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I Choose To Believe

Updated: Jun 8, 2023

I grew up on the big island of Hawaii and attended a Congregational Church with my family. We kids were dropped off early for Sunday School and our parents joined us later for church. Our parents were very private about their faith. It was the job of the church to train us in Christianity. (And our pastor taught me to ring the great bell, that lifted me right off the ground!) I learned the basics of salvation through Jesus and that Jesus was the Son of God, but nothing about being born again of the Spirit.

When I was in middle school, our parents informed us that we were all going to be baptized. We obeyed. The entire family was baptized by sprinkling. But nothing changed for me as a result. I just continued living my life as I had been. I was in charge of my own life and Jesus was in the background.

I had a very smooth childhood. No trials. I graduated high school and went off to college in California, graduating and getting licensed as a Physical Therapist. Nothing seemed to rock my boat. Nothing nudged me towards the God I had studied but didn’t know.

However, when I became a new mom at the age of 28, my peace vanished. Parenting a baby was a daunting task. I felt I needed help. I started reexamining what I had heard in Sunday School about God and heaven. Jesus was at the core of Christian faith, but did I believe in Him? Could I believe in Him?

I started seeking God by reading books about the after-life. Many people have written about dying or almost dying, and catching a glimpse of light or of something they could call heaven. I thought that if I could find proof of heaven, then I could base my faith in God on that.

Well, I didn’t get anywhere with that. My reading didn’t convince me of the reality of heaven or God. I stuck with the status quo – me in charge; Jesus in the background. But, I no longer felt comfortable with the arrangement.

Then one day, I was resting on my bed with my son, who was a baby at the time, lying in the crib at the foot of the bed. I was really feeling the weight of the heavy responsibility of a parent. I lay there revisiting my Sunday school years and my supposed research as to whether there was a God or a heaven, wanting certainty. I still couldn’t get an answer. Finally, I just stopped, and said to myself, “I choose to believe”.

At that moment, a person appeared in the room right in front of me – I know it was Jesus. There was a tremendously bright light. I had to squint and close my eyes. But even with closing my eyes I could still see the white figure in front of me. I was thinking - “Is this Jesus? I mean, who is this??!” And an answer came to me in my thoughts, “I am here”. For of course, He could read my thoughts. And that was it. I know it was not a dream because the doorbell rang and someone was at the door and I had to run and go answer it.

Why would God choose to visit me in this way? It’s a gift. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Not because I’m special. I can imagine Jesus saying to Himself, “She’s a tough nut. Here she is finally saying she has faith – I better show up!” God knows us well. I have to see and feel things in the physical realm in order to believe them.

Many years later, when I was part of Newport Covenant Church, I chose to be rebaptized in the cold waters of Lake Washington off the shore of Covenant Shores on Mercer Island. This time the choice was truly mine.

*This is the sixth in a series called Faith Beginnings.

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