I was raised in a church-going family. However, religion to me was Sunday morning at church only and it was never brought home. My parents also let their children be rather autonomous. So at age twelve, I decided that church was not for me and I opted out from going on Sundays.
I attended public schools in a small northwest college town and excelled in math and science. I learned the laws of physics and the theory of evolution. Everything on earth and in the heavens could be explained by science. The more education I received, a BS and MS in engineering, the more clear it was to me that life was an amazing coincidence. Through chemical reactions and natural selection this diverse and intertwined world had evolved and was continuing to evolve. I believed that God was invented by man to provide explanations for the unexplainable – but through science, all could be explained.
I believed that Jesus Christ was an important historical figure who had many great things to say. The miracles that were attributed to him could be explained through the modern sciences. For example, at the site of the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus recognized that people were hoarding food. Through his prompting, many in the crowd shared what they had brought, thus providing sufficient provisions for all with food left over. Other miracles had similar explanations or were merely analogies or metaphors.
Although science provided all the answers, I could sense that there was something missing in my life. In my mid-twenties, I got married. My wife believed in God, but her faith was not a significant part of her life. We spent our weekends together. Attending church was not necessary. When our children came along, grew and started asking questions, such as “who is this Jesus guy,” my wife decided that our children should learn about God and Jesus. She began to regularly go to church on Sundays, and I played golf. It wasn’t long before my wife accepted Jesus as her Lord and savior and her life was changed forever. I continued to play golf on Sundays.
This dichotomous relationship continued into our forties. My wife would take Bible study classes and I would stay at work long hours and play golf on the weekends. We were drifting apart. One summer, when our children were 9 and 12, we decided to join my wife’s church group on a mission project to Navajo, New Mexico. We felt it would be good for the kids to see how people in different circumstances lived. I am good with my hands and enjoy construction projects and the outdoors. It was an excellent fit. Prior to the mission trip, all the mission partners assembled to get acquainted with each other and to receive instruction on the Navajo culture. Everyone was asked to share their testimony. I was the only non-Christian in the group. God and Jesus were central throughout the mission trip. I joined in on all activities, but with a skeptical eye. It was a very memorable trip. Both the beauty of Northeast Arizona and the amazing faith in God that not only my fellow workers portrayed but also the Navajos with whom we were living.
About a year after the mission trip, many of those who went on the trip were assembling a small Bible study group who would meet weekly for fellowship and study. We were asked if we wanted to join. My wife and I talked about the fact that we had few things we did together, as a couple. We jointly decided that we would join the small group.
Again I was the only non-Christian in the group. I would participate in the Bible study but would read with a very critical and questioning eye. My questions to the group were quite different than questions others would ask, but they found my questions refreshing and spent considerable time addressing them. I learned some of the basics of Christianity: that just being a “good” person is not sufficient to attain salvation, that the Gospels tell the story of Jesus from four different perspectives. Jesus’ many parables were shared and discussed and the wonders of Jesus’ life were unveiled to me.
I found that I wanted to know more about the Bible and religion. I began another independent Bible study class at church and learned of Paul and his missionary travels in Acts. I read Darwin on Trial by Philip Johnson, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, and Letters from a Skeptic by Gregory and Edward Boyd. The Bible, these books and my Christian friends helped me to understand, and more importantly, believe that there is more to this world than what science has been able to prove. Only a God with unfathomable powers could create and orchestrate such a universe. Although we are led to believe in secular society, that science has all the answers. This is not true, the “fact” of evolution is full of holes, gaps and assumptions.
My heart was changing. The apologetic literature I had read certainly contributed to my change of heart, but the most powerful agent of change was the Bible. I could not fathom how men alone could have composed such an amazing document, how Jesus could in fact have lived a perfect life without sin, and how a document written by numerous people over the span of multiple centuries could be so cohesive and relevant, thousands of years later.
In 1998, at the age of 47, I was driving home after a day at work. I felt God provide me encouragement. In the midst of heavy traffic I professed my love and faith for Jesus Christ, confessed my sins, and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior. A day later at our Friday Bible study, I shared with my fellow Christians my love for Jesus. I was welcomed into the family of Christ that night and shared in a holy communion, where for the first time I partook of the body and blood of Christ.
I have become a new person since accepting Jesus’ love. The most significant change in my life has been a freeing from my preoccupation with work. I had placed work as the number one priority in my life. I had the mistaken belief that the best way to express my love for my family was to be an excellent provider. I also had an irrational fear that my job at work was always in jeopardy. If I lost my job I would fail not only in the eyes of my co-workers, but in the eyes of my family. Accepting Jesus’ love and teaching changed all this. I learned and came to believe that Jesus loved me no matter what and that God would provide like he does the birds in the field. A huge weight was lifted off my heart. I began to change the priorities of my life, such as investing time with my family as opposed to work. I began coming home earlier for dinner and volunteered to coach my daughter’s soccer team. My irrational fear of losing my job faded away to the point where I quit my job with no prospects of a new job, when new management began steering the company in directions incompatible with my desires. My faith in the Lord allowed me to immensely enjoy the subsequent three months of unemployment.
I now trust in God, am maturing daily through worship, enjoying fellowship with new found friends at church, studying his Word, discovering my God given gifts, using these gifts for God’s greater glory.
Thanks be to God,