I recently began corresponding with a fellow blogger who inquired about my salvific experience; why did I become a Christian. Honestly, it was a cordial banter, but it made me feel a little condescended to. I’m in recovery for pridefulness, so I’ve added a sub-routine into my thinking that tells me if I am offended, first check with God before I respond. That’s what I did, and He revealed to me the startling reality that I haven’t shared my testimony with anyone in a very long time. Bad minister! I’ll use this blog posting to share with you how a man could be raised an Agnostic Liberal and then become a Christian. It’s not unheard of, but the story is a little off the beaten path.
Before I came to know Christ, I grew up in an agnostic home; parents and siblings. Dad was a journalist in the Air Force, who served in Public Affairs with the FAA after his military service. He was a liberal, but more in the classic sense, and strongly against all things Christian, although he tried to pretend he was open-minded.
We moved around a lot. I had been exposed to Christianity in Catholic school in first grade, but after that it was just a smattering of times here and there because my dad wanted to feel like he didn’t deprive us of the chance to make up our own minds. We kids just went with the flow around the house, and none of us ever let the infrequent brush with faith penetrate our heads.
Throughout my days in school it would always come out that I was the new kid in class who wasn’t a Christian. Most of my upbringing happened in Texas, so it was incumbent on all the local children to ask my brother, sister and myself if we would go to church. We would answer with the agnostic passive-aggressive “We don’t believe in God (go sell it to someone else)”. The other children
asked things like “What does your family believe, like, you’re against God?” It was irritating, but I got used to it. I consoled myself as my dad explained that “only weak people need religion”. That dynamic with the local Texas Christians always made my siblings and I the popular kids right off… No, of course, it didn’t. Still, Dad seemed to have a good explanation for our agnosticism. He said that we weren’t anti-Christian, we just didn’t believe in what we couldn’t see or prove, and Dad’s explanations held for my early years. Of course, we had no Biblical training, so we wouldn’t be able to see God if He hit us in the face. As I reflect, God did many times, but that’s for another blog.
My first brush with revelation happened when I was a senior in high school; it was when I first felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit. I was invited to a revival at the town’s Baptist church and I decided to go because my friends would be going there. O.k., all of the attractive girls would be there, too. They were Christians, I was agnostic, but you got to work with what you have.
If you’ve never been to a Baptist revival, particularly if you are the non-believing-for-a-good-reason kid, you get asked “Do you know Jesus?” So I discussed my absence of a salvation status with a youth minister, and surprise of surprises, he didn’t press me on the agnostic thing. I thought, ‘Where were all the mean spirited Bible-crazies I had been raised to expect?’ During services, One who I’ve come to know is the Spirit began convicting me of my sin, and I began to understand the message. I quickly understood far more than anything the preacher was saying. I saw myself in a completely new light, and I thought “What the hell have you been doing, David? There is a lot better life for you.” I felt like I had been an opponent of a great benefactor, and I had rejected Him. I was stunned and became a little emotional. I recall that it was not a feeling that I had injured anyone, but that I refused to see and know something profoundly important.
So this was high school, and I had a curfew. I knew it was late so I called my dad to ask him to relax the curfew. Hearing the emotion in my voice, Dad decided I needed to come home and not make any decisions. I remained unsaved for seven more years, knowing there was a hole in my heart that had to be filled. I was haunted by the reality that everything I had been taught was obviously incomplete. It’s tough to describe, but if you’ve ever had the first day of a new job, and you didn’t even know what you didn’t know, that was the spiritual feeling always lurking in the background of my life.
I graduated high school, worked at the Sheriff’s office, and did courses at community college. My journalism instructor introduced me to broadcasting and got really interested in it, so I joined the Air Force and served in Armed Forces Radio & Television Service.
While stationed overseas in Sicily, I found myself befriending the base chaplains, who were in a unique position. They couldn’t
proselytize to their faith, so they introduced me to a lot of faiths. I studied Hindu, Zen Buddhism, Jainism, Islam and Sikhism. Nothing “stuck”, still I was afraid to go near Christianity again because of the frightening experience I had in high school.
I got married to a wonderful Christian woman, we got the kids, I finished military service, and then I was out into the civilian world again. I had a family, we had a house, we both had jobs… and I still had a hole in my life. I would fill that hole with work, more school, family time, anything but church.
When I was 25, my wife, Charlene, urged me to come with her and our 3 and 5-year-old sons to church. I went very reluctantly, but regularly. Once again I felt The Spirit convicting me. Secretly, I felt like trying to figure out how defeat this whole “Christianity thing” so I could just “do my own thing.” Still I kept appeasing my wife, and kept running back to the gaping hole in my world.
It wasn’t until my son became ill that I was convinced God had what my heart needed, and I learned he had a plan for me. My wife and I noticed that Adam, my 3-year-old, had begun bruising inexplicably. We were concerned and looking for answers as to why Adam was bruising for about a week. That weekend, Charlene and I took the boys to an event in a neighboring town, where we had chipped in with other friends for a licensed care giver to watch the kids.
When we got home, there was a patrol car in our driveway. The officer told us he was on a Department of Human Services call. The DHS worker soon came and began a child abuse investigation. She took the boys, and we went to the hospital. The doctor discovered that Adam had ITP; a blood disorder. Adam could die. He and Charlene went out on a Life Flight the next morning. Charlene called the next evening. Adam was saved. Nothing but God’s presence could explain it. The agnostic inside me died, as I sat crying on my living room floor, thanking God. I’d gone to church, and I knew the script. I gave my life to Jesus Christ, and was baptized.
There was a long, winding road from Texas to Sicily to the Azores and back to Texas. Along the way, God put the people and situations that are running in a zillion other pathways, in my pathway. I discovered, and now I know that the science I worshipped as an agnostic was far from explaining the world as I know it now. Of all the things I’ve found since I was saved, the most important lesson I learned is love. I finally, actually know what love is and where it comes from. What I knew as love before was good, but now it is infinitely powerful, multifaceted and brilliant. It finally made sense why people would take the vicious punishment that Christians take, and they still follow, up to and including to their own death. I finally get it.
I could keep writing this blog for hours, covering reams and reams of digital pages with the story, but the goal was to just write about my salvific experience. I want to thank my fellow bloggers and commenters. You inspire me more than you know, and it is a joy to have this revival, right here on an LCD screen.