Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself, be sure of that.
Much to my regret and often to my sorrow, I did not become a Christian until I was in my late 40s. This was true even though I was raised in a Christian home and experienced only one serious, “how could a good God allow that?” heartache along the way – the sudden death of my wonderful father when I was just 17. (I managed my grief as many children of the ‘60s and early ‘70s managed their own: with several seasons of recreational substance abuse. Thoroughly numbed pain is roughly equivalent to no pain at all, or so the theory goes.)
Thanks be to God, my story has a happy ending: Today I’m a joyful and heaven-bound follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. But now that I’ve passed through that narrow gate, I do look back with wonder about a couple things.
Like, how I could have been so blind for so long?
I guess my story is the same as any other lost person’s: I loved my sin. Until the Lord broke me, making me see that something far more important than my pleasure and happiness was at stake, I simply did not want to stop idolizing the things of this world, or murdering others in my heart, or coveting the possessions and adventures of everyone I knew.
But there was one other factor that kept me clinging to the things of the world– and that was my ignorance. While I was fairly sure that absolute truth existed, I was even more sure that we couldn’t possibly know it in this life.
Which is, it turns out, among the vilest of lies, because it prevents us from doing what we must do if we ever hope to see heaven: to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Where were all the Christians?
The Bible clearly tells followers of Jesus Christ that it’s the Christian’s obligation to make disciples of all the nations, to preach the gospel, to “be ready in season and out of season,” as the apostle Paul wrote in his second letter to Timothy. “Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching,” he explained.
And yet: As far as I can recall, no one except my mother, whose death ultimately drove me to seek God, ever approached me about these things. And I’m positive that no one ever attempted to persuade me that Christianity was anything more than a waste of Sunday mornings.
Which meant that I was left to my own devices when the Holy Spirit finally spurred me into action.
“Are you sure Christianity is true?” I would ask a professing Christian.
“Yes, pretty sure,” she would say.
“Why? What’s your proof?”
Whereupon the professing Christian would look at me like I was crazy.
“Proof? I don’t have any proof. I just believe.”
Lost in a fog
In retrospect, there was one person I could’ve asked, and I’m fairly certain she could have helped. But on the rare occasion that I saw her in those months, it didn’t occur to me to ask her these questions; when I did see her, I was too busy asking her things about Christian theology, as in “what’s the significance of baptism?” and “who exactly is going to heaven?” and “what is it exactly that a Christian is supposed to do?”
She probably never suspected that I was far from committed to Christ in those days. I don’t think I could have even articulated the depth of my confusion; if you’ve been stumbling around in the dark your entire life, stepping into a daytime fog can make you think you’re seeing everything clearly now.
Unfortunately, I inadvertently limited my direct requests for proof to people who couldn’t tell me why they believed. They just did, they said.
Maybe they couldn’t see the fog I was in, either. Maybe some of them were even in it themselves.
What only strangers could tell me
In the end, I spent well over a year neglecting my business, my friends, and even my sleep in search of that elusive absolute truth. What I didn’t get from the Christians I knew personally, I got from strangers who loved the Lord enough to go to a lot of effort on His behalf.
And oh, what they gave me! An avalanche of scientific, historical and prophetic evidence for the truth of Christianity – and for the falsehood of every other worldview, from atheism to Zen Buddhism, existentialism to the New Age. I found enough evidence to destroy all the lies and delusions that had kept me, for my entire adult life, from doing what the Bible says we must do to see heaven: to repent and trust in Christ.
I found these evidences in various books, and through the lectures of Bible-loving teachers on VCY America’s TV and radio stations. And unfortunately without the guidance of a real live Christian, which meant that I wasted quite a bit of time and credulity on apostate and pagan books that were filled with red herrings, wild-goose chases and rabbit trails.
But by the grace of God, I was absolutely driven to pursue the truth. I had to know, for the reasons outlined in my memoir, and I had to know now, and I wasn’t going to let anything that had once been important to me stand in my way.
What if I hadn’t been so obsessed?
What if I’d had a real job instead of my own business, and hadn’t had time to pursue the truth?
What if I’d just been your average, garden-variety seeker?
I’ll tell you what if.
I probably would have remained confused for 7.8 months and then given up. Or I might have taken up with some apostate mainline church and left as soon as its liberalism became apparent or I realized I was still starving to death spiritually. Or I might have fallen into some branch of New Age mysticism because it might have seemed, experientially, to be true.
I am quite sure that I would not have become a born-again Christian.
Fortunately, the Holy Spirit didn’t allow any of these things to happen. He lit a fire for the truth in me that has yet to be quenched.
But I wonder: Weren’t all those professing Christians supposed to be helping me see that their faith was not just nice, but true?
Can you give a reason for your hope?
It’s distressing to me – and should be to every Christian – that so few of us share our faith at all, according to survey after survey. And it’s equally distressing that so few of us have equipped ourselves to give a reason for the hope that is in us, the hope that means not wishful thinking but, biblically speaking, confident expectation that the Lord will fulfill every last promise He has made to us.
The proof is still readily available to any American – and will be for at least a while longer.
Looking for proof?
Stay tuned! My goal is to post the evidences for Christianity that I found most persuasive, and suggested resources for further study.
If you can’t wait, then don’t: If science is your thing, go immediately to the web site of Answers in Genesis or the Institute for Creation Research and have a look around.
More interested in history and prophecy? Check out a site like this.
Then consult my Everlasting Place library and consider reading those books that best match your own particular interests; I put it together specifically to help seekers avoid the wheel-spinning I engaged in as I pursued all those red herrings, wild geese and rabbit trails.
May the Lord give wings to your efforts!