Never in my life did I ever dream that I would have one of those extraordinary experiences where I didn’t know if it was real or if I was just dreaming. It happened when I was attending a country church one Sunday morning. During the service, I heard the door open in the back and when I looked, I couldn’t believe what I saw! The man looked just like Jesus the way he would have looked back in Biblical times! His eyes were so full of love, kindness, and compassion that I wondered if he really could be Jesus returning in the flesh. Others gave him dirty looks, but to me, it didn’t matter. There was just something about him.
After the service ended and everyone was leaving, I knew I had to find out more about this fascinating stranger. I followed him out the door and kept a silent pace beside him not sure what to say to him.
Walking along a path beside a field, I finally asked him, "Sir, may I ask your name?" In a quiet voice, he said, "My name is Jesus." For some reason, I didn't disbelieve him. Then he added, "Do you believe that I am Jesus?" I thought for a moment and replied, "I won't say that you're NOT Jesus. Why did you come here today?" He responded, "I visit many churches around the world."
"You know, there's one thing I've always wanted to ask you. There are millions of people on this earth with just as many different beliefs and thousands of different religions… how are we to know which one is right or wrong?" Slowly he said, "Most all religions have so much good in them. The important thing is…what do you believe? ”
"But how do I know if what I believe is right? Everyone says that I should believe their way. They have different interpretations of the Bible, and each says that theirs is right. It can all be pretty confusing." He glanced at me for a moment and answered, "Trust your own heart. Your own faith. The Spirit that is within you.”
We were both silent as we came to a large meadow filled with the most magnificent flowers. Everything seemed to be so alive and spectacular! We stopped and again I asked, "Why do people judge each other so much? They judge the way people look, the way they dress, the way they live, the way they believe…just because someone believes differently or has different opinions."
He contemplated this for a moment and then said, "People judge what they don't understand because it is easier than having to love or to have compassion and understanding. People fear the unknown and they wrap themselves in their beliefs like they would a blanket to protect themselves and their feelings. It makes them feel safe that what they believe is the only right way.”
Just then, I happened to look down and found a beautiful little flower that seemed to stand out among the rest, so I bent down away from him to pick it out from the blanket of color it rested in. While my back was to him, he spoke to me. "Karen, there is one thing that I want you to remember. I will always love you, no matter what."
When I stood up and turned to give him the flower, he was gone! I looked around, but he was nowhere to be seen! I stood there stunned wondering how he could have disappeared so quickly, but there was only one explanation. I don't know how long I stayed there. The first I noticed that it might be getting late was when I felt a chill from the evening air as the sun started to go down. I looked around to be sure he really wasn't standing someplace where I couldn’t see him. When I couldn't find him, I sighed and began walking home.
Was the man I spoke to really Jesus? Or was he just a man off the street who thought he was? Was it all just a dream? I will probably never know. I do know that I will not deny that I met Jesus and spent some time with him. Whether it really happened or not, I believe that it was an experience that changed my life forever and I will always be grateful.
(This story is excerpted from an actual dream I had in 1989. For the full version of the dream, please go to http://kalina-spiritualoasis.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-man-at-back-of-church.html )
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper September 18, 2015.