“Hey, buddy, where’s your Dad?” A kid I didn’t know was asking a question I didn’t want to answer.
I was 15 years old, living in a public housing project with my mother and sister.
Six years earlier our family had come to Florida from California. My father was part of the space program destined to put men on the moon.
He was well-paid. My mother, sister and I had lacked nothing.
Now we just lacked.
The questioner knew where my father was: Florida State Prison.
My sister and I were home alone with Dad one evening when a detective knocked on our apartment door; he had a warrant for my father’s arrest.
Dad was eventually sentenced to six months to five years. The story was in our local newspaper. The whole town knew.
One emotion dominated me: anger. And I knew where it should be directed. How, I wondered, could a God in heaven allow not only my anguish, but also the far greater suffering of so many other people? The Holocaust? Murders? Disease? The answer: God didn’t exist.
I collected notebook paper and a pen and wrote a letter to the newspaper. When it appeared, it was headlined, “Both God and Hades believed non-existent.”
Within days letters appeared praising or denouncing me. Each morning I’d steal a newspaper (we couldn’t afford a subscription) from someone’s front door. I’d scan the editorial page to see what new reaction I’d sparked.
Some weeks later a school friend invited me to his house. He brought up the subject of Christ. I listened with passing interest. He invited me to a pastor-led revival at his church.
Sitting in an overflow area just off the main auditorium, I looked at the adults in the congregation as the sermon was underway and said to myself, “These people are grown-ups. They can’t actually believe this stuff?”
After the service, one of the church’s ministers approached me. He asked me my name.
When I answered, he had another question, “Was it your father who wrote that letter to the editor?”
“No. It was me.”
He invited me to his office. I was guarded in my comments, but reiterated my thoughts on why there could be no God. Too much pain. Too much anguish. A superstition.
He took out a small booklet called the Four Spiritual Laws. He went through each one:
1. God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.
2. Man is sinful and separated from God; therefore, he cannot know and experience God’s love and plan for his life.
3. Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin. Through him you can know and experience God’s love and plan for your life.
4. We must individually receive Christ as savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives.
I remember looking at the page with a diagram that showed God above, man below, and Christ as a bridge between the two.
I thanked him for his time and prepared to leave, but nothing would change my mind.
“What if you’re wrong?” he asked. “Then I’ll burn for it,” I said.
Still, I’d been affected. The image of Christ as a bridge was inescapable. As much as I wanted to deny it, there was certain logic to man being separated from God and God reaching down to man.
I went from contemplation to anguish. What had I heard? What did it mean?
I tried to reconcile the idea of a loving, caring God sacrificing himself for humanity with the misery that infests the world.
The next evening, at the revival’s final service, I sat alone, listening carefully. By its end, I was out of my seat and standing before a congregation that I had earlier ridiculed. God, I’d concluded, doesn’t promise an absence of difficulty: he promises an abundance of grace on which to lean regardless of difficulty. We prayed. The pastor announced my acceptance of Christ as my savior. The next day I wrote a follow-up letter to the newspaper sharing my conversion to Christianity. I had to share that I’d solved a life-changing addition problem: four spiritual laws + amazing grace = saving faith.
Would You Like to Know God Personally?
What does it take to begin knowing God personally? Learn how to know God through these 4 principles.
©1994-2020 Cru. All Rights Reserved.