The man who found God in the desert

Billy Graham used to tell a story about when he was holding a crusade in a certain city and had a letter he wanted to mail. But he didn’t know where the post office was, so he asked a boy walking by if he could tell him where the post office was.

The little guy told him how to get there, and Billy thanked him and said, “I’m preaching here tonight, and I’m going to tell people how to get to Heaven. I would like you to come tonight and hear me preach.”

“Well, I don’t think I’m going to come,” said the boy. “You don’t even know the way to the post office. How can you tell me how to get to Heaven?”

The Bible, the user’s manual of life, tells us exactly what we need to do to get to Heaven.

For instance, if you called me and needed directions somewhere, my first question to you would be, “Where are you?” Before I can tell you how to get somewhere, I need to know where you are.

God asked that very question of Adam in the Garden of Eden after he ate the forbidden fruit and sin entered the world. Adam was hiding. And when the Lord came walking through the garden in the cool of the day, he said, “Adam, where are you?”

Of course, God was aware of Adam’s whereabouts. What he really was saying was this: “Well, Adam, you ate the forbidden fruit. How did that go? Are you happy with the way things turned out?

I think the Lord could ask the same question of us today. Where are you? How is your life going? Are you happy with how things have turned out? Are you wondering if you’ve missed the whole point of what life is all about?

Even the most beautiful, famous and wealthy people eventually have to face their own mortality. The Bible tells the story of a man who was very successful and had everything this world has to offer. He had money, power and fame. He even had religion. On the outside he looked like he had it together, but he didn’t. He was empty on the inside. And he was searching.

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He was a government official in charge of the treasury of Ethiopia, which was a powerful kingdom at the time. But he wasn’t finding what he was looking for in the religion of his culture. He had heard about the city of Jerusalem, the home of the Jewish people – the people who had a relationship with God.

So he went to Jerusalem searching for God, but he didn’t find God in Jerusalem. Sadly, the Judaism of that day had become a lot of rituals and regulations, and he didn’t find what he was looking for. But he did obtain a copy of some Scripture, basically a hand-lettered scroll of Isaiah, which is now one of the books of the Old Testament

Meanwhile, God directed a man named Philip to hang out in the desert and wait for him. So as this government official rode through the desert, reading out loud from Isaiah 53, Philip ran to him and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” (Acts 8:30 NKJV).

He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” (verse 31 NKJV).

The he invited Philip to sit with him in his chariot. And beginning from that Scripture, the Bible says that Philip told him the good news about Jesus.

This man knew the Bible was important, just as a lot of people do today. But sometimes they don’t know what to make of it. They need someone to show them the way, and that is exactly what Philip did. He told him how to have a relationship with God. So this Ethiopian official believed in Jesus and was even baptized that day.

Becoming a Christian doesn’t take years. It doesn’t take months. It doesn’t even take hours. It can happen in just moments, just like it did for this man. And the Bible tells us that he went on his way rejoicing.

Religion didn’t do that for him. In fact, religion disappointed him.

Maybe you’ve looked at Christians and thought, “These Christians are very weak people. They’re kind of losers. And this whole thing they’re into, this Christianity, is just a big crutch.”

But Christianity isn’t about religion; it’s about a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. And by the way, Christianity isn’t a crutch; it’s an entire hospital, and I need all the help I can get.

I used to have a tough exterior, due in part to the way I was raised by my alcoholic mother. When I was 17, I felt as though I were 70, because I had seen things no young man should ever see. So I had a tough façade, and I would hang around in Newport Beach and lean against a wall, trying to look cool.

The Christians would come down to where I hung out, and they would hand out their little booklets. Most of the time they bought my tough-guy act and walked on. But sometimes they gave me their booklets to read, and I’d grab them and shove them into my pocket like I didn’t care.

But when I went home, I’d take all those booklets from every religious group imaginable and put them in a drawer. And every now and then I’d pull out the drawer and empty it onto my bed. Then, as a 17-year-old kid, I would sit there trying to figure out the meaning of life. I wanted to know the truth. However, like the Ethiopian official, I needed someone to show me the way.

Thankfully, God tells us how we can have a relationship with him.

You can find what you’re searching for and start rejoicing today, just like the man from Ethiopia. But first what you need to do is believe. You need to believe in Jesus Christ. It isn’t religion; it’s a relationship. It isn’t rules and regulations; it’s real freedom from the power of sin.

Whatever it is that you’re facing today, whatever problems or challenges you have, I want you to know that God has a future for you. And that future is in Heaven – if you put your faith in Jesus Christ.

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This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

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