4. A SUPERNATURAL WALK WITH JESUS
I don’t expect everyone to believe this story. But, I share this experience with a friend who will testify to its authenticity. It goes beyond logic and rational explanation. I have never before mentioned it publicly, not in a sermon, witnessing, or counseling nor in fellowship with those closest to me. The agnostic will dismiss it as a hallucination. The psychiatrist as autosuggestion. The lip service Christian will question my sanity. Even the most passionate practicing church-goer will raise a doubting eyebrow. No matter! I put it before you with pride and humility, unashamed and without apology. These few words of prelude are merely a recognition of the fact that in an age of nuclear weapons, space exploration, or what ever else cannot be tested in a wind tunnel or laboratory or formulated on an engineer’s drawing board is generally treated with skepticism, but the total knowledge of man doesn’t bubble up in a test tube or flow from a slide rule. There are spiritual experiences that surpass human understanding. This is one of them.
I had been invited to preach a two week revival at the First Baptist Church, Lake Tahoe, on the Nevada-California border. Reverend Gordon Siler, the dear pastor, Ron Willis was leading the song service and I were all about the same age.
One night during the meeting I felt a deep inner need to go to Lake Tahoe to pray. It was the awesome feeling I often get when God wants to speak to me in a special way. I asked Pastor Siler to go with me, but he said, “It’s too cold. You might lose your voice. Why don’t you pray here at the church?”
“No,” I said. “I must go there and pray.” And then I asked Ron if he would go and he agreed.
It was cold when Ron and I arrived at the mile high lake. Clear skies revealed the surrounding mountains and their snow-covered beauty. The night was bright and the stars sparkled in their own special way. The snow was deep on the ground with high drifts. Walking along the shore, we began to talk about Peter, one of Christ’s disciples, an early evangelist. We spoke of how the disciple saw Jesus walking on the water and Peter asked Him if he, too, could walk on the water to Jesus. The story is recorded in Matthew 14:28-31 and tells how Peter stepped out of the ship and walked on the water toward Jesus, then became fearful as he saw the boisterous wind arise and he began to sink. “Lord, save me,” he said, and Jesus reached and stretched forth His hand and caught him saying, “Oh, thou of little faith, why did you doubt?”
I had criticized Peter for becoming afraid. Tonight I was admiring him for doing something that no one but Jesus had ever done. He walked on the water!
As Ron and I walked, we reached a snow bank, so we turned around and started back along the shore when something on the water caught my eye. HIM! He was there, standing on the water! I shook my head in disbelief and turned away. Ron had his back to the lake, then he looked out over the lake and turned to me.
“Arthur, have you looked out over the lake?”
“Yes, I saw him, too, Ron. What is happening?”
No words can express my shock and glorious emotion. We both decided to look around the at the lights and mountains. We were sure this was not a strange reflected light or a dream or a vision. I wanted to know forever without any doubt that what I was seeing was Jesus, forreal. I had to know for my own sake. I looked again. HIM, Jesus my Lord, still there – unmistakably there standing on the water, and now He came walking toward us. His garment was as bright as a fluorescent lamp, glittering, shining and sparkling, so immaculate and pure that it looked more like silver than white. Glory flooded over me.
Awareness of cold, snow, and doubt was non-existent. All of life was now. My spirit leaped, and then the most awful feeling of sin and guilt, uncleanliness possessed me. Ron and I fell to our knees in the snow just at the water’s edge. My head was bowed and I could not look. Lord, how vile, filthy, vulgar and dirty I am. Oh, Jesus, have mercy, wash me, cleanse me, free me, save me from my vile life. Tears poured, my body shook in agony. I thought my insides would burst open in grief. Then peace, glory and brightness filled me. I was clean. An inner glow burst forth inside me. Joy flooded my soul and I was laughing and saying, “Thank you, Jesus, oh, my Lord, I love You. Praise You, all glory and honor and praise be unto You.”
Still on my knees, I looked up. He was coming closer, slowly walking toward us, closer and closer. I felt I would burst with joy and peace covered me. It seemed as if I was beginning to float out to Him, then He stopped, stood and looked at us. If He had taken another step I think two bodies would have been found on the shore the next morning. Ron and I would have gone to be with Him.
At that moment I understood what death is for the follower of Jesus. It is simply going to be with Him, stepping out of the flesh into His arms, being with Him completely. This is not death; this is everlasting life, exactly as promised in the Bible. I also understood that I would never fear death again. Jesus and the will of the Father was my value. I had been set free from the opinion of men, the secular and religious value system of success and failure. Jesus is everything. You lose interest in earthly values when you have been with Jesus. He was standing only about ten feet away. I could see Jesus clearly as He stood on the water.
In the Bible His closest disciples chose not to reveal anything about His looks, even the apostle Paul saw Him and never spoke of His looks, not even the description given by John in Revelation tells us about His real physical characteristics, so if the Bible remains silent, so will I.
I have never spoken to anyone of this, but for years now every time I preach I look up toward Heaven and I can see Him in my mind. I know why I am there to preach, who is with me, and it is all unto Him. It is like He is the embodiment of all things. I could have stayed forever as He looked at me, then I heard the voice of Ron saying, “Arthur, I think it’s time to go.”
I can’t explain it, but so did I. We stood, tears of joy pouring from our eyes. I was the richest person on earth!
I will continue to speak my words of love to Jesus, knowing I’d probably never see Him again until…. With all the strength I had, I turned to walk away, only a few steps, I could stand it no more. I could not just walk away; I wanted Him to bless me. I needed that. I turned toward the waters of Lake Tahoe again, Jesus was walking away. I cried out, “Lord, bless me, bless me.” Oh, I wanted to see Jesus again. He turned toward me, lifted up His hand and looked at me. Wave after wave of His power swept over me and engulfed me. He was passing to me a gift … more faith, more love, more belief, more courage. I was speechless. Jesus was blessing me!
There is no vocabulary to describe the precious tender moments of that union with Him. Then high above, a cloud began to form. There was a glorious brightness about it … like a fog of glory. The cloud seemed to get lower and Jesus rose up into the cloudy fog, then it began to dissolve. Not to go away, but to dissolve in the same place. Soon the sky above the lake was clear. Jesus was gone.