Person to Person Part One
By Fred Pruitt
God is Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect …
Where Do We Come From Seeking Salvation?
Of course the Father was seeking me long before I was seeking Him, but we do not know that when we are starting out, do we? At least I did not.
We all come to Christ in different ways, for different reasons, motivated by different things. What matters is that we come – regardless of how we get there. We cannot reject anyone’s reasons that drew them into Christ, whether we consider them valid or not. They are valid to them. At least at the time.
I did not come because of the fear of dying and going to hell, though I have known plenty others who did come that way. At the time of my final denouement with Jesus, I did not even “believe” in either the devil, the “place” or “state” we call hell, the authority of scripture, or even that Jesus was THE “Way” to God.1
It just happened that as a result of the path He Himself had authored, Jesus came into my heart and made Himself known there in me. (As I came to know later, He is both “author and finisher of our faith.”[Heb 12:2]) At that final juncture on that path, a “leap” into the darkness of the “possibility” of Christ, came out of the desperation that His path had created in me. I “chose” the “leap” because I could not go back. I felt like the bridge back to what was before had been burned. So it was almost a “choice-less” choice, like when we say, “What choice did I have?”
But in the succeeding days, even had I been able to, I could not in “buyer’s remorse” reject that choice, because, as I have said many times before, the scales began to fall from my eyes. I simply began to “see.” And as clearly as anything else was in those earliest of days in Christ in me, the Spirit opened to me the complete cut-off and division between spiritual “light,” and spiritual “darkness.”
In a (then or since) unparalleled inner clarity of vision, the Holy Spirit showed me, in a briefly unveiled Spirit “moment,” how some who I had taken to be the epitome of all I thought might be holy or good, were actually operating (knowingly or unknowingly) in spiritual darkness (Satan), wearing the disguise of “good” – appearing as “angels of light” (2 Cor 11:14). I realized to the depths of my being, how not only had I been “wrong” or “ignorant” about the things of God, but that I had been DECEIVED! That the “goodness” I thought I was living in and seeking, was not “goodness” at all, and neither was I!
When the momentary vision struck me, and it was with force, it put me down on the floor. Figuratively. I was totally undone in that clear revelation – my mind “blew!” I saw, by the Spirit’s revelation out of the Eternal contained in the briefest instant of time, how completely different, of a different quality, of a different purpose, and most importantly, how completely I had come out of a “different spirit.” “If the light in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness ….” (Matt 6:23b).
How clearly I saw it – I had walked around for years as a dead person thinking I was alive (1 Tim 5:6)! Oh, “I” was alive alright. Alive to “myself,” alive to sin, alive to self-seeking. But the subtlety of it, was that I was alive also to my non-existent “own goodness.” I really thought I was a pretty good guy. I thought I was unselfish. I believed in peace and love and practiced it as best as I knew how.
So when the “Christians” came to me talking about receiving Christ and being forgiven of sins and going to heaven and the end times that they said were upon us, it all sounded like absurd foolishness to me – tales for children maybe but not a true “spirituality.” Sure, I knew I wasn’t a “perfect” person. I knew I had faults, that there were things I had done that made me wince, but I didn’t “feel” like the “sinner” which they said I was– I wasn’t “that bad” (in my own mind) – so we were at an impasse. I really didn’t feel the “need” they said Jesus came to meet.
Basically, the “Christianity” these people were espousing had relatively little impact on me. What I mean is, although I could see their conviction, and for some the obvious joy they seemed to have, the individuals themselves mostly were not remarkable to me. They didn’t stir me up in any deep way.
Except for one guy. I think his name was maybe Alex, Russian last name but I don’t remember it. He had been a year behind me in high school. He was one of the many who, like me, had taken on the “freak-hippie” life of the early 70s right out of school. As did many, he went hog-wild into the recreational drugs of the day, with no end in sight to the party. My story, too, for a while.
But then something happened to him. He meta-morphed almost before our eyes. One week we’re seeing him at the regular haunts, doing the regular things, then a while goes by and he suddenly shows up in Piedmont Park with the Jesus Freaks (“Children of God”). One day he just emerges out of their circle of prayer, which concluded with them all breaking the circle, separating and going around through the crowd to witness for Jesus. Looking for targets, as I thought then.
But Alex saw particularly me on the embankment across from the stage. A bunch of us always sat there because it was right across from the front of the free stage, where bands played every Sunday afternoon. It was still in a way the “magical” days in the park. (As heroin and crime grew, the park became less and less fun.) But then, before the “bad” days, it was spring turning into summer. Frisbee tossing. Sunday concerts where you saw all your friends, got a little toasty if you could, enjoyed the breeze, the hippie girls, the gentle lack of busyness. You could walk around away from the crowd, down by the lake. There were great bench swings for two along the lake shore, where Janis and I spent a lot of time together. Couples in rented paddle-boats plodding by. Lucy in the sky with diamonds.
The City of Atlanta built Piedmont Park in the very early 1900s, as a sort of “Central Park” of Atlanta. It has vast acreage, a nine-hole public golf course, botanical gardens, picnic areas, hiking trails, bandstands, and even a public pool, circa 1910 or so, which was still in use in our park days. Gas lamps still from the early 1900s lined the the park’s streets. Most of the buildings were of brown stone and by then many had fallen into disuse and in need of repair.2
When Alex spied me on the bank, he made a beeline for me. I saw him seeing me and knew he was on his way to me. There was something noticeable. He had “light” about him. It wasn’t visual. It was just clear light, accompanied by a very genuine, as it seemed to me even then, love. This guy was CLEARLY different from before. I had liked him before – like me he was a “nice guy.” But this new Alex was not just a “nice guy,” though I told myself later that he was. He was putting out something beyond “nice.” He had moved beyond “nice,” (which most believe is “acting loving by acting positive, cheerful, encouraging, attentive, supportive, empathetic, interested, compassionate, gentle, etc.”), to not “acting,” but simply being just plain outgoing love.
I am certain it was the Holy Spirit who showed me that day, and maybe I see more now, nearly 42 years later than I actually saw then, but it comes to me now that I saw in him no guile. It was love without guile. Love given without an angle, not looking for some “return” to the giver, other than that the outgoing love find its home in the receiver.
Although I could not articulate it then, I realize now that meeting him on the bank in the park that day was the first time I “saw,” with my own eyes (undoubtedly a “freebie” from the Spirit), unadulterated unconditional divine love. Certainly it had been coming to me everyday, but I was blind to it. Still, that day, for a moment, the Spirit opened my eyes to see something I had never seen before and did not even realize existed.
Where did it come from?
End Part One
1All those are “truths” to me now. Not something to “believe in” like a creed, but they are rather now the clear demarcation between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error, the razor’s edge of our daily existence.
2The city has since done a remake of the park, which we have yet to take in.