Jesus Did It!
I SAW JESUS BUT FELT SO UNWORTHY!
By: Denny Tanis
If you would like to watch this testimony on video, you can click on the following links: Part 1 Part 2
I had an amazing encounter with Jesus Christ, and I would like to take this occasion to thank God publicly for it, that He somehow might be glorified by it. This amazing encounter was life-changing for me, which had to be the primary reason why God allowed it to even happen.
The experience I had is not a typical one most Christians experience, so I realize there may be those who may be a bit skeptical of what I’ll be sharing. All I can say to those who may have a difficult time believing this really happened is that those who know me personally know I don’t lie. Being honest has always been something I’ve respected in others. I don’t like being lied to; so others have every right to feel the same about me, the way I see it.
A little background first before I share about this encounter with Jesus I had. I was raised by two wonderful Christian parents who took me to church frequently when I was younger. However, when I got into my late teens, I hung around with the party crowd much too often, and grew to enjoy drinking and partying much more than I enjoyed going to church. I knew being a committed Christian was the right thing to do, but I enjoyed sinning more than I enjoyed striving to keep sin out of my life, sad to say.
I won’t spend much time sharing about all the wild and crazy things I got wrapped up in while I rebelled against God. Bar fights - driving crazy while drinking … it was only by the grace of God that I’m even alive today. I really didn’t have Christ in my life and I seldom if ever prayed. I was a very unhappy person most of the time, except when I was high on something.
In my second marriage, my wife, Sue, and I drank a lot on the weekends. I didn’t drink during the week, because I’ve always taken great pride in my work, and didn’t want alcohol to affect my work performance. We thought we were happy, but we really weren’t when we would be honest with ourselves.
When our daughter, Nicole, was born, I felt that was the second best thing I had ever done right up to that point in my life; marrying Sue was the first of course. When the nurse informed us that Nicole was born with a birth defect, it really didn’t stun me much. Nothing else ever seemed to go right in my life -- why should Nicole be born healthy, I pretty much concluded.
To correct the birth defect, we all spent a great deal of time in the hospital. Between Sue being at the hospital for days on end, while two children at home needed to be raised and I had to work some crazy hours, there was additional stress put on our family. In my mind, God was some supernatural person way far away, somewhere up in the heavens, and for certain, He sure didn’t care about me. During that time, I remember praying twice to Him. One prayer was the “Why - God – Why?” prayer. “Why is all this stuff happening to me, God?” The other prayer was my telling God that I would just rather He take Nicole to heaven rather than allowing me to get too attached to her, then letting her die and suffering so much pain in our loss.
Nicole eventually did get better by about age two, and we were so thankful for it. And it was really through her that God got Sue and I back to church. I was at a friend’s house, and his little girl started singing, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him below, they are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me …” I recognized that song right off the bat because I had learned it in church when I was a child. Nicole was standing right next to me, and she was staring at this other girl singing, not having a clue who Jesus was, so how could she even believe He loved her. Nicole loved to sing, but she couldn’t sing that song, because we had never taken her to church.
Sue and I had been talking about going to church off and on before that, but just never managed to follow through with it, but suddenly it was this little episode that caused us to start going to church. However, even though I was in church again, I was still very distant with God. I wasn’t totally cold, but I sure wasn’t hot either. And it was in this fractured spiritual state of mind that my encounter with Jesus happened. I call it a "major-kick-in-the-seat-of-the-pants-from-God- encounter.”
It was in October, 1991. I was deer hunting with my brother-in-law, Steve. We were staying in a little cabin a few miles east of Cadillac, Michigan. We had gone up there hunting for years together. That night was like any other. I went to bed around 10 p.m. I was lying in bed … half in prayer and half in this thinking stage. You pray a little while, then you think about what you are going to do the next day hunting - type frame of mind. At that time of my life, that was very typical of my prayer life … very mechanical; no passion; no intimacy; no realism to it. Just doing it because it was the proper “religious” thing to do I guess is the best way to say it.
Suddenly I began to see what looked like footprints in the snow going by my head, like on a newsreel. At first I thought it a little strange, but then took it as though I was probably going into a dream. But as I concentrated my focus on the footprints, they seemed to be billowy, more like clouds than snow.
The footprints kept coming by at a steady pace, and then I looked ahead of the footprints, to see if I could speed this up … to see who was making the footprints. Then I saw feet … and there was a white, flowing garment or robe going up from the feet. In front of the feet there were no footprints, so I knew it was these feet making the footprints I had been seeing.
Then I concentrated my focus ahead of the feet to see which direction this person was going, and shortly thereafter I saw a light come out of the corner of the ceiling of the cabin. The light grew quickly in intensity and soon exploded into glistening brilliance, fully engulfing the whole room. This is very hard to explain -- there was like music that accompanied this radiant brilliance, but it was like I wasn’t really hearing the music, but rather feeling the music. Also in this brilliant bluish-white light was a love that was totally indescribable. A love you can’t find words to describe -- impossible to describe in fact, other than you just never want to leave that indescribably awesome and total love ever again.
We had a fire place in the cabin, and I remember thinking very briefly while fully immersed in this encounter, that while the fire in the fireplace is going, if we didn’t leave a window open just a little, a person could possibly be overcome by smoke buildup, and I was thinking that evidently we had forgotten to crack open a window and I was either dying, or actually had died, do to smoke inhalation.
My wife and my children mean the whole world to me, but I never gave them a thought the whole while this was happening. My only thought was this is death, and this is really cool, because I want to stay in this light and presence of love forever. It warmed my face; it warmed my entire body. I could feel it all over me. There was something about it that you just couldn’t turn away from.
At one point I looked at my feet at the end of my bed, and I thought: Well … I can’t be dead if I can see my feet and the end of the bed. I couldn’t figure out - I was trying to rationalize – make some logical sense out of what was happening to me.
Next I saw those same feet that were making the footprints in the snow … I saw them descending from the ceiling of the cabin. They descended slowly but steadily; then I saw the robe ... and at this point every hair on my body was standing straight out! I was electrified. I instantly knew Who it was as well. I wasn’t religious at all prior to this so I didn’t know Jesus, but I surely knew Who this was I was looking at. It was Jesus.
He kept coming down out of the ceiling, and I was fully captivated – mesmerized - watching Him. What was striking was that although it was just a very small room I was in at the cabin, it seemed like now it was an immeasurable distance. It was like I wasn’t even in that room anymore and maybe I even wasn’t. Soon I saw His shoulders come down through the ceiling, and then His head. His hair was thick – golden – reminding me almost like a lion’s mane. But once His face was clear to see, I couldn’t look at it, but had to turn away. (That still kind of bothers me). I felt dirty; I just didn’t feel worthy enough to look at Him. The way I had led my life just came into my sudden, full remembrance. This too is so difficult to describe, yet a sense of just how unworthy I was to be in His presence began to sicken me.
I don’t remember exactly how much time went by, by while I was looking away from His face … I told Him I loved Him, and I asked Him to forgive me. I did both of those things three times. I remember that distinctly.
When I finished saying that - I knew this wasn’t just a dream, because I had tears - I could feel everything that was going on … and after saying what I said to Him … I was suddenly relieved from something. I felt much different. I was just suddenly released from so much pain - hurt - I had known up to that point. It seemed like those painful things of the past just didn’t matter now.
I then willingly looked back to see His face, but I couldn’t see it. It was in the same location it had been when I turned my face away, but I couldn’t see it. I don’t know what would have happened had I not turned my face away ... if He would have allowed me to see His face or not. All I know is that I just couldn’t see it now, though I tried.
It doesn’t matter to me now, because what I experienced was just so unbelievably wonderful that I don’t know how it could have ended much better, other than being allowed to stay in His presence for all eternity. Besides, I know I’ll be able to see His face one day, so I can wait patiently for that time to come. And – I’m going to thank Him personally for what He did for me!
While still in His presence, I noticed His hands were at His side, with His palms facing me. I wasn’t able to see any nail scars in them, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t there. He didn’t audibly tell me He loved me and forgave me, but it was just understood. I had a full-well knowing he both loved me and forgave me for my past wrongs. And I also had the knowing that if I would just give everything in me to Him, I would be safe – I’d be saved.
The encounter was just about to end, and I noticed His robe wasn’t made of cloth like yours or mine would be. It was part of the light -- it was the brightest intensity of the light. It appeared to me that He was separated by different levels of light if this makes much sense. Like – He WAS light … yet He was layers of light as well. Words just aren’t adequate to try to explain what I saw. And as much as He was light, He also WAS love. He didn’t just radiate the place with love – I just knew that He was the very source of love. The very essence of love. If someone had asked me at that moment if I could feel His love, I would have said, “Much more than THAT! I feel it so strongly I can SEE it! I am LOOKING at love!”
Shortly after that he went back up into the ceiling like He had come: light, love and all. Then it got dark like before, and cold like before, but everything stayed with me like I had felt in His presence … except for the feeling of warmth from the light.
At first I felt bad because He had left me, but then I thought … Well – you know ... how many people get an experience like this from God?!
Then reality returned. I heard the crackling of the fire … and it just like blew me back into the bed of what had just happened to me. I lay there, looking up at the ceiling … thinking … Wow! Why did He do this for me?
But this much I knew. Jesus forgave me. I was saved! I was spiritually born again! I was now in love with Jesus, and nothing would ever stand in my way of living the rest of my life trying to please Him. I owe Him. Oh how I owe Him for doing what He did, when He didn’t have to at all.
Well … let me tell you my prayer life intensified about 100% at that moment! I spent the rest of that night, and all that next day, praising God. See … praising God was totally new to me. I had never done that before. Why – I would go months and months without even mentioning His name, so praising Him? No way!
Part of that next day I just stood around with my mouth hanging open. (Obviously not hunting). Beyond praising and praying, I didn’t know what else to do, yet I wanted to do something more to please Him. I just didn’t know what else there was I could do. I cried, I laughed; I kept thanking Him over and over. At one point during that day while praying to Him, I asked Him what else I could do for Him. He answered me. I know He answered me. As quickly as I asked, I had this sudden knowing that I was to share this testimony with others when the opportunity presented itself, which I have.
I need to make it succinctly clear that I did absolutely nothing that warranted Him giving me that visitation that night. I need to repeat: I did absolutely nothing. He just simply chose to do what He did, and what can I say about it but what I am simply one of the most blessed people on this planet while I’m alive down here.
I know so many people would love to have an encounter like I had, but forever whatever reasons known to God, most don’t get to have one. Most have to walk with God totally by faith in God and from the Holy Scriptures of the Bible. Sure – now I have to do that as well, and as the years have gone by since that encounter happened, many trials have visited me, and sometimes that encounter seems as though it almost happened to another person instead of me. Yet it did happen to me. I can’t deny it didn’t.
I want to comfort anyone who might be reading this, maybe struggling a little with envy. Recorded for us in the Bible is the account where one of Jesus’ disciples – Thomas - simply refused to believe that others had spoken with Jesus after His resurrection.
Then this happened:
And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!”
Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” -- John 20:26-29 NKJV
I consider myself to be a very blessed individual, but from reading this scripture, the greater blessing will come for those who by faith believe and don’t need to see. Faith to believe what? Faith to believe that God is not only real, but that through Jesus Christ, all sin is forgiven to the one who asks for His forgiveness, and all love beyond human comprehension will one day be fully realized forevermore for asking for that forgiveness, and continuing to rest in the assurance of it … because of His sacrifice on the cross of taking your and my punishment for our sins, when He didn’t have to.
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"And this gospel of the
died for sinners] shall be preached in all the world for a witness
unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
(Quote from Jesus Himself: Matthew 24:14).
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