By Pat Fitzpatrick
As a young teacher in Atlanta, I developed a mentoring friendship with a colleague who taught Old and New Testament survey. George was a master of the English language like none other I have ever met, which was made even more impressive by the fact that English was the sixth or seventh language that he had mastered in his forty-five years on earth.
I often reflect on a conversation he and I had in the school’s dining hall in the late 1980’s. I hope it brings you as much encouragement this Easter as it gives me each time I think of it. The conversation went something like this:
“When did you become a Christian, George?”
“I was a student in Lebanon finishing my undergraduate studies in biology when I gave my life to Christ.” (My friend later went on to earn an M.Div. from Duke University and a Ph.D. from Emory University)
“What were the circumstances that led to your conversion?” I asked.
“I was in Damascus on holiday, and I found myself walking by the empty tomb of Jesus. I stopped at the empty tomb and pronounced to myself with sincere conviction, ‘if the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a hoax, I will fight Christianity until the day I die. If Jesus really did rise from the dead, however, I will serve Him with my whole heart.’ As soon as I said this, Jesus appeared to me with His arms outstretched…and then he vanished.”
“Come on,” I said, with skepticism. I waited for his mouth to upturn into a smirk. I was looking for any indication that he was kidding. Nothing – no smirk, no “just kidding.” He waited quietly for my reaction.
I had, of course, read about theophanies (there are plenty of examples in scripture where God appears in visible form – see Genesis 32:22-32 and Joshua 5:13-15), but I had never heard of this outside of biblical times. I considered the radical transformation that George had personally experienced, the lifelong devotion to God and to his ministry to family, school, church, and community. He was one who lived the truth of Christ’s resurrection power daily. How could I, then, remain skeptical if he claims to be telling the truth?
“You’re serious about this? You’re telling me the truth?” “Absolutely.”
“Wow…you are so blessed.”
I sat back wondering why God hadn’t revealed Himself to me in such a vivid way until George put everything into perspective.
“No,” George said, “Blessed are those who believe without seeing.” (see John 20:29)
How about you? Have you made the choice to bend your knee, your will, your all to the living savior? If you haven’t, may this Easter become the Easter where Ephesians 2:1-10 becomes part of your personal story as you are “brought to life because of the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Jesus Christ.”
Patrick Fitzpatrick is a Christian school educator in his twelth year as the head of school at Plumstead Christian School, located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Patrick and his wife Sharon have been married for thirty-four years and enjoy being the parents of five children and the grandparents of two. Patrick enjoys writing poetry and children’s books including his latest, Princess of the Misty Mufu Mountains, a story of adoption, adventure, and love. Patrick’s mother worked for many years at Focus on the Family and still lives in the Colorado Springs area.