There I was, alone in my tiny residence room, crying at 3am. Things like this just did not happen to me! I’m an educated, modern, rational person! How did my life come to this?
I grew up without any religious knowledge or experience. I adopted an atheist attitude, mostly because my friends were atheists. I wasn’t really sure of my own opinion on the existence of God though, and honestly, I didn’t care.
While earning my Computer Science degree at university, I felt that something was missing in my life: I was depressed, and I knew that I had felt this way for a long time. I had made some new friends recently and religion was a large part of their lives. I figured I should try to understand it better. So I decided to investigate religion (and God) seriously for the first time. I examined various ‘popular’ religions to see if any of them were credible. I wanted a faith that is true, not just something that made me feel good.
I learned about Buddha (Buddhism), Muhammad (Islam), Jesus (Christianity), and others. When I read the story of Jesus, it seemed compelling in a way that other faiths weren’t.
That’s nice, but is it true?
But “blind faith” is not for me. I began to carefully evaluate the Christian faith. I bought myself a Bible and started to read, but questioned its historical reliability. If this book were true it would be the “greatest story ever told.” If not, it’d be no better than J.R.R Tolkien’s or Douglas Adams’ works: fine fiction, but in no sense “holy”!
Soon afterwards I read The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, a Yale Law School graduate and former legal editor for the Chicago Tribune. The book examines tough questions about the Bible by interviewing leading scholars. I learned that there are good reasons to believing the Bible is reliable! My later reading has confirmed that the New Testament’s reliability is unparalleled compared to all other documents from its time. The new knowledge I was finding made me struggle. If I started following Jesus, I’d have to make some big life changes.
Expression of a deep inner need
I had intellectually accepted Jesus, but I had not accepted his truth in my heart. It’s one thing to say “yes” in my head, but quite another thing to decide to change my life. Plus, I’d have to admit I’d been wrong for the first 20+ years of my life!
Eventually I attended an on-campus church service. The pastor talked about having a “wow moment” with God, an experience where God feels really present, where God “comes near.” I thought perhaps lacking an experience like that was stopping me from real faith. Although I had already, in a way, rationally accepted Christianity, I couldn’t get past my emotional barriers. That same night, I prayed for God to make himself known to me in some way.
Birds in the snow
The next night I was up late and I picked up my Bible to read a bit. My Bible included some extra stories to help things, and the story that I read involved a lonely farmer.
One cold winter night, the farmer heard a thumping sound against his windows, and looked outside to see tiny sparrows beating against the glass, attracted to the warmth of the house. Feeling mercy on the birds, the farmer opened the doors of his barn, and tried many tactics to get the birds inside. He tried coaxing them, chasing them, putting down a trail of crackers … but nothing worked. Disheartened, the farmer went back inside, and thought to himself “If only I could become a bird, one of them … I wouldn’t frighten them. And I could show them the way to warmth and safety.” At that moment, the farmer realized the reason that Jesus was born.
When I read this story this time, it was different than when I read it before. I felt emotion welling up inside of me, and by the time I’d read the last sentence, I was crying. Not tears of pain, but tears of profound joy.
Remember, I’m not someone who goes around sobbing all the time! But here I was, alone in my room at 3am, crying! I remembered my prayer from the previous night, and thought: Is God really speaking to me this way? My emotional barrier was finally broken. During that time, I finally made a decision to change my life. I said “yes” to Jesus.
I said “yes” that I believe that God sent his son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for my sins – every time I’ve lied, cheated, and lived a selfish life. I believe that Jesus rose from the dead and is my savior. I’ve accepted his forgiveness and I want to have a relationship with God and eternal life that can only be found through Christ alone.
I have sometimes struggled with questions about my faith since then, but I haven’t doubted that something powerful has happened. Not everyone will have an experience like this, and my decision wasn’t based only on this emotional experience. This event just helped make my faith sufficient to overcome my fear.
God doesn’t work on our timetable, but his promises to us always come true. One of those promises is that if you honestly seek him, you will find him. I asked God to come near, and he did. In fact, God came nearer than anyone ever expected. He came to us in person, in Jesus.
God wants to be our leverage in living, empowering us to feel better about ourselves, more excited about our future, more grateful for those we love and more enthusiastic about our faith.
If you are looking for a solution to the chaos of life, ask God to be the leverage you need in being more confident in who you are, more in tune with those you love, and more effective in your marketplace. Why not pray this simple prayer and by faith invite Him to fill you with His Spirit:
Dear Father, I need you. I acknowledge that I have sinned against you by directing my own life. I thank you that You have forgiven my sins through Christ’s death on the cross for me. I now invite Christ to again take His place on the throne of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as You commanded me to be filled, and as You promised in Your word that You would do if I asked in faith. I pray this in the name of Jesus. As an expression of my faith, I thank You for directing my life and for filling me with the Holy Spirit. Amen.