My name is Zak. I’ve always been a weird kid, and this story proves it… I’ve never really gotten along with religion, although I have tons of what some people call “faith” and a brain to think with. This was about to become one of the most important days of my life, and I hope this story, my story can help anyone out there who needs it. I hope you think I’m crazy, that you’re maybe a bit bewildered and confused, but most of all, I hope this story gives you a “eureka!” moment.
I vividly recall a morning when I was urged vehemently to get ready for church. More specifically a Sunday morning, and I was being urged to get ready, again more specifically, for Mass. On this particular morning in 1989, I had a strong desire to continue playing Super Mario Brothers, on my Nintendo Entertainment System. Along the usual exhortations that normally accompanied the ritual of preparing a six-year-old boy for a task he had extremely little desire to complete, my uncle said this to me,
“Why don’t you do want to get ready for church?”
To which I replied, “Because I’d rather be playing Nintendo.” Much to my uncle’s chagrin, and very much in line with his rather stubborn nature, he continued to debate me.
“Well, you know why we go to church don’t you? It’s to spend time with God… don’t you want to spend time with God?”
Taking a moment to consider his argument, or rather his ill thought out question, I replied with the following,
“Uncle, is it not true that God is everywhere? And that God loves all people as they are?
“Yes.”, he replied
I replied, thoughtfully, if not somewhat arrogantlly: “Well Uncle, if God is everywhere and is indeed in all things, and if he also loves all people as they are… I’m guessing two things are true: one, God doesn’t care when I dress like, and two, if God is everywhere, and in everything… then even while sitting here playing Nintendo, I’m also spending time with God.
“Am I wrong Uncle?”
“No.” He replied with a great disappointment in his voice.
“Then, can you explain to me what is it about God that would make him want me to go to church just to spend time with Him?” “Or can you tell me anything about God that would help me understand why this is so important?”
Having little else in the way of ammunition, my uncle went with the tried and true tactic of “because I said so.” At which time, I begrudgingly got ready for church, and sat through what seems to be the longest damned hour I have ever sat through in my life.
Now this is where the real fun begins! Later that night, I was about to fall asleep… I felt myself being lifted up, and had an odd sensation of warmth that seem to flow throughout my entire being. I think I was mostly unconscious during the lifting a part, but when I came to, that is, when I regained consciousness I was somewhere I never imagined I would be. I was literally, in heaven. I was standing on what seemed to be… clouds, but they weren’t really clouds. It kind of reminded me, of those dry ice machines you see in haunted houses because like still feel the floor beneath me. Whatever it was made of, I don’t really know.
The only thing that was really there, with an empty throne and some Greco-Roman looking columns. Like the kind you see on old reruns of Jason and the Argonauts. Just as I was about to try to go back down to my bed, a bright, all-consuming light began to emanate from the throne. And when the light had dissipated, God sat on the throne before me. I instinctively dropped to one knee, and bowed my head before the Creator. And he said to me:
“Come now child, there is no need to bow, we have known each other from the beginning.”
Still bewildered, “why am I here?” I asked.
He replied to me and the calmest voice I have ever heard, like that of a patient sage, waiting for his student to ask the right question, “You my son… have asked a very complicated question. It is a question that you have received yet no satisfactory answer. The answers you have been given, while sufficient for most children your age has not quelled the fire that burns within. So, my child, ask your question, and I will give you the answer you seek.”
Dude! Seriously? God, the Creator of all things, was going to answer a question… any question I asked him… anything! But, what question do I ask? Oh wait! I hope he didn’t do that… Ha ha ha! That would suck. Needless to say, I was in way still am kind of dumbfounded. As I began to wonder what question I should ask, a thousand possibilities were rushing through my mind. Should I ask the tried and true, what is the meaning of life? Should I ask him to tell me everything that will ever happen to me? Suddenly, the question dawned on me, perfectly stated:
“Lord God, I’ve been taught that all of humanity is supposed to believe you, because there is only one God. So, if there is only one God, why do we have so many different religions? Why is there Buddhism? Islam? The innumerable branches of Christianity? Hinduism? Some of these religions say there are many gods, but I know there is only one. So tell me, Lord God, if we are all supposed to believe in you, why are there so many different religions in the world? And why do we all fight?”
Carefully considering the long question, or rather many questions I had posted him, he responded authoritatively with the following:
“My dear child, you could have asked me anything. You could’ve asked me about your future, about the meaning of life, about the loves that will come in and out of your existence, of your past lives… instead you have chosen to ask the question that is important not only for you, but for all of humanity. And because you have asked, as promised, I will answer.”
“There are many cultures on the great planet of Earth, and with each culture and people, understanding of the world around them, and of me differs from place to place. So, I appear to people as they need to see me in order for them to learn, that which they need to know. To some, I am Brahman, Vishnu, and Shiva. To others still, I am simply the God Elohim, to some I came as the Buddha said that they might learn peace in the middle way. You see me here today, as the risen Christ, because that is how you perceive me. I have many different faces, yet I am one God.
As he spoke those words, I saw before me images of many people from around the world, praying according to their various customs. I could feel the intense love, anguish, desire, need, devotion, and floods of many other emotions that I could not, nor even today can I articulate now. When the flood of images had ceased, he said to me:
“if you remember nothing else, remember this: religion begins in divinity, and is corrupted by men. This is why the people of the world fight, each man holds on to his steadfast view, making no room for understanding or compassion. Remember what I’ve said to you this day, and spread this message throughout the world.”
I told you it was important, didn’t I.? Like I said before, it changed my life forever, and in at least some small way, I hope it changes yours too.