We all sat down cross-legged on the floor in front of the bed.
"How would you like it if you had a telephone that was a direct line to God," said Crazy Ed, "and you could talk to Him personally, anytime you wanted to?"
I could use one of those right now. Couldn’t anybody? "I would like that," I admitted.
"Good. I thought so. Now, here’s how it works. Right now, you’re not connected. God wants to talk to you, but it’s expensive to get hooked up because of all the sin in your life… and you don’t have enough to cover it."
What – did I have a sign on my forehead that said "sinner" or something? How should he know? I had a hard time believing all those other people outside the door hadn’t done plenty of sins themselves. What kind of a club was this, anyway?
"Nobody does," he answered the question like he had read my mind.
"So, what’s the point then?" I asked.
"The point is, somebody already paid the bill for you. Jesus did. He took the rap for every bad thing you did, just so you could have one of those connections, free and clear. He did it because He loves you."
"I don’t even know Him."
"He knows you, though."
"I thought He was dead."
"What?" I had never heard of such a thing. I looked over at the teacher.
"He’s alive," she informed me. "He loves you. And He has a wonderful plan for your life. Something you’ve always wanted to do and never thought you could. Better than anything you could imagine."
"That’s a fairy tale." At least in my life it was.
"It’s no fairy tale," said Crazy Ed.
"How do you know?" I asked.
"Because He told me. Pointed you out to me the minute you came in tonight."
"It’s because I didn’t eat the snack. I didn’t want to be guilty of anyone’s body and blood."
"That was communion, and you were right not to take it. That’s only for people who have accepted the sacrifice He made by dying for their sins."
"I thought you said He was alive. That you even talked to Him tonight."
"He’s alive because the power of God shot its way into hell and raised Him from the dead. Because he didn’t deserve to be there. He was just taking the rap for all of us who did. It was such a selfless act it was enough to pay for a free ticket to heaven for anybody who wants to take it. The phone connection comes with the deal. You want one of those tickets?"
"What do I have to do to get it?"
"You can’t do anything to get it. You can’t buy it. There’s no way you can earn it. Nobody can. That’s because it’s a gift straight from Him. Of course, it’s your choice. You don’t have to accept somebody’s gift if you don’t want to. But it would be pretty lame to turn your nose up at something that cost so much… especially when He’s been waiting to meet you for a long time. It would be sort of like making Him suffer all over, again. For nothing."
"I wouldn’t want to do that to Him."
"Tell Him, then."
"Right now? But I don’t have a connection."
"He’s on the line, go ahead."
"What do I say?"
"Just say, Jesus, I’m sorry for what you went through because of me, and I would like to accept your gift of heaven, with a direct line to God – right here in my heart – for anytime I want to talk."
I repeated it. The teacher sniffed and then blew her nose. She was sort of teary-eyed, like she had just been at a wedding, or heard news that a new baby had been born. I didn’t feel any different. No thunder had rumbled, and there had been no earthquakes. I definitely didn’t hear any voice saying, "Hello."
"About that voice…" Crazy Ed explained. Was this guy a mind-reader, or what? "It takes a little practice to get used to hearing it, because it comes from the inside of you, not the outside."
"How do I know it’s even real?"
"Tomorrow -- maybe even the minute you leave this room – there’s going to be a lot of people, and circumstances, and maybe even your own thoughts that will try to convince you that it isn’t real. That’s because there’s still a battle going on for people’s souls and the devil doesn’t want anybody getting a free ticket. They’ll especially try to convince you that nothing supernatural happened in this room, at all. But every time something like that pops up, you just start thanking Jesus for that wonderful gift all over again. And don’t worry, He’ll prove Himself to you. Matter of fact, why don’t you ask Him to prove He’s real to you right now?"
I did. Nothing happened. I looked at Crazy Ed.
"Well, it’s like any other gift," He picked up his big black Bible and held it out to me. "Say, this is it and I’m offering it to you. What would you do?"
"I’d take it."
"So, take it."
I reached out and put my hands on that book… and took the first whole breath I had ever breathed in my life. All of a sudden, I had enough air – I had more than enough – I had so much, I felt lightheaded! It was the last thing in the world I expected. All I was asking for was a connection, and now… "I can breathe – I can --" I felt like I could laugh and cry all at the same time.
"She got it," said Crazy Ed. "Now keep talking to Him every day. And read the Bible. It will help you learn the difference between right and wrong."
I did. And Jesus continued to prove Himself to me over and over, again. I was a junior in high school, and I got to take a P.E. class for the first time in my life. I took archery, and tennis, and swimming… and I could still breathe! If this is what knowing Jesus was, why weren’t people running after Him in droves?
They were. I discovered miracles were happening all over the place. I went from church to church, meeting to meeting, just to watch this miracle-working Jesus prove Himself to people. It was so much more exciting than hanging out at the local hamburger joint with friends, asking each other what we should do that day. If I wanted an adventure, Jesus had one going any day of the week. There was no shortage of them, and they were thrilling. I got better and better at listening to Him, too.
I even stopped lying to my parents and my teachers. After a while, I began to wonder why I ever felt I had to. I felt like I could do anything. I wanted to do everything. What if I wanted to do nothing but travel and have adventures for the rest of my life? Was that possible?
He said anything was possible.
He said yes when everyone else in my world had been telling me, no.
By the time I was seventeen, I had not only brought up my grades, I accelerated my classes and graduated early. I was so starved for a big adventure by then I was ready to head out to Africa by myself if I had to…
And that’s when the most wonderful man in the world stepped into my life.
What’s happening on the farm today: Hay is scarce in these parts. You can’t buy it at any of the feed stores in town anymore, and people are even driving up from Texas to get it from local farmers around here. We were down to our last bale, and the guy we regularly buy from said he was running low himself but might be able to sell us a couple of bales. Definitely not a truck load, though. Then he didn’t call back, and we thought we might have to drive all the way to Kansas to get some. And there was a freezing rain, with the threat of snow in the next couple of hours. Come to find out, he HAD called – our phone just didn’t ring. He let us have a whole truck load. Not only that but he also said he would save some back for us for next time, too. We felt highly favored!
Habit status: Day 10 round 2 (if this isn’t a habit, I don’t know what is)