God right here and now to show you His greatest mercy. When I walked away Bob stood there speechless. His mouth was opened and prepared to say something that never came out. So let your nay be nay, and in this case I can assure you it was.
For the next few days, I avoided speaking with Bob L, but every time that I would see him, I was reminded to repeat my words as if they were a prayer. The Spirit of God was moving and wrenching my heart. When I looked at Bob, I would see a bad little boy, whose rebellion would only hurt himself. I ask God right here and right now to show you his greatest mercy, I would ask. I could no longer even think about the review. I had invoked the Spirit of God to perform mercy and at some point it was done before it even happened. Nothing could stop it now, but I knew with assurance that if I devoted my heart to mercy, only the beauty of it would come. This is a blessed experience.
In the fifth chapter of Matthew, Jesus quoted the beatitudes to His disciples. The fifth beatitude says, Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. My position with Bob had an unusual affect on me. As I was reminded to ask for mercy, I was also being blessed with the power of mercy. I could not even justify my own righteous indignation. I was being blessed with mercy at every turn. I wanted to get angry at Bob L and provoke him, but I couldnít. The Spirit of God would bless me relentlessly. The blessing of the beatitudes are not saved up for us after we die. We need our Fathers blessings now to save us, when we are in difficult circumstances. Every day that we are in our flesh we depend on and try Godís mercy, and every day we all need His mercy.
When I woke up early on Friday morning of that same week, it was raining extremely hard as I walked to work. When I arrived a number of people described difficult driving conditions. Others reported flooded basements and the like, while others were late, and a few including Bob L did not show up.
Later that morning everyone except Bob had been accounted for, and the office began to buzz with concern for him. Bob had not made it into work, and he hadnít called the office or his home.
All at once I was compelled to go to the front office door. When I reached out my hand to open the door, it opened quickly by itself, and into my arms ran Bob L. He was wrapped in an army blanket, and he was very upset. I asked him if he was OK, and he said, Praise the Lord, which I thought he meant mockingly.
Bob L then pulled away and headed directly for his office. By the end of the work day, Bob had me summoned to his office. He looked pale and frightened. He was physically shaking.
I tried to act Ďprofessionalí but in my heart I knew that mercy had done its job. Everyone in the office was concerned about Bob because he refused to come out of his office or talk with anyone. And here I was wondering why Bob L would want to talk to me. Bob then handed me my completed review and a pen and asked me, with urgency, if I would read it. I complied. It was an excellent review, and when I looked up Bob had tears in his eyes. I tried not to embarrass Bob L, so I thanked him for his change of heart, and I asked him if he wanted me to sign the review.
Bob then said no, if you donít agree with anything in your review please change it yourself. Now I was certain that God did something in Bob that morning. The fear of the Lord was tangible, and my heart went out to him once again. I signed the review and told Bob L that I had nothing to change. I then sat down and handed Bob the review, and without any explanation I told Bob that he was forgiven. A weight lifted from him right away.
Provoked by the urgency of the moment Bob L began to recount his story of that frightening Friday morning without interruption. This was Bobís story:
When he departed for work earlier that morning, the flooding had closed Bobís normal route into work. Bob L was detoured onto route US 1, which was emergency route. He had not traveled far, when he steered his 60ís vintage full size Buick down into a low lying area.
Just moments before Bob took the detour, government officials decided to open flood gates that had exceeded their maximum stress level. This attempt to deviate a large volume of water away from populated areas had one serious consequence. When the water was released, it was headed directly for Bob.
The water reached US 1 and slammed into Bobís Buick. Before he could react Bobís motor stalled. The motorists who were behind Bob made it to safety. Likewise the motorists in front of Bob also made it to higher ground. Within a minute Bob was forced to retreat to the roof of his car.
Bob cried out for help to the people who had made it to safety. They ran to get assistance, however, every rescue attempt failed to reach him.
Then a fire engine arrived with a hook and ladder. They extended the boom to reach Bob, who remained just out of their reach. The Buick began to slide sideways, as the rising water began to hurl large pieces of debris which threatened to overturn the heavy car. The fire engine was forced to abandon its rescue effort.
It seemed to Bob that he had been stranded on car roof for an eternity. When he reached the point of deep despair, he cried out to God for help. But his words only reminded him of what he was in the process of doing to me. Bob remembered that I had asked that God would show him His greatest mercy, and he claimed it with all of his heart. Suddenly Bob could hear the sound of the diesel engine. It was a huge army vehicle, piloted by a very young army enlisted man who bravely came to Bobís aid just in time.
As Bob told this part of the story, he began to shake. When his weight was lifted from the top of the Buick, it just rolled right over the guard rail. Bobís own body weight was the only thing holding the big car in place. Or was it? The car continued to roll over in the strong current until it was caught by a group of large trees. Then right in front of Bob, the water crushed his car like a tin can.
In time, the army vehicle returned to Fort Meade. Bob was taken to the army hospital to be checked out, but he wouldnít cooperate. Bob may have been rescued, but he was still under the judgment of God. This was why he showed up at work dripping wet, and still wearing the army blanket.
When Bob asked me why I was at the front door of the office when he opened it, I told Bob the truth. The Lord prompted me to go, I answered. This meant allot to Bob, but he couldnít speak about it. He ended his story by telling me that he was truly sorry for what he had done, and he thanked me for asking God for the mercy he had received.
I explained to Bob that when God forgives we must get on with living, and that Godís love and mercy affects all of us in very much the same way. Bob, however, was never the same again. He had pictures taken of the Buick suspended on itís side up in the trees. The car was totaled, yet Bob was overjoyed to be alive. When he told his story to everyone, he always underscored Godís mercy, and showed them the picture of his old Buick.
Bill S. and the Earthquake
People at work now began to shift the focus of their unbelief from Ralph to me. I became a hypocrite, a religious fanatic, un-American, and a goody- two-shoes all at the same time. My co-workers thought that I had violated true religious principles because I had been mean to my boss, and poor Bob L was just confused and afraid to face reality. After all some reasoned, I almost drowned the poor man!
For example, the next episode involved a young man named Bill S. Bill and I worked together and also enjoyed playing chess when we were on-call. Bill seemed to be completely unaffected by what was happening to me and both Bobís. At first his position was that pure circumstance and a faulty perception of reality accounted for everything that happened to all of us. A more disciplined and superior intellect was what we all needed.
Look, said Bill, you canít even beat me at one game of chess. Why should I think that such power even exists, and if it did exist who would foolishly give it to you? This was not even a real question. Bill did not want a response, he wanted me to make the next move on the chessboard.
Now Bill was right. I had never beaten him at chess, and at first his unkind remark didnít bother me. All of my efforts at playing chess were half-hearted and poorly conceived. Then the Lord began to show me how poor of a witness my attitude was concerning my chess game, and when I began to apply myself and expect Godís grace to help me, I noticed that Bill grew quiet.
It was very strange. Bill was no longer belligerent nor was he disrespectful. The more attentive, that I became to the game, the more I could sense the presence of Godís Spirit. Each chess game became a quiet spiritual war. Each game lasted for a longer and longer duration. I loved chess now, and I played a relentless offensive strategy each time that Bill and I would play, yet each time I lost.
Bill could sense the difference, yet he refused to say anything concerning spiritual things. Now Bill owned the chess board, and a few other workers enjoyed a game once in a while, however Bill refused to play any one else. Both he and I could sense that something was building and Bill just had to find out what it was. So, I waited.
Out of the blue one day, Bill explains to me that he had heard that end time Christian prophets had said that earthquakes would occur in places where they normally donít, and that an earthquake could occur in the Northeastern part of the United States. Bill clearly discounted all of this as nonsense, and he gave me that look that suggested that this position was now his. This was how Bill decided to challenge my faith, and he was serious.
As we continued to play our chess game, I discussed my position concerning end time prophecy, which was a simple conviction that it is all true. Some of it is symbolic, yet all of it is true, and that I just accept it based on faith, although as time passes I was understanding more as I grew spiritually. This position seemed like the perfect inferior move that inferior people typically make. Bill smirked with resentment, until I said a bad word. Check! I said, for the first time since we started playing chess.
We played seriously and intensely for 3 days. I took up a purely defensive position, and refused to sacrifice any of the board. Bill responded by taking up the same strategy. He played smartly, but I was playing with a one time gift of inspiration. Little-by-little Billís pride was eroding, and I was finally playing this game with all of my heart and soul. Bill had been beaten, and he was in shock, when I issued the challenge of ĎCheckmateí!
Bill could not understand how such an inferior player could match up with him for 3 days and win. I tried to explain to Bill that this game was different because God was making His moves too, and that he(Bill) knew in his heart what I was talking about. Of course Bill denied that he knew anything of the kind. Bill no longer offered me a game.
A few uneventful workdays passed and Bill had been avoiding me. Then one morning he walked up to me briskly and with a very stern look on his face. In his hand he had a copy of the a Baltimore area newspaper. Bill asked me if he could speak to me in private, and I knew, once again, that God did something.
How do you explain this ______?, Bill asked angrily as he held out the newspaper that had been opened and refolded to a page located in the back of the main section. Explain what? I asked. I still could not find anything. Then Bill showed me a small, one-paragraph article concerning the occurrence of an earthquake whose affects could be felt as far south as Baltimore. Billís family, who lived in Baltimore, could feel the tremor, although no one mentioned anything to Bill, when he came home.
So I asked Bill, What does this have to do with me? Bill then asked me to note the time and date of the earthquake., and I recognized that it occurred the very day of our conversation concerning earthquakes. Bill said Ďnoí it is more then that. The mild earthquake occurred in Baltimore at exactly the same time that I said checkmate. Bill was checkmated twice and both of them occurred simultaneously. Bill went on to say that he doesnít read the newspaper, but his girlfriend gave him this article to read, and according to Bill she didnít know anything concerning out discussion of earthquakes. So Bill suspected that I had something to do with the orchestration of these events, and he wanted me to explain how I did this.
As you know by now, I could not explain to Bill what God does, but I challenged Bill to recognize that God does really love him. Bill suspected that somehow I had met up with his girlfriend to arrange a hoax. And the local newspaper printed the hoax just to go along? I asked. Bill go and look at another copy of the same newspaper and you will find the same story, I argued. Right then I could see acceptance in Billís countenance. I added, You had a doubt and laid out a challenge, and I gave it over to God where it belongs. Do you have any other doubts? I asked. No! Bill responded with a smile, everything feels fine just the way it is.
My relationship with Bill changed dramatically in many ways. He always treated me with kindness and respect, and from time to time we would play a game of chess, and although I was always competitive, I never beat Bill again, and yet I enjoyed it more. When God intervenes directly into our life, it brings us joy because we know for sure that He does love us.
Tony - The Doubter
Shortly after the earthquake event with Bill S had transpired, I was assigned a new civilian general manager whose name was Tony D. Tony was a traditional Catholic, who loved his religion and conversations about philosophy and the meaning of life. It didnít take Tony long to discover that someone who worked for him shared Ďsimilarí interests. The engineers were very pleased that someone with real authority and spiritual know-how was now in a position to put me in my place. I knew this was true, because they had told me this repeatedly.
When I had the opportunity to speak with Tony, I discovered a man who I both admired and respected. Tony was soft-spoken. He was also a careful listener, who was both wise and fair. His enthusiasm for life was always tangible, but ultimate truth had escaped Tony somehow, and yet ultimate truth was his quest.
Many religious people like Tony are very busy trying to answer very complex questions. This usually produces serious reasons for embracing doubt, and doubt alone can kill spiritual life simply because doubt is the opposite of faith. Then when doubt destroys their faith, they begin to worry, and worry makes life even worse. This is why Tony held his religious traditions in such high esteem. It didnít prevent self-doubt or worry, but it left him with a false empty hope concerning his future.
Tony loved to discuss religion from a purely speculative point of view. So when I expressed to him that Jesus was alive, angels are real, and personal inspiration is not only possible - it is widespread, Tonyís expressive face contorted into a look of extreme concern. Tony attacked my faith with every doubt he could extract from reason. He was man on a mission.
Tony and I continued our discussions every day over lunch. My testimony was pulled, tested, and dissected endlessly. You see Tony knew subconsciously that if you compromise any issue of faith to a doubt, faith could be subjected to reason. Christians must beware of the subtlety and hideous evil power that resides in the spirit of reasonable doubt. The Spirit of God began to step in and lead the way. Tony and I were being moved aside. I could see the battle line being drawn.
Doubt vs. Holy Spirit. Doubt struck first.
Tony decided to enlist the support of a nameless Jesuit monk who served the interests of Tonyís doubt. The monk attacked Scripture, specifically an obscure old testament verse in the Book of Leviticus, Chapter 11, verses 6. This verse says, ďAnd the hare(rabbit), because he cheweth the cude, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean to youĒ.
I had to admit that I was surprised to find out that rabbits are unclean (not that I ate rabbits anyway). But according to Tony this was not the problem. The problem, said Tony, is the fact that science knows that rabbits are Ďnotí cud chewers, so the Scripture is not accurate. Therefore it could not have been inspired by a God who is perfect. So Tony asked that I concede just this one point, and I refused.
I explained to Tony that I was just beginning to understand the bible and I was not an expert, however, I was going to turn over this problem to the Holy Spirit. When Tony wanted to know how long was this going to take. I just shrugged my shoulders and said, As long as He wants to take, which brought a smile to Tonyís face.
Subsequently, his smile turned into a mock supplication to heaven. When Tony would encounter me at work, he didnít approach me until he lifted up his arms to inquire from heaven if I had yet received my answer. I in return would simply shake my head from side-to-side in a clear gesture that said Ďnoí. This brought a bountiful smile to Tonyís face, but as this exchange continued for months, I began to sense in my spirit that God was moving because I remained extremely joyful and unexplainably confident.
The men whose lives that had been touched by God, offered me support, and they supported me like a brother. Tony also had his friends though who also added in a look of disappointment or dissatisfaction. First I gave Bob a hard time, and now itís poor Tonyís turn. When will this all end?
Then one day in February of 1973, I received a birthday card from a conference that I attended in the previous year. It was a Christian conference called Unresolved Youth Conflicts. The card they sent to me described in detail how scientist had only recently discovered that rabbits do in fact chew their cude. This card was printed professionally like a greeting card. It had a picture on the front of a beautiful bunny rabbit. The card was addressed to me, of course, and it also had my birthday recorded inside, and the quote from Leviticus 11:6.
The card also posed an interesting question. If science did not understand this characteristic of rabbits until late in the 20th century, how did the author of the scriptures properly classify the rabbit in 1 of the 5 original books of Moses. The Lord blessed me with His Spirit on my birthday. I will never doubt God, because I donít know something. I discovered that God, my Father, does know everything and in time, He would reveal all truth to those that love Him. Do you love Him?
Of course, I immediately took the card into work. I wanted to march right into the managers office and beat Tony over his head with the truth, but I just couldnít do it. So when I prayed about how to confront Tony with this news, I received a very strange impression that actually seemed to make good sense.
The Lord asked me to clean up my entire work area and prepare for an inspection. So this is what I did. After everything was in good order, I placed the birthday card on top of our large, empty counter area. Then I stood at attention and waited for my boss to show up. Tony liked orderliness and neatness.
I hadnít even waited one minute and Tony walked in and he saw me standing at attention looking straight at him. Tony then gave me the waiting on heaven gesture as he lifted both of his hands towards heaven. When he looked back at me, I said nothing, as I reached out and touched my birthday card twice. Immediately, Tonyís face twisted into his doubtful expression. He then shrugged his shoulders and gave me the body language of a question that said, What? He then cautiously walked over gazing at the counter top which I had pointed to once again.
I have my answer for you and the Jesuit, and this is it, I said, as I passed the card to Tonyís side of the counter top. Now when he finished reading the card Tony scratched his head and looked at me with a question that I knew he couldnít ask. Yes, the card is genuine, I added, as I continued to explain how I had attended a Christian Conference, and how they mail out birthday cards with spiritual encouragements to every attendee.
Now as Tony continued to probe the circumstances of how I came to receive this card in particular, I explained to Tony that I had attended the conference 8 months prior to my birthday, and that I had no subsequent conversations with anyone from the conference. Further, none of this made any difference anyway. The Scripture was correct for thousands of years and God never promised to reveal the truth to scientists., but I added He did promise to reveal the truth to those that seek and love Him with all of their heart.
Tony remained perplexed yet quiet, as he attempted to hand me the birthday card. I asked Tony to keep the card and show it to his Jesuit friend.
The Return of the Jesuit
Within one week Tony returned with a new, more speculative challenge from his Jesuit partner in unbelief. Tony had his confidence in personal doubt renewed. He was a man on a mission, and as he revealed the content of his second doubt, he reminded me that my tour of duty in the Navy was growing to a close. I could not wait around for another birthday card. God must move quickly, Tony said, as he revealed the Jesuits second challenge.
Tonyís second attack on Scripture focused on two Old Testament stories that state clearly that time had been stopped (Josh 10: 12-14) on one occasion and reversed (Isaiah 38 7-8) on another. With a total difference of 24 hours of unaccounted for Ďlostí time. The Jesuits question challenged me to explain why science has found no evidence that time had been lost, so these sensational events had to be merely mythological stories. End of story, and no contest, Tony exclaimed.
Except for one prayer to the source of all truth, and some patience, I added with Tonyís obvious but respectful disapproval. You have very little time, Tony reminded me. Tony, I have very little time, itís true, but God has all of time in His hand, and always has. I will trust Him for the answer, and then I prayed a simple pray and gave the problem to God in front of Tony.
This time, however God didnít waste any time providing me with a very significant answer. I had a friend named Dr. Benjamin, who associated with some very bright men who had worked for NASA on the Apollo space program. The problems associated with manned space travel to the moon required extremely precise solutions. Dr. Benjamin was a devote Christian who new about my experiences.
One day I past Dr. Benjamin in the hallway at work and we exchanged greetings. Immediately afterward I heard him hailing me from behind. When I turned around, he had already extended a document towards me that he held in his right hand. This is a wonderful testimony from a friend of mine who works at NASA. I was just thinking that you might like to read it, he said.
Well, could this be? I asked out loud to Dr. Benjaminís surprise. What? , he simply shrugged back at me. Does this article deal with 2 scriptural references to Godís heavenly clock?, I asked. Well yes, he said, and then quickly added, but how did you know that? So I recounted my story concerning Tony and the Jesuit priest. Further, I asked Dr. Benjamin if he would be willing to follow through and speak with Tony concerning his friends report, and Dr. Benjamin was literally thrilled to do so. It is such a wonderful experience to sense the will of God and yield to it.
Now here is where I could really kick myself. You see, when I read the 6 page document I was amazed at both the detail and complexity of the document. I should have made a copy of it before I gave it to Tony, so that I can explain it better now, but when I had finished reading it once, I gave it to Tony.
According to this report, NASA had processed a massive amount of computations concerning the precise working relationship of the heavens. After all, the first time that man ventured out from earthís orbit, he did so with very little reserve resources. The margin of error was slim. So the plotting of heavenly bodies was viewed from every vantage point possible. The Scientists at NASA had worked through solving most of these problems, yet one remained unexplained. In conjunction with the heavenly clock there remain an unexplained, unaccountable, missing 24 hour period of time.
These men readjusted, reprocessed, and rechecked, all of their data three times in an attempt to account for this unacceptable level of imprecision.
Some of the men on the NASA team were Christians who remembered that according to Scripture God had sovereignly affected the outcome of time twice. When the time stated in the bible was factored into the computation the imprecision disappeared. The author of the report that I had in my possession was written by one of the Christian on the NASA team. Historically, the Apollo Program was an extraordinary engineering success.
When I gave the article to Tony, I repeated everything that I had done before by cleaning up my workspace and preparing myself for Tonyís arrival. The article was laying on the console when Tony walked in. Tony repeated his gesture of seeking the heavens teasingly, but when I pointed to console with the document laying there, he hurried over quickly and grabbed the document. After reading the paper, Tony thought it was my own forgery.
Tony wrinkled his brow and gritted his teeth, which conveyed clearly his lack of acceptance. Further, this kind of body language demonstrated that Tony was angry with me for what I had done. So before he could express his anger verbally, I quickly explained how I was prepared to introduce him to both Dr. Benjamin and the author of the article.
Tony physically relaxed. He inhaled once as he looked at the article still in his hands. How is this possible he asked? When I told Tony the story concerning how I had met with Dr. Benjamin, and how I had inquired specifically about these 2 verses of Scripture, and how much of a blessing it is to see things work this way in the kingdom of God, I had to add the explanation of Why this is happening. "It wasnít for us Tony", I explained. "It was for you".
Now preaching, I said, Jesus came into the darkness of this world with all of its doubt, and gives us His living word that we might believe in Him. He is the risen savior. He is not in his grave like everyone else who dies, and that is why this document, which is not available to the public, has been made available to you, because He loves you and He sees your doubt. Having faith is much easier than having doubts will ever be, and having faith in Jesus is more fun as well. Do you want to doubt some more, or are you finished, I inquired?
I am finished, Tony answered almost abruptly, and for the first time of many, Tony initiated a new gesture. He bowed his head and brought his hands together in a gesture of humble, prayer like submission, and every time that he would raise up his face it was always radiating a large relaxed smile, and this became our trademark greeting from then until I left NSA in July of 1973.
Tony gave the paper to the Jesuit, but he never mentioned anything concerning him again. Anyway, we enjoyed each others company far too much to waste it on doubt. From then on Tony wanted to know what Jesus was doing in my life and in the lives of others. It wasnít long before I found him either challenging my faith or encouraging it.
And what about these others. Everyone knew that my time in the Navy was almost over. They were divided into three groups. The largest group by a slim margin wanted me out of there pronto. The second group wanted more time to study what was going on in the lives of the believers. The third group, which consisted of believers, had mixed views which depended on differences in church doctrine.
When my tour of duty ended, I never saw Tony again. I will never forget his warm handshake when we parted ways. We had shared our faith despite the obstacles of doubt. Our faith in Christ did triumph!
When the word got out to others that only a few days remained, the attitude of my adversaries softened. One co-worker named Michael P. had refused to speak with me for over a year. Mike had a serious drinking problem, which with the love and support of his wife, he was able to overcome. His life was changed gradually, yet not without a difficult struggle.
Mike had pride allot like my own, however, somehow untold to me, Mike had been given the help of God's grace, and he found himself compelled to bravely ask asked me an interesting question. Mike walked up to me rather abruptly and asked me outright if it was OK to use his faith in God to overcome his drinking problems?
Tears formed in his eyes before I could even answer him. The Spirit prompted me to say this. "Right now I am watching you use your faith to gain the victory over your pride, to discover the truth that you couldn't previously face, and because of your faith in God the Spirit bears witness that you are winning".
Big Mike P. was unable to speak as he walked away. He raised one arm in salute without turning around. Now Mike P. was one of the engineers that had mocked me earlier.
Later the other engineers came and told me a story that Mike's wife had been involved in a serious auto accident. She was seven months pregnant at the time. The impact was so severe that the baby was turned into a cocked position.
They went on telling this story. A story of God's grace saving a family that they all knew well. The baby, Mike's wife, and Mike himself were all given a second chance. "By whom", I asked one of them. "By God", he answered honestly. "Are you guys preaching now", I asked? None of them said another word. I was ready to leave because I knew that they were all in good hands.
"Jesus is wonderful!", Ralph said as he winked to me his last good-bye, and smiled from ear to ear.
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