by Philip Zimmerman
“Oh my Jesus you’re real how can this be … ” Soon my mind was overfilled with emotion and wonder as I simply stood in the middle of the boulevard, shaking as if chilled, while tears streamed down my face. It was at this moment I went from believing Jesus was real, to knowing He was real.
This miraculous discovery was initiated in the spring of 8th grade at Broadmoor Junior High when my father asked me to go to school and say my goodbyes as we were moving to Akron, Ohio that coming weekend. I was dumbfounded; how could this be? I obeyed, saying my goodbyes with a sense of dread while having my teachers sign school transfer papers, as boxes at my house were being filled and loaded into a moving van.
For three straight nights in hotel beds on our way to Akron, I cried myself to sleep repeating this prayer, “Jesus, if you’re real you’ll let me graduate with my high school class and I’ll be OK with this move. Jesus, if you’re … ” Upon arrival in Akron my life was upside down with a new school, no friends, and only six weeks left in 8th grade. I was miserable and didn’t recover until P.E. soccer in October of 9th grade when I met Joe Flohr, who had a motorcycle, and invited me to ride. Life had made a change for the better.
In January of my junior year I heard my mom talking about how my dad had lost his job and was sending out his résumé. I didn’t know what that meant until early April when my dad said he had very nice job offers in Virginia Beach, Va., Orange, Texas, and Lake Charles, La., and asked me to which of the three would I like to move? I sheepishly said Lake Charles, thinking perhaps of being closer to Baton Rouge and going to LSU. But inside I was devastated, as I had to move again and miss my senior year with now close friends.
The night before my dad left to formally accept the job, he received a call from a company that had just build a plant in Plaquemine like the one he was going to manage in Lake Charles; problem was they didn’t have anyone to run it. They were calling to see if they could make my dad an offer that would change his mind about Lake Charles and get him to manage their plant in Plaquemine instead. An acceptable offer was made and my dad flew to Baton Rouge and began working in Plaquemine.
He came back to Akron after a week with pictures of a new house for my mother to inspect. When I asked where the house was located and where I’d go to school my dad said Tara Subdivision and Tara High School; both brand new. When he asked why I looked so disappointed, I asked about living near our old house and perhaps going to Broadmoor High. My dad purchased a house in Sherwood Forest less than a half-mile from our former house on Goodwood Boulevard and lived there until we arrived at the end of the school year.
When I arrived at our new house I spent about an hour checking it out and then, bored, thought I’d walk up Goodwood to Broadmoor High. I had walked the half-mile to our former house on Goodwood on the way to the school. As I was walking I looked toward my old house on my left and it struck me like a ton of bricks: “I’m going to graduate with my high school class!”
I froze in my tracks, I literally could not move, I started shaking as chills ran throughout my body. It was not until that very moment that I vividly remembered the prayer I’d prayed for three straight nights when moving to Akron: “Jesus, if you’re real you’ll let me graduate with my high school class and I’ll be OK with this move.” My next thought was, “Oh my Jesus you’re real how can this be … ” Soon my mind was overfilled with emotion and wonder as I simply stood in the middle of the boulevard chilled and shaking in 90+ degree heat while tears streamed down my face. It was at this moment Jesus proved to me he was real, no doubt about it!
I tried to continue the walk but was too overwhelmed with emotion so I returned home and went immediately into my room. I stayed there until well past dinner, crying and wondering what was happening and how I could find this Jesus who I now knew to be real. I’ll save that for another day, but have one postscript.
While I told all my friends and anyone who would like to listen the account I’ve just given, I didn’t tell most of my family and still haven’t some 40 years later. I did tell my dad a few years after my mother passed away when he was curious about what happened that made me seek Jesus. Upon hearing the story he cried out in a wail that was sincere, “Oh Philip, why didn’t you tell me when that happened? It would have allowed me to process better all that was happening in my life at that time. If I’d only known you were the reason we moved and not me … ” Be careful what you pray for as you just might get it and unintended consequences as well.
About Philip: Philip Zimmerman is founder of Engineering Leadership a professional coaching company artfully bridging meaning, purpose and calling in people and organizations. His life pursuit is continually gaining in the knowledge of Christ.