On a cold winter’s night


It was three o’clock in the morning and a bitter, January wind was blowing hard off a frozen Lake Michigan. No one should have been out at this time in this weather, but I was. I was bundled up against the elements because I couldn’t stay in my room any longer. It was the end of the first semester of my senior year in college, and I was cramming for a final in my major field of sociology. I was not ready. I had whole books yet to read to be ready for this test. So much had been unraveling in my life since the beginning of that school year that I had not been able to keep up with my work. This was so unlike me. A lot of what had been happening was unlike me, or at least the me I thought I was. So in my room, with so much yet to do, and the caffeine from multiple cups of coffee in my veins, and the dreaded test in five hours, the pages in my books had suddenly all gone blank. Blank. I opened one book, then another, and another, and there was no writing on any of the pages. In a panic, I realized I was losing my grip on reality. So I threw on my coat, and went outside for a walk around the football field, and in the middle of that walk I cried out to God, “God, I really need you to do something right now. So much of what I’ve relied upon up until now is slipping away, and now I fear I am losing my mind. All those other times I cried out to you, forget them. This is it. This is the big one. I need you to hear me this time. I’m not sure of anything anymore — you included. If you are really there, I need you to be real to me. Please, somehow, make yourself real to me.”

If Jesus hadn’t been born, nothing would have happened. The Holy Spirit would not have come and whispered peace into my life as He did then, because the Holy Spirit would not have been moving in the world, especially with pagans liked me. I would not have had the undeniable experience with God that I had that night; I would not have had the assurance that He heard my prayer. It was a supernatural invasion of the Holy Spirit brought on by Jesus. But if Jesus hadn’t been born, it wouldn’t have happened.

Think about it. If Jesus hadn’t been born the Catch would not exist. We wouldn’t know you; you wouldn’t knows us. There would be no Prayer Warriors praying. No one to give counsel to, and no one to do the counseling. No boots on the ground in 141 countries. There would be no church — no reason to come together — no one to come together over. There would be no fellowship. Friendship, yes, but no fellowship in the Holy Spirit.

None of the songs or books I’ve written since that dynamic experience on a cold winter walk would exist because they have all been, in one way or another, about Jesus, and inspired by Jesus. I wouldn’t have married Marti because we met over Jesus. The people Marti led to the Lord while she was a flight attendant would still be lost in their sins because Jesus would not have died to forgive them.

And you know what? Here’s the biggest one of all: No one would care. The meaning behind everything would be gone. There would be nothing driving us on beside self-preservation. No reason to care for anyone else.

If Jesus hadn’t been born, I would have called, but there would have been no one there.

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9 Responses to On a cold winter’s night

  1. Sandie says:

    “A broken and contrite heart you will not despise.” God always hears us, but He cannot/will not respond until we are stripped bare; at the end of our rope…and are honest about it.
    “You can’t bring a cup of cold water to someone if you’ve never thirsted. You can’t heal a heart unless your heart has been broken.”
    Jesus broke your heart that night and you allowed it to happen. And out of it was born all of your ministry and relationships…starting with your relationship with Jesus.
    I thank God for your influence in my life, and I thank you for allowing yourself to be a vessel…a broken pot put back together by the Holy Spirit.

  2. Mark D Seguin says:

    I had a few tears rolling down my cheeks while reading about your experience Pastor John only to whip them dry to have a few more after reading my Catch buddy, Carole O testimonial.

    Both of those stories moved me to tears and made me so happy & grateful Jesus was indeed born!

  3. Mark D Seguin says:

    By the way Pastor John how did u do on you do on that final exam?

    • jwfisch says:

      I passed it. No flying colors, but at least I passed. The point was, after that encounter, it didn’t matter. I knew that whatever happened, everything was going to be okay because I was okay.

  4. Victor Wilkins says:

    If Jesus hadn’t been born, I probably wouldn’t be alive today. I reached the lowest point of my life in the mid-90’s following a divorce. It probably sounds like a cliché, but I turned to drugs in the misguided hope of easing the pain. A couple years in, I overdosed for the last time. I subsequently prayed for direction and a return to my children. Two days later I made the most important phone call and entered rehab shortly thereafter. Renewing my relationship with my children was the greatest reward, but the ultimate was renewing my relationship with Jesus Christ. Without Him, this opportunity would never have existed.

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