Updated: Jun 6
“I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you.” 2 Tim. 1:5 In my case, it was Grandma Charlotte. She truly loved God and believed His Word.
When I was about 8 years old, Grandma Charlotte offered to study the Bible with me using a book with lots of pictures and large type. I was fascinated by the creation story, Adam and Eve, the serpent, man’s fall, Cain and Abel, Noah and the Flood, Abraham, Lot, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. At the back of the book, it dealt with Revelation, God’s judgment and Armageddon, followed by a paradise earth. For an eight year old, this was scary. I didn’t want God’s judgment, and I didn’t want to be destroyed at Armageddon. I learned that only my grandmother’s denomination would be saved from this great destruction, that we were living in the last days, and Armageddon was just around the corner. I was scared and I wanted in.
As I grew and continued to study, I became fascinated with the Bible and creation, archeology, science, evolution, and history. It all made so much sense. The books I read showed how the Bible was consistently proven accurate and reliable. Apparent contradictions could be explained. Where science or history conflicted with the Bible, the Bible eventually was proven true. I developed faith in the Bible based on the sciences, and history. It was rational, reasonable, and logical. I could mentally wrap my mind around it. It could be proven empirically. I could follow it and dedicate my life to it. And I did. I got baptized at 13 and continued in my faith in a full time capacity until I was 31.
However, something was missing. My vision of God was this bearded entity sitting on a great throne, on top of a mountain, many miles away. There was nothing personal in my view of Him. My prayers were perfunctory and impersonal. If anything, He was a demanding, even angry God that was never satisfied. I was often reminded of Luke 17:10, “When you have done all the things assigned to you, say: ‘We are good-for-nothing slaves. What we have done is what we ought to have done.’” Clearly whatever I did, it would never be enough. I didn’t deserve anything personal or relational. Who did I think I was? Besides, I had all the logical, scientific, and historical proofs.
Fast forward to my early thirties through Bible study, headquarters staff, Bible college, the mission field. Then came a crisis of conscience, questioning of faith, rejection of my beloved denomination, and wandering in spiritual darkness. I was devastated.
At the invitation of a friend, I found myself in a singles group at University Presbyterian Church. This was hard because I had believed that all churches were wrong. Speaking briefly to a young woman, I mentioned the Gospels. She got a confused look on her face, as though she didn’t know what I was talking about. I said they were Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Duh! Didn’t she know anything? Where is her spirituality? How can she know anything about God if she doesn’t even know the basics of the Bible? Yes, I was feeling very superior. Then she stretched her arms above her head, and said, “Well, I don’t know about that. But I do know that from the top of my head to the bottom of my toes, that God loves me!”
I didn’t know what to say. I was speechless. Dumbstruck. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Here I was an accomplished theologian. I had read and studied the Bible for over 25 years. I had been a missionary. And yet, I did not feel the unconditional love of God. This young woman who couldn’t name the four Gospels, was closer to God than I was! I wasn’t even in the same ballfield.
And so started a new chapter in my faith walk. I started a search for God with my heart instead of my mind. I began searching for a relationship instead of academics. “Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:39.
I do not regret the years I spent pursuing God with my mind. It gave me a wonderful basis for my faith. But I am so much happier having a heartfelt relationship with Him, as a son to a loving father. Romans 8:15, 16.
*This is the fourth in a series called Faith Beginnings.