So how did theChristiandude become a Christian dude?
I would venture to say, that’s a rather interesting story. You see, back in the day I was “that guy”… do you know which guy I’m talking about? You know the guy… intelligent, but what you could relatively call “unwise”? You remember the guy… nice 99% of the time, but if you set him off the verbal attack which ensued went straight for the jugular with little moral compass? It stinks to have to paint that kind of picture of myself, but the learning of humility does that to a person.
We are talking about the the same guy whom, despite being an atheist, didn’t drink alcohol all through high school one time. The guy who, even as he tried to open doors for girls and his elders, and who like Theodore Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver respectfully called his friends parents by Mr. or Mrs. their last names… he also came to insist that “a God” simply and absolutely made no sense, and was for weak and simple-minded “sheeple”.
For whatever reason, God blessed me with what I guess you could call a strong mind. I was in gifted programs throughout elementary school, scored in the top 2 percent in most categories of national high school testing like the C.A.T., and always passed my test’s and classes with good grades and not much effort. Suffice it to say, I’d been told my whole life how smart I was, and that paired with being highly competitive with good athletic ability, helped to breed an air of confidence in most things I thought or had to say. It didn’t help that I had a stubborn dad and older brothers who taught that pride is better than humility, and to fight first rather than back down.
With the psychologically-oriented & secular leanings of so many teachers in public school, along with the “Analytical Thinking” and similar classes I took for years… well, my “analytical mind” decided it made absolutely no sense whatsoever that God existed. It made no cognizant sense in my mind that some dude died on a cross, so now I get to go to heaven *if* I believe he did so for me.
Yes, I was “that guy” who angrily chided and ridiculed anyone who tried to convince me that God might be real, or dismissed those who might try to talk to me about God. I was the guy who angrily responded to his mother, with arms open to the sky, “If God is real, then I challenge Him! I challenge Him RIGHT NOW, strike me with lightning, God! Come on God! DO IT! Oh wait, WHY can’t He strike me with lightning? Oh yeah, because He doesn’t EXIST!” I still can’t believe I did that, and yet, here I sit trying not to be too prideful to tell that particular story.
Yes, I was the guy who verbally attacked my friends who were believers, if I had the perception they were trying to “push their beliefs on me”. I would call them, and any other Christian a Bible-thumper, and insist they “don’t fill my head with that (fill in the blank here)!” I won’t go any further then that, as I hope that paints a vivid enough of a picture of where I was at spiritually. Yes, I am the guy whom had one of his closest friends tell him about 5 years ago, “Dude, dead seriously… if you can become saved, I seriously, seriously believe now that anyone can be saved and become a Christian.”
Well, funny thing happened. When I got to college, all the different mindsets, beliefs, and backgrounds started to plant little seeds in me. I became incredibly intrigued by the New Age movement, especially psychics, astrology, spirits, and the like. Keep in mind that I never drank once in high school, and never once smoke pot or tried any drugs all through college. The New Age mindset, lends itself to being very “experimentally friendly” to “get to know yourself” and “free your mind”, so I started to mess around with psychedelics and marijuana after college. Oh yes, I was feeling so enlightened!
The amazing part of this is that it is the classic case of God having used evil for a good end. Kind of how Judas’ evil act led to the greatest gift in all of history. You see, my stubborn mindset slowly migrated from the insistence that God couldn’t exist, to “Hmmmmm… maybe there’s something.” I didn’t know exactly what “it” was, but I had somehow come to decide that there could definitely be “something”.
I exchanged my atheist belief set, for that of an agnostic. My newfound thought process had become, “Life is a journey and an experience only to be enjoyed! There are no spiritual ramifications or real negativity in the world, only edification, to teach ourselves for our after-life and reincarnation! There is not evil in this world, only lessons to be learned based on the choices we make!” Ironically, the one thing I was still sure however, was that it made no sense that we would go to heaven because some guy died on a cross over 2,000 years ago.
Then, January 15th of the year 2000 and 4 years later, I met a girl. Shortly after that we began dating, she informed me that she was a Christian. So of course I immediately began formulating my master plan, as to how I would convince her that Jesus was at best a prophet, and that it was impossible for Him to be the Son of God. Funny thing happened though. I kept waiting for her to mention something about her beliefs or God or something similarly, so that I could present the brilliant “evidence” and arguments I had gathered over the years, which would undeniably refute any thing of substance she had to say.
In the past, as I perceived others to “push their religion on me”, I would lash out or laugh. With her, it had been a few weeks and still, nothing… it really started bugging me! My thoughts were, “Man, everyone else I’ve ever known gives quotes from the Bible. They try to get me to go to their church. They preach to me. But this girl? She’s going to church every stinking Sunday and won’t even invite me, let alone push like so many others have!” She didn’t push, she didn’t beg, she didn’t plead, she didn’t preach, she didn’t prod. It made me more and more curious and frustrated. “What is this girl trying to hide from me!? How can I refute the ‘nonsense’ her pastor is telling her, if I can’t hear what he’s saying?”
Finally, one night myself, my girlfriend, and her friend, were in my living room hanging out. I don’t remember what we were talking about, but the subject of Sunday came up and their plans of going to church… and it was her friend who said, “Well, why don’t you come with us?” I responded, “Because (my girlfriend) has never asked.” Her response? “Oh. I guess I didn’t think you’d be interested…”
So, for the first time in my life, I went to church by my own decision and of my own volition that following Sunday, albeit not necessarily with the best heart. As we were walking in, she handed me a Bible saying, “Here, I have an extra.” At that point and as I was walking across the parking lot toward the church, I wanted to burst into uncontrollable laughter. I was sooooo stinking uncomfortable. I was in disbelief that I had a Bible in my hand, and was walking into a church. I still vividly remember wanting to burst into nervous, uncontrollable laughter as I walked inside. Seriously, the kind of laughter you would find if someone were to burst into laughter at a funeral. Completely inappropriate, but something that was bouncing around my insides, screaming to be let loose.
The loud music, people dancing, I was in a bit of disbelief. Hadn’t been to a church like this before. Still, the point was why they were here? “For utter nonsense”, I thought. “To feel better about themselves because they’re insufficient”, I thought. “Interesting place, but what a load of garbage!” Then, I got my beginning pieces of ammo to start undermining her beliefs. Her pastor started talking, first by asking for money ( I knew nothing about tithing, and of course found this highly offensive), then about spiritual warfare and Jesus.
When we got into the car, she asked how I liked it. I said it was interesting, and we had a bit of conversation. I explained my belief that there were no real demons and spiritual warfare and such, and that we were here on earth simply for a journey, and that we had lived many lives before this one. A couple days later she broke up with me, and boy, was I mad. I scheduled a meeting with her pastor, and met him face to face, just knowing that I could make him trip over his words. I aggressively asked him questions, and kept asking “Where’s the proof? Where’s the proof?” I kept referencing past actions of “the church”.
I left that room shaking my head and rolling my eye’s, and I’m sure he was doing the same back to me, just shaking his head at this lost punk. All he kept saying to me while holding up his bible was, “It’s all in here. Just read the Word. It’s all in here. If you haven’t read it, I don’t know what to tell ya’. It’s all in here.” I was really annoyed… he was so confident in what he believed, and it made absolutely no stinking sense to me whatsoever. Why and how were he and others so ridiculously confident in what I saw as a fantastical fairy tale?!
Not one to give up without a fight, I wrote my girlfriend a passionate and powerful letter about love conquering all, and challenging her to consider that if she believes in this God of hers, how does she know He didn’t put me in her path for a reason? The $100 Black Hills Gold necklace I bought didn’t hurt either. (Hey, $100 was a lot of money when I was 26!) Very hesitantly on her part, we got back together. My personal belief is that God softened her heart, because knowing me and my mindset at that time in my life, I honestly think if that would have been “it” for her and I, as horrible as it is to say I may have sworn off Christians and Christianity in all facets for a long, long time. The worst I can imagine is my becoming so jaded that my stubborn heels would dig in and I turn from Him forever.
A couple of days later, I met a buddy at the park for a round of “disc golf” at our local course. There were probably 8 or 9 guys in our group. Now, keep in mind this is possibly the largest group I’ve ever played with, and that large number in itself is an anomaly. So, just as we were about to tee off on the very first hole, a funny thing happens… two people come up to me, and hand me a little piece of paper or “mini-flyer” about Jesus, and God. No one else. Just me. It was as if no one else was there. I thought, “Hmph… that was strange”, and then was off on my merry way as I forgot about it, at least until we got to whole number 9. It happens again. Different people. Different church. No one else. Just me. I start looking around, “Is someone playing a joke on me? Do I have a target on my forehead or something?” So, I kept thinking how strange that was during my remaining 9 holes. I finish my last shot on the last hole, and it happens again. Different people, yet again, different church. Now I’m thinking, this is just something too crazy, and unfathomable. Not one of these people so much as looked at anyone else in my group, for any of those 3 instances, yet now I have 3 little mini-flyer’s about Jesus in my pocket, from 3 different churches! It was as if they were specifically targeting me. What in the stinking heck is going on here?
I called my girlfriend and told her what happened. Her response was, “Oh wow… honey, God’s chasing you. He is chasing you…” Something in that resonated with me. My first thought was, “Why would He want me?” She asked if I wanted to go to church that Sunday. I said sure. I decided I *might* try to give this a genuine chance and see if there was anything to it.
The conversations my girlfriend and I had in the days leading up to this service became more interesting and intriguing to me, as she answered questions I asked which for the first time were coming from a genuine place of curiosity. At the end of this service, the pastor basically issued a challenge, asking, “What harm could it do to ask Jesus into your heart?” He asked if there was anyone willing to ask Jesus into their heart, and I thought to myself, “Well, I guess it doesn’t hurt to ask the dude into my heart. Why not?” It was worded so perfectly, that I raised my hand.
You see, the interesting part to this story is that the prior time I had gone to this church, and for the first time that my girlfriend could ever remember, the pastor did not do an altar call that particular service. I can assure you that if I had known that a pastor was going to call me up in front of hundreds of people after raising my hand, it never would have happened that particular Sunday that I spoke to Jesus for the first time. It just seemed that God created a perfect storm for me, to once again become His. I did in fact raise my hand that day, and it will undoubtedly go down as the single most important day in my life on earth.
Even now, life remains a journey and a challenge, but now in a different way and for different reasons. Until you’ve had the real, living, breathing, spirit-filled God literally touch your soul, you simply can not know what I undeniably know now. Until you have heard God so clearly say your name that it was as if someone whispered into your ear, you can not know what I now know. Want proof of God? The proof an atheist is looking for does not exist. In order to have proof of God, you must first put your inkling of faith in Him, that He does in fact exist. You must first, and genuinely, ask Jesus into your heart. If you can do that, then one day, like me, you will know in your heart of heart’s, in your soul of soul’s, that Jesus is our one and only path to heaven, and our friend, Lord, and Savior.
If you have a son, daughter, cousin, friend, or otherwise, who’s walking a similar path as I did (as an atheist or agnostic), then I implore you to give them their space. It will take the right person, the right time, and sometimes like it did with me, a “perfect storm” brought on by God Himself … I’m sure I’d had a number of people praying for me, for a long time.
Speak to them softly, and tread the situation gingerly. Pray a lot, and pray that God will bring someone into their life to bring them back to Him. More likely than not, it will not be you who saves them or restores that connection with Him! The people who pushed me toward Him, only and unfortunately, pushed me away. Just lead by example, and lead with love, not preaching! As smart and intelligent as I gave myself credit for being, I simply could not wrap my mind around Jesus and what He did for us, until that day I allowed myself to be open to Him. You will not talk a nonbeliever into believing! They must be invited, and they must accept.
In fact, when I became a Christian, my own brother screamed at me, and told me I’d changed for the worse. He couldn’t believe that I had become a “Bible thumping blankety-blank“. For me, God knew it would take a woman to ease me to Him. So I prayed for the same for my brother. Guess what? He is now a Christian, after having met a sweet Christian woman whom he married around 8 years ago. He still goes to church and they recently had their fourth child… who arrived into the world with two others when they had triplets! Is God good, or what?
Please understand I write this paragraph in hopes of encouraging and helping you, due to my own experience. I understand there will always be exceptions, but generally speaking when a person is atheist or agnostic, the Bible means nothing to them (other than being a historical document), and can not be used in argument for the existence of God. I know by experience that when you quote the Bible to an atheist or agnostic, one of a few things will happen… they will laugh at you, roll their eye’s, or get angry.
When you are not a Believer, Jesus is a fantastical tale, and little else. Born-and-raised believers can’t relate to this. They don’t know what it’s like to not believe, or not know God. Even my friends who were raised as and considered themselves to be Christian, and who went through “party phases” in their life, knew it was simply a season and that one day they would be back with and closer to God.
Most atheist’s do not become Christians because the words of their parents or loved one’s finally “sunk in”, or because they were so aggressively preached at. I encourage and remind every believer to be discerning when dealing with a non-believer, as certain people and certain situations are called on to be treaded more lightly and with a gentle Spirit. How painful would it be to get to heaven and be told by God, “Faithful son/daughter, your passion and faith was a light to the world you were in. But your discernment was severely lacking at times, as you helped to push some of My prodigal children further away from Me.” I know that is a powerful and unpleasant statement, but still, it is offered to provoke thought and consideration on the matter.
Especially because of my path, I am passionate about Relationship with Him, over and above religiosity or condemnation. Evangelizing and sharing the Word is wonderful and blesses many upon many as we are called upon to spread the Word, but to preach condemnation or fire and brimstone to unwanting listeners is not helping them get closer to God. Some people have a calling to get fellow believers completely submersed and immersed in the Bible and God, challenging them to stop being “baby Christians” or similarly. I praise them, and lift them up so that God may bless those efforts and ministries! My personal heart however, is related to my own journey. I deeply desire for the unbelieving to receive the amazing gift of a relationship with Him, that will undoubtedly change their life forever! (Both here on earth, and eternally!)
I am so thankful to have met this amazing, wonderful, forgiving, kind, loving Creator that goes by the name of God (or Jehovah, or Yahweh, etc). Regardless of what you call him, I am so thankful for my heavenly Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as He has humbled me throughout my years of knowing Him. I encourage anyone whom has taken a moment of time to read my testimony, that if you haven’t yet done so, just ask Jesus to come into your heart. Just ask! You too, are invited!
No matter what you’ve done, or how you perceive yourself, God wants your relationship with Him restored! None of us deserve His mercy, which He has so graciously extended to us in His one and only Son. Remember, there is no level of acts or actions which can magically grant you access to heaven! It is by faith alone. That may sound unreasonable or unfathomable, and in a way it is. However, “It’s all in here!” The only way you can ever properly understand it is to first invite Jesus into your heart, and then read a study Bible to let His word sink in to your heart.
Until you ask Jesus to come into your heart, with a true desire to turn away from sin in your life to the best of your abilities, you will not feel the incredible warmth and purity that literally and verily touches your soul at its core. Our God is a powerful God, but He is not a forceful One… He will always allow the choice to be yours, but it is an open invitation if you are sincere!
So, that is my story. Sometimes I wish it was different and that I had never been a non-Believer, but, “it is what it is”. Regardless of my path I am now His again, and ask that you remember that the same can be said for you! My life is good, as I’ve been blessed with a wonderful and amazing son, a gorgeous baby daughter, a beautiful wife whom it seems was made specifically for me, I have my heavenly Father who loves me, and I’ve been humbled and learned so much… I am BLESSED. Good luck on your own journey, and GOD BLESS YOU!