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10/8/2000

Dear Thomas,

I'm sorry to find myself responding to your very educated, very well-thought-out debate about the God I know to be real in an emotional way. I can't compete on your advanced intellectual level, I freely admit to you. But I have found God to be very much alive in the lives of those who believe in Him and I hope to persuade you in the only way I know how: by my own experience with God.

I don't want you to imagine that I don't appreciate all of your reasonable arguments as to whether or not God is real. In fact, for well over two years I have participated on a lively internet forum wherein God is the topic and one which has always maintained about a 50/50 mix of atheists/agnostics, various levels of "religion" (including even a Wiccan - which is really just New Age witchcraft), and of course a spattering of committed Christians.

I have realized over the years of participation on that forum though, that there isn't a legitimate argument in the whole wide world that will get a guy to his knees, confessing Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. I've learned that there's no amount of persuasion which can effect a man's heart toward God. I've learned this is true, as I'm sure you've heard confessed by other Christians that Faith, by it's very nature, cannot be proved. Therefore it makes little sense to debate it.

There is, however, a weapon available to us Christians much more effective than our words: our prayers, the Bible tells us, are capable of even 'moving mountains'! Your heart, sir, is a piece of proverbial cake where God is concerned as I'm sure many, many others besides me have prayed for your salvation by this time. And if you knew me at all, you'd know that as I type these words to you I do so with a light heart and only your best interest in mind. There's not even a hint of animosity in my response, in other words, sir. I fully respect your position. But make no mistake about it, Thomas, I aim to change it. [smile] Having read how highly Dr. Ross Olson (my kids' pediatrician) thinks of you I also want you to know that I respect your integrity.

I'm sure by now you've heard of the "doubting Thomas" of Biblical fame. Even he, one of the 12, was persuaded only after seeing the evidence of the risen Jesus' wounds, demanding even to put his hands in them to be sure it was indeed Him standing there in his midst. Jesus isn't afraid of the challenge of proving Himself to the doubters. Jesus even chose Thomas as one of the 12 for the sake of those like you coming down the road years later - I'm convinced of this. Nope. Jesus whole ministry, crammed with one miracle after another, was based on the fact that He'd have to back up His claim of Deity by miracles - proof, if you will. He even said this: "If you don't believe Me, believe on the miracles!" (John 10:38)

My prayer for you, Thomas, isn't that you'll believe on the following miracle (this one, as you'll see, was just for Ed). But I've prayed that you will one day see the evidence of God because of His own personal little (or big?) miracle for you. This one that I've posted on that forum before, is just for dramatic effect, I suppose you could say and because your intelligence reminds me of Ed.

Here you go:

"Anyone want to hear about a cool little miracle performed by God Almighty for our friend, Ed?

First, you'll have to know a little something about Ed to really appreciate the story. Ed is a very smart guy. He's been one of those almost lifelong students, with occasional career stints in between degrees. On one of the career stints he met my then-bachelor husband by working in the same office. They were lunch buddies mostly, but they were fairly well acquainted and so when I met Steve, it wasn't long before I also met Ed.

He's one of those guys that are so smart many people are a little intimidated by him. As a result, and combined with some slightly unusual healthier-than-most eating habits, Ed didn't have a wide range of friends. I think quite a few people think of him as a little odd and so... so what? I liked him. I have found him to be a great conversationalist, knowing a little bit about pretty much anything; and a lot about much. In one exceptionally revealing conversation about himself, his youth, it came out that Ed's father never once told him that he loved him. I found that to be the most amazing thing that Ed ever said. Never even one hug that he recalls from his father. I couldn't imagine that.

I know Ed's been in love from afar with a couple of women since I've known him these 14 years, but he's never been, shall I say, 'lucky in love' and has remained a bachelor. I think he's 50 this year. Anyway I guess he finally decided that he loved the college campuses so much that he's made a career of even that. He's now Ed, PhD. - a professor of Environmental Studies at a Southwestern United States university. We were very happy for him on this achievement. He's the only Doctor *we* ever have over to the house!

All the time I've known Ed I've dropped hints and opinions about God. I was even able to share my testimony (in a very brief way) with him once. I told him of the time I'd "met God" in my bath- tub, no less, after realizing my need of a Savior from the sins in my life. It didn't affect him much, I don't think. The news just sort of laid there actually, in the middle of the room, as though there was now a sort of strange object over in the corner, hanging around. Or as though there was now a big old spot on the rug that no one was mentioning. It came and went and was never discussed again for years and years.

But then I wasn't much of a pray-er and therefore had very little substantial Faith myself to lean on or be confident about. Since I've come to realize that pretty much nothing on a spiritual level happens without prayer happening first, I think my words fell on deaf atheistic ears pretty hard and were of no real value where Ed's salvation is concerned. In fact later on, He and I went around and around on the God topic by email. It was nuts. He got so defensive and argumentative about everything I said that we agreed to just quit talking about God altogether. It almost ruined our relationship, in fact. Since I didn't want to risk that, I promised never to debate with him about God again. No one was ever born of the Holy Spirit through an argument. God canno

t be reasoned. He's not found with our brains, after all, but with our heart.

I had agreed to keep God to myself where Ed was concerned; he'd made it clear that he didn't want to discuss it and I had to respect that. But that didn't mean I had to stop praying for him. I've started putting the names of a lot of people I know down in my prayer journal now. And now, finally (and due to those prayers), I've started to see God doing some things in their lives that neither they nor I would have seen before.

When God brings him to mind now, I throw one up for old Ed. And whenever Ed's in town, a couple of times a year, he usually spends at least one night at our house. He's great with the kids and we love to have him.

He surprised us last spring calling late in the day on a Saturday saying he needed our couch on Sunday night. The Hyatt he'd been staying at while here the other 2 nights just got a little dull, I guess. I can't personally imagine the preference of our hide-a-bed in the basement to the downtown Hyatt Hotel. I guess he's so desperately lonely at times that even that seems like a good swap. A praying friend's advice to me when told of his visit that night was to, 'treat him like a King.'

So we did our best to make him feel welcome. We picked him up and brought him to brunch with us after Church. We didn't always go to brunch but it was Mother's Day. So what's a "mother" to do? After lunch we decided it was way too nice outside to go home so we went out to fly kites after we ate. We don't usually spend $18 on a kite but he and my husband had stopped in their car to get it on the way to the park. (Because I'm on the Worship Team at Church and have to get there early, we usually have two cars there to bring home)

Ed and Gaila were flying the brand new kite. It was one of those non-stop windy Spring days - perfect for kites. Suddenly it got away from him, and it just took off. He and my husband, Steve, went running after it. Way, way after it. They climbed a small bluff and were roaming around behind buildings in an office complex trying to get to where they thought that kite had gone.

The kids and I stayed behind, and I don't know why, but knowing how bad Ed must have begun to feel, having been the one who'd let go of it, and knowing how much twenty bucks meant to us, well, I just thought God ought to be petitioned about the whole thing. So the kids and I just briefly prayed, asking God the Father to use this whole thing to His glory. Then, as is our habit, we started imagining how God might answer the prayer. We thought how cool it would be if God glorified Himself by making that kite fly right into our own backyard, about 10 miles away from where we'd lost it - it WAS headed in just the right direction. And, "Lord, wouldn't that just absolutely convince that atheist Ed of Your power?"

Well, God had a different idea, it turned out.

First a policeman stopped us. By this time we were driving around to find Steve and Ed, they'd run so far away looking for it. The cop was quizzing us on our reasons for roaming around in the rear parking lot of an office complex on a Sunday afternoon. And, I thought, was being pretty nasty about it to boot. It was clear he didn't believe us - or care that we'd lost our kite. About this time the guys turned up. Empty-handed they found us there and were about to get into my car when another policeman drove up and was told about out goofy problem. I also mentioned, loud enough for everyone standing there to hear, that we were praying about it so there was hope. (Even though I knew that only my kids and I really believed that God would or could "respond" to the prayer)

The cop who'd just arrived said, "Oh, yeah, we just saw your kite. It's traveling over Highway 13 and was heading over the High School a few minutes ago - but it's still a couple hundred feet up in the air."

Where he'd seen it was really far from where we were so we all decided to head for home. Ed, Steve and our little Stevie (4 yrs) drove home in the other car. When I pulled my car into the driveway, Gaila, whose Faith is admirable for her years, ran to the backyard to look to see if God had brought it back to our yard like we'd hoped He would. Nope; not this time. Oh, well. Quite honestly I'd begun to think maybe we'd seen the last of it by then.

About 30 minutes later the guys got home, though, and that kite was in their hands!

The answer to prayer was for Ed's sake, you see, not mine or Gaila's. We already believe in Him. But God is always pursuing a love relationship with those who don't know Him and He is quick to answer prayers that will show Himself to them, He wants so much to convince them of His reality. He wants every last one of us in heaven with Him for all eternity. He already knows that me and the kids believe in Him. This miracle was for Ed!

Ed knew we'd prayed about the fate of that kite and God had decided to show Ed how amazing He is. When an atheist hears a Christian say something about their prayers, their usual reaction is just sort of a chuckle and they see it as quaint I suppose, wondering how anyone can be so naive. I guess God has decided Ed's chuckling days are about to come to an end. Ed was still talking about how remarkable that kite's return was the next morning on the way to the airport. Here's what happened:

In their car on the way home, like I said, about 10 miles from where we lived, Stevie's dad had jokingly told Stevie to, "watch for the kite, now." I'm sure both he and Ed laughed at the thought of it. 'Quaint' you know. My husband's Faith goes only so far since he doesn't pray for people or circumstances in a serious way yet; although he trusts Christ for his salvation, and for that I'm so grateful.

Quite out of the blue, though, those two heard Stevie yell from the back seat, "There it is!" Ed and Steve Sr. strained to find what Ed said later was a spot no bigger than the head of a pin in the sky, it was so far away. But as they drove closer to it, their eyes got wider and they could see that it was that kite! Good news!

The bad news was that as they drove closer they found it snagged on a telephone wire. No way was anyone going to climb for it and the wind had it aloft quite a distance still up in the air. If the story had ended there it would just have been sort of a nice story.

Then the miracle for Ed happened. While the three of them were standing there under that taughtly air-lifted kite the wind just suddenly stopped blowing, although it had blown all afternoon. Ed said the kite drifted right down into Steve's hands as he stood there; without even moving a step to catch it.

"It just floated right down!" Ed kept saying over and over again. Even the next morning he kept saying, "it just stopped blowing and it floated right down!"

The Doctor was impressed. I just kept saying, "Hallelujah. God is so cool."

I don't know. I somehow don't think Ed's going to be an atheist very much longer. I think God's chasing after him and pretty soon old Ed's gonna give up. I'll keep praying for him, loving him and treating him like a King. I'll wait for the email notice from him, telling me he's found God, too, one day. It's sure to come; maybe the next real windy day."

Sincerely and respectfully, Thomas,

Rose of Sharon (aka: RoS)

My favorite promise of Jesus Christ to His own is this: "If you believe you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." (Matthew 21:22)

Steve & Sharon Sullivan
exsulent{at}bbmail.net

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