Chapter 22 – The Chat

We sat in the living room facing each other. Jason thought it was a good idea to read a bible verse and pray before we began talking. I remember thinking, this is different. Jason opened his bible and read from Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” I immediately remembered the verse and smiled as I recalled the evening of my birthday when Jason presented to me the sweetest gift ever.  As he prayed he asked God to guide our conversation so that it can be fruitful. Wow! Who prays like that? I thought. I was now intrigued with his lifestyle; the more I spent time with Jason the more I became amazed with his way of living.

As Jason’s prayer ended, I started to share. “That is where it all started.” I said. “It was on my birthday when I unwrapped your gift and read that verse. I experienced a presence I never experienced before. It was crazy! When I read that verse something inside me was unleashed. I felt awakened to another world and I did not know what to do about it. Since that day I have been reading my bible and searching for answers through my daily experiences. Sometimes I feel like crying other times I feel like screaming. It is so weird.”  As I shared my heart with Jason and made eye contact with him, I could not help noticing the colour of his eyes as the sunlight escaped through the curtains an unto his face. Jason’s eyes were light brown, just as seen in the dream.  Wow!, I thought!  Now this is really corny.

After listening attentively Jason looked at me and said. “I am so happy for you.”  He was smiling ear to ear.  In response to my facial expression of disbelief, he continued to explain. “What you are experiencing is something good. I cannot explain everything about it, but I can identify with it. I have had similar experiences; I completely understand.” I moved to the edge of my seat as I continued to listen. “The presence you felt on your birthday was God. I believe that was an answer to my prayer.”  “What do you mean?”  I hastened to ask.  “I prayed that he would reveal himself to you.  I have been praying for you since the first time we met.”

I looked away from Jason and down to my interlocked fingers. “Wow! Jason! Were you really praying for me, all this time?”   “Yes! All this time!”  Jason proudly declared. This was really strange territory for me. All I had was some Sunday School stories about creation, a few popular bible stories like “Jonah and the Whale” and  “Daniel in the Lion’s Den”.  Added to that was the emphasis on giving to the poor and attending church. I never heard about the presence of God in this manner and my idea of prayer was something you do when you found yourself in trouble or as part of a religious ceremony. I felt honoured just knowing that I was being prayed for by Jason even before he got to know me.

The conversation with Jason was filled with such revealing and exciting moments.  It seemed unreal, or was it? I pinched my arm discreetly as I leaned back on my chair.

Chapter 23 – The Prayer

Jason continued to enlighten me as he explained Jeremiah 29:11. “That verse in Jeremiah shows that God has a plan for all of us and His plans are always good, even when it does not seem that way. First and foremost is His plan for everyone to be repent from their wrongs and to worship Him. I believe if you are patient and choose to believe in His plan for your life you would get to experience greatness” “How do you know for sure?” I asked. “Why would God be that interested in me. What makes me so special?”

Jason set out to provide answers. “Look at this,” he said and reached for his phone which was in his pants pocket. A minute later he passed his phone to me and asked me to read what was on the screen. I read it aloud, “Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” “Check this one out too,” Jason urged as he retrieved a second verse. I read it to myself. It said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” It was taken from John 3:16 a verse I heard before.

Jason then said, “Imagine even before you were born, God sent His son Jesus to die for your sins. “Yes, yes, I responded, I am very familiar with the story of the birth of Christ and why He came but never understood it in such a personal way.  What I experienced that day felt like a personal touch from God and it is unforgettable because it was on my birthday. Jason you speak about God as someone who desires to have a relationship with us, to know us.  Someone who planned for us over two thousand years ago.   I never saw God that way.”

“Maxine,  when Jesus Christ died on the cross He died with you in mind and His grace is extended to you and everyone else.  He gracefully extends eternal life to anyone who believe.  But it is more than just eternal life.  He empowers you to live successfully on this Earth. He gives you a peace and a joy that no one has ever fully explain.  He changes your desires, your interests, and your will, He transforms you totally.”   I looked at Jason as he shared with deep conviction and wondered if it was all true.   I have grown quite comfortable with my life as it is.   I felt pretty good as an educated citizen who sought to treat my family and my friends well.   I was no law breaker and certainly not a hypocrite as some of my church friends.   Suddenly, I felt overwhelmed, scared and confused.

I knew that something was going on with me, something I could not explained.  I felt turmoil inside and desired to understand clearly what was happening.   I looked at Jason and somehow believed that even though I could not fully understand what he was sharing with me, he could be trusted.  I got up from where I was sitting and walked to the living room window.  I could see it was moonlight as the reflection of the moonlight could be seen on the windshield of Dad’s vehicle.  I felt lost and without a compass to direct me.  I turned around and looked at Jason who was now standing where he once sat, looking at me, in silence.  “Could you pray for me? Please?”  I asked. I detected the tremble in my voice and sought to quickly compose myself by taking a deep breath.

Jason walked towards me, placed his hand on my shoulder and prayed.  “Dear God, please reveal yourself to Maxine and give her peace. As she searches for answers please open her eyes and her heart to receive from you. In Jesus Name, Amen!.”   That’s it? I asked, looking up at him a bit perplexed.  “Yes, that’s it!  Accepting that Jason had just prayed for me, I relaxed, opened the front door and made my way to the front porch; Jason followed me.  “Please be sure to tell your entire family thanks again for me.  My evening was wonderful.”   Jason smiled at me as he said good night and walked towards his vehicle.  As he drove out of the front yard I re-entered the living room and closed the door.

Chapter 24 – The Change

As the weeks went by my life slowly changed; it felt like maturity and it felt good. I spent less time hanging out with friends, watching television, and liaising around. I continued to develop an interest in God and spiritual matters. I became more enthused about learning, pursuing my dreams and building healthy relationships with my family. My life felt more meaningful, even while still having unanswered questions.

I enrolled in a Marketing Degree at St Peter’s Community College, my Employer. It was always my goal to further my studies in Marketing after achieving my Associate Degree from the said College. I was always intrigued by the power of Advertisements, and company branding; I loved designing and creating content. As an employee of St. Peter’s Community College, I enjoyed a 40% discount on tuition fees, a benefit I no longer wanted to take for granted. Classes were both in person and online. I implemented a study schedule that demanded me to manage my time effectively.  I became more focused and very occupied.

Jason and I remained connected.  I continued to visit his Church. Each Sunday I visited I became more knowledgeable as many of my questions about faith and the bible were answered.  I felt uplifted by the music and the fellowship. I never felt pressured or judged but rather accepted. It was an experience I would often question as it seemed so unreal and so unnatural.  The response from my family to my regular attendance to church was positive and I was grateful for that.  While Rena appeared to have no interest in accompanying me, she would often enquire about how things went.  Dad and I would have numerous discussions about the weekly messages. Joel accompanied me most times and began making a few friends.

I missed my best friend, Nicky, terribly.  It was a while since we did something together. After moving into her new apartment, she seemed to become more interested in living a private and independent life. The anticipated sleepovers were not taking place as often as I hoped.  I too became occupied with my new friendship and had to admit that my interest in certain activities was dwindling, such as the after-work limes at our favourite bars. I struggled with this change that I did not fully understand. Nicky was my best friend, and I treasured her friendship wholeheartedly. I was scared that things between us may be changing and I did not know what to do about it.