Late in the afternoon in early November I was driving down the busy 10 freeway heading west toward my home in Orange County, the sun just then dipping below the sun visor as I cruised past Beaumont. For one brief moment the sun was blotted out by a billboard.
Beyond Reasonable Doubt JESUS IS ALIVE (855) FOR-TRUTH
At first, I laugh. Clever, I think. Then I contemplate that phone number. I wonder. I consider. I mean, what if?
My sense of humor gets the best of me. Curiosity wins. I instruct my car to dial the number.
The electronic ringing echoes through the cabin of my Subaru Outback. One ring. Two rings. The middle of the third trilling ring is cut off as the call connects.
A soft spoken woman answers.
She repeats herself. “Hello?”
“Hello,” I reply. “I’m looking for Jesus.”
She pauses. I think to myself, like he’d actually be there. Like he’d want to talk to me. Ha.
“Just one moment please,” she finally says, and places me on hold. Soft, gentle sitar music floats through the cabin.
I’m skeptical. I mean, anyone could come on the line claiming to be Jesus, right? Still, I’m curious and I have a while to go before I arrive at home.
After a short time the music cuts out and a voice says, “Hello. This is Jesus. What can I do for you?”
How do you answer a question like that, from Jesus? I started with, “Hello Jesus. Welcome back.”
The voice thanked me. Then the voice said, “You have doubts. Not just about me. About many things. Would you like to sit with me, talk?”
Compelling. Invited to sit and talk with Jesus. Still skeptical and now a bit cautious, I think, why not? Some public place, coffee shop or diner, that would be safe. I opened my mouth to speak and that neutral, comforting voice beats me to it: “I understand your disbelief in this moment. How about I meet you at that coffee shop just south of the next exit, Starbucks? My treat. It’s a public place, plenty of people. I want you to feel safe.”
I’m pretty sure my vehicle wobbled a little when Jesus said that. I steadied the car and quietly said, “Yes. See you in a few.”