Over the last few days I’ve had the honor of debating the existence of God with a self-proclaimed atheist. If you have read this space at all you know that I’m not. But you may not know that I was once a loudly self-proclaimed atheist.
Speaking from experience, Atheism is the loneliest place for a soul to reside. You rely upon your own strength and your own will, and because you are human, you fail. Yet, one of history’s greatest celebrated scientists, Albert Einstein said, “Every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.”
But I didn’t want to get into a discourse on God and Science. I wanted to tell my own story. It was yearbook day at Casa Grande Union High School in 1982. I was a junior and about to move into my Senior year. A Senior that I had worked with in the Electronics Club and with TV Studio, Kris Weatherly took me aside and introduced me to God and asked me to try to speak in tongues. I did. Little did I know the gift I had been given.
A month later, in a fight with my mother, I declared myself an atheist and then set forth to live that life for more than 28 years. I worshipped myself, my dreams, my creations, my thoughts. In actuality I was insecure, unsure, and lonely. One of the top students at the High School flunked out of college. I would marry a woman out of desperation and she would extract a toll on me that was hard to bear. However, when my dad suddenly died, I picked myself up, and got myself back to school and finished a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree. I began teaching and found a peace with myself that lasted through a divorce and remarriage. My new wife started to urge me toward Christ, but I resisted. I had yet to hit the bottom. That came in the fall of 2010. I was working for IBM, on about four different anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medications. Really all they did was let you stop feeling part of the world. It was horrible.
I had a conversation with myself driving between Phoenix and San Diego, taking my wares to a gun show. My love for the United States left me wondering, were the founding fathers just lucky, or did they have God behind them in their writings and pursuit of a new nation. It took me a desert and half a mountain range to decide they had to have God behind them. I wasn’t ready to accept God back into my life, but I was then ready to have an open mind.
In the spring of 2011, my wife was recovering from life-altering back surgery. She was not going to be able to go back to her sit down job and was looking at a home based business. The woman she was learning from encouraged her to go to her church and listen to the pastor talk about “Getting Rich God’s Way.” She loved it. She came home and encouraged me to go the next week and I agreed. Little did we know that God had other plans.
The next Wednesday, the Wednesday before Easter, was not a “Getting Rich God’s Way” night at the church. Instead it was a full on Easter service. I didn’t know what I had gotten myself into, but I watched a worship singer and the love he had in his face as he sang praise to the Lord made me decide that I wanted something of what he had. Throughout the service my wife and Tara kept watching me out of the corner of their eyes to see when my head was going to explode. It didn’t, to their amazement. Instead I told my wife that we would be back the next weekend. We began going to that church and dedicated ourselves to God that Spring and Summer.
After about two months, we were at church and my head finally exploded. It was thoughts and instructions that were instantly downloaded to me. Don’t ask me how, but I knew at that moment I was supposed to take a chess set I had made, and which had won woodworking awards and donate it to the church for a silent auction. The only problem was the church didn’t have any silent auction planned. I spent the entire service planning how I was going to approach the leadership to get a silent auction started. Then the final part of the service came up, the Pastor’s wife came on stage to give the announcements. The first one she had was announcing the lady’s benefit silent auction. I was floored. How did I know about that? How did I get those instructions? The only answer I could come up with was there was a God and he had something he wanted me to do. I obeyed and donated the chess set.
You see, the relationship with God is exactly that, a relationship. I can prove my relationship with my wife by our marriage certificate, but I can’t prove a friendship, or a relationship with any other person, without bringing that person in to a room to corroborate my statement. That’s why I can’t prove God to anybody. He has proven himself to me multiple times, life-changing times, some even more astounding than the story above. But until you open yourself up to hear the gospel, to feel the love, to invite a small portion of belief into your soul, God will remain abstract and distant for you.
If you have questions about God, or are a professed atheist. I ask you to continue to question, but as you ask your questions, leave a small piece of your heart open to belief. You never know when God might show up and rock your world. I firmly believe that we live in incredible times. We will see the movement of God and millions if not billions accept him, and also other billions to deny him. We could be the generation that sees the final days and the coming of Christ. I hope that’s the case, I want to meet him and thank him for the things he has given me, hope, love, provision, health, and after 28 years of atheism, a sense of belonging and peace.
Heavenly Father, we are a rebellious and obnoxious people. We spend too much time satisfying ourselves and puffing up our pride. We should be honoring you for creating us, loving us, and giving us a chance in this world. I can’t answer all the questions that I’ve been given, but Lord, I ask that you keep bringing the questions. I want to show my love for you in my persistence in the face of persecution. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear, give me voice to give you glory. Give me a platform to be heard from. Give me breath that I may shout your greatness from the rooftops. You are great and glorious. May everything I do honor you. In Jesus mighty name, Amen.