Archive for January, 2012

“My Life Story” as told to Calvin Guy

January 28, 2012

I recently wrote this up for a man struggling in his faith. Like what once happened to me, he finds himself in a state of atheism. I wanted to share my life story of how there is a God and how He has worked in my life as encouragement. I hope it also encourages you as well:

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A reply by William Boyer to “Calvin Guy”:

Oh, I’m sorry, I guess my last comment really was preachy. I was getting carried away. I’m glad if anything I said really helped you in any way though. I used to claim I was a seeker of truth that had already explored every possibility, but I’m not. I’ve been doing a lot more of that lately though. Truth is, yeah, I am a seeker of truth, but it can take an entire lifetime to REALLY dig through all of the possibilities to find the truth. In my opinion, similar perhaps to your story, I got “lucky.” I’d like to tell you my story sometime, if you’d like, and my journey from a blind faith to a knowing/seeing faith. I may do that briefly in this comment. But as for your thoughts and feelings, those are very good to have and explore. Answers need be found and I challenge myself with answering such for my own benefit. I’d like to address that someday. Especially to God in the Old Testament, but I’ll save that for my reply to your other comment. But it’s important to me to challenge myself – and others – to really, truly search for the truth. Most people are satisfied and comfortable with what they already believe, no matter what that is or why. They’re almost always afraid, I’ve found, to even consider or entertain the thought of truly making sure that what they believe is the truth. The possibility that what they believe may not be the truth scares the heck out of them. And sadly there are a large amount of people who never and will never choose to leave their comfort zone in order to test their beliefs and search to make sure they really have the truth. To be honest, there’s still a lot I don’t know about other faiths. Still a lot I don’t know about this world, about the Bible, about God, about the truth, about other sects or branches or “cults” (really, an ugly word I don’t like to use) of Christianity such as Jehovah Witness, Mormonism, Iglesia Ni Cristo, Roman Catholicism and etc, etc, etc. And the things you’ve brought up, I don’t know the answers for certain about that either. I have theories and guesses. For example, when it comes to how will others know about Christ, I have this: “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart,” Jeremiah 29:13 (I’ll elaborate more on that if you’d like – think of the Centurion and Ethiopian in Acts; I’ve heard of dozens of supposedly true examples closer to today as well). Also, the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:18-23 said that nature was enough for people to realize there must be a Creator. As far as wrongs committed in the name of God or Christ, that is truly a horror and truly not what Christ or God would ever want, especially concerning the beating of a child. Does the child know that? Because of the choice of his parent(s), he may be turned away from God or Jesus or religion because of it and go the rest of his life without knowing that God actually truly loves him, and that is very sad. As far as those in China and other poverty stricken countries? The thought of America’s spoiled and greedy citizens, for which I am one as well, and our richness, which we take for granted and waste constantly, as compared to those in need elsewhere … that thought truly sickens me. I believe such poverty and hardship and toil in the world to be a continuing result of this world corrupted by the sin curse that Adam and Eve originally let loose upon us. I do not believe it to be God’s fault, but I do like to believe that it breaks His heart as well. But do I know whether my theories and guesses and thoughts on all these things are all true or not? No. That’s called a blind faith. It requires me to believe in something I don’t know for certain and can’t prove.

But let me tell you what I do know. Now, I could delve into years of researching history and archaeology and science and personal experiences of others and etc, but I won’t. History and all that would take too long. I can’t prove whether something someone else experienced is true or not. But I can my own experiences. Like you, I went to Christian school – elementary, junior high, high school, and college. If you’d be willing to read my tale, I’ve been dying to tell. I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant. This tale is really not about me but about how awesome God is. But you be the judge. If anyone ever didn’t believe any aspects of my story, I’d like to remind one that everything I write about I truly believe happened. I also truly believe there’s no other logical explanation. Let’s skip back in time. After I was born I eventually had to be taken back to the hospital. Only a few weeks old (I’m not sure how old), I had a condition in which I could not hold down anything and threw up my food. I underwent a surgery and the scar is on my stomach to this day. I am told that, after the surgery, my heart stopped beating for 10 minutes and my mom had to revive me because the nurses ignored the sounds of the heart monitoring machine. I was told this from an early age, but there was something I was never told about this until I was 19. I grew up in a family that claimed to be Christian but didn’t attend any church. We didn’t pray or talk about God or read the Bible or anything. My mom however was intent on me going to Christian school and my dad allowed it because he didn’t want me to have what he thought was a poor education in the public school system. She would take my brother and I to a United Methodist church a few times when I was older, but only for maybe a couple of services or so. My grandmother would take me to Vacation Bible School at her Baptist church every summer, where I eventually followed a bunch of people up to the altar and they showed me some multi-colored book. I didn’t understand the Gospel message they were trying to teach me and just cried because, as a young child, I couldn’t find my grandmother. It was decided that I had accepted Christ as Savior and I was sprinkled in the United Methodist church. With all of this Christian background I grew up believing that Jesus was “my buddy” and that He died for me, but never put in any thought what that even meant. Because of this, I considered myself a Christian but also believed that the Earth was brought into existent by the Big Bang and that all life on Earth biologically evolved from some “primordial ooze” and that all religions lead to that religion’s version of heaven, just as long as the follower was sincere and a good person. In other words, I didn’t know what I believed.

(the below has been somewhat heavily edited to protect the identity of the person involved)

I could mention at some point that I was raised by one parent who was a drunk…and experienced a broken family as my parents would constantly physically assault each other through out the years and, later in my teen years, lead to my little brother and I being somewhat physically [threatened]…[There was also from the other parent] verbal, emotional, and physical abuse through out our childhood [but nothing THAT bad physically; only mentally and emotionally, for the most part]. This information is not necessary for my story, but perhaps you might find that interesting since you brought up a child being beaten by their parents. When in my teen years…also came at me with a knife (a serrated steak knife) while I was in bed one night claiming that [their] God told [him or her] to kill me. This has all caused much trauma and grief in my life, but fortunately never turned me against faith in Christ.

In 1999, when I was 14 years old, however, I had to change schools. The Christian school I was at only went up to 8th grade and I had just graduated. Now, this first Christian school, mind you, despite it’s teachings, was overrun by drugs, constant cursing, cheating, very heavy bullying, physical fights, girls being taken advantage of (or almost were) against their will by male students, and all sorts of things you would not expect from a Christian school. Namely because the student body wasn’t primarily Christian. But I didn’t know that at the time. When it came time to transfer I wanted to follow my friends to public school, but I was outside the district and I was afraid that if the bullies at Christian school were that bad, then I sure as heck didn’t want to experience the bullies at public schools! I was beaten up all the time at school, starting from when I was in 1st or 2nd grade when the entire class above me kept hitting me over the head repeatedly with the condemned church picnic shelter’s barbecue pit’s iron grill. So, in the fall of 1999, I transferred to a different Christian school. Things were oddly different here though. None of the students were jerks, they didn’t curse, didn’t disrespect the teachers, were kind and nice, and most importantly of all – they didn’t beat the living daylights out of me! I was in heaven. But as I continued to go there I soon discovered why. They had Jesus Christ in their lives and a lot of the kids I used to know at my old school … well, didn’t. And it was there that I realized I also never truly accepted Christ as Savior. I realized for the first time that what it means to be a sinner is that I am not right with God because I have disobeyed Him by not PERFECTLY keeping ALL 10 of His commandments and that meant that when I died God would have to judge me and send me to an eternal Hell. I also realized for the first time WHY Jesus died for me: to pay the penalty for that sin. Our guilt was placed upon Him, and when we trust in Him as Savior His righteousness is placed upon us. So in the fall of 1999 my life forever changed when I accepted Christ as my Savior.

But a changed life wouldn’t be enough to prove anything. It was when I was 17 years old, in the first few days of September of 2002, that something miraculous happened. I had spent three years thirsting after getting to know God from reading the Bible and would inconsistently go to my grandmother’s United Methodist church. I remember one Sunday after church my grandmother, still bitter due to a Baptist pastor’s attempted rape on her as a teenager and other issues I didn’t really know about or understand, suddenly out of the blue making me promise not to become a missionary. It was the strangest thing in the world. What the heck? A missionary? Me? Why would she think that? To this day I have absolutely no idea. I hope to one day find out. Anyway, I had always wanted to be cartoonist and being a missionary didn’t fit into my plans for my life. I certainly liked telling people about Jesus, but no thanks. So I promised her I wouldn’t, seeing as how I had no plans to do that anyway. However at that same time I silently prayed and told God I would break this promise if He wanted me to. I wanted to please God and, let’s face it, I didn’t think praying that would do any harm. I was wrong. That following Tuesday, only two days later, I was sitting in school. My class was watching a movie about the true story of the Bowers, a missionary family who’s airplane was shot down, during a chapel time when, all of a sudden, I became paralyzed. I couldn’t move or speak. I felt something strange moving – bubbling – up from my stomach or some place and into my head. When this strange sensation came into my head, words starting forming: “I am the Lord your God. You will be My missionary. You serve Me.” I was honestly scared for my life. Which may be partly the reason why I found myself paralyzed. My mind raced. The heck? It was God. I could find no other explanation. He even introduced Himself. I guess that’s polite when you start talking to someone, isn’t it? My mind raced with thoughts of being a cartoonist and this majorly getting in the way. I was selfish with my life and that’s what I wanted to do: to draw comics. But I didn’t want to say “no” to the Creator of the entire universe, to God. I love God and it seemed like a really bad decision to say no to someone that all-powerful. I sat there, bitterly weeping, probably freaking out my friends and classmates, for what seemed like 30 minutes. It was probably a much smaller amount of time. I felt God was looking for a “yes” or “no” answer. I was honestly too afraid to reply with anything, let alone a “yes” or a “no.” Now, the paralyzed feeling I mentioned? It felt like a mountain was laid on top of me. I describe it today as the weight of the presence of God pressing down upon me. Eventually, through my tears, I said “Yes, Lord.” And immediately that pressure lifted up and disappeared and I was able to finally stop crying and was finally able to stop staring at the floor and start moving around.

Now, the story is far from over, but to bring us around circle, it was because of this event that I was finally able to lay to rest my many doubts that would arise on whether or not God really existed. He did. Someone who doesn’t exist can’t talk to you. Pretty crazy stuff, right? So I decided that I had to do this “serve God” missionary thing and might as well get behind it 100% (which I didn’t because I still emotionally and mentally, in the back of my head, would rather be a cartoonist). I was going to do it involuntarily, as if only to obey. But for the first time in my life I realized just how messed up my family was. My parents didn’t care about a relationship with God. I started looking around school and noticed that most of everyone there, although moral or nice people, didn’t really care about a relationship with God, at least not so openly that they wanted to talk about it. I became disappointed with everyone who I considered to be a Christian and used it as an excuse. If no one else will obey and follow God, why do I have to be the one to do it? So, I became an atheist.

Whoa, whoa, whoa… What? Yeah, that’s right. I stopped believing God even existed. Why would a person who’s actually just been spoken to by God, like, the week previous suddenly claim atheism? Because I wanted to be a cartoonist and I wanted out of this missionary thing. It was too overwhelming. I considered just believing that God didn’t say this to me and moving on with my Christianity, but that honestly was impossible. I tried to convince myself that I must have been influenced by a lack of sleep, high emotions from the movie, and, I don’t know, what my grandmother said last Sunday. I must have hallucinated it or… No, that wasn’t possible. Either God exists and that REALLY happened or God doesn’t exist, therefore He can’t speak. I ran, buddy. I ran hard. I went into totally disbelief and, honestly, it shocked my system. I spent several months or more feeling cold and dead inside and keeping my new-found atheism to myself so that nobody would bug me about it. I avoided conversations about God, I avoided reading the Bible, I tuned out all the Christian stuff at school, and church wasn’t hard to stay away from since my family never went anyway. I still remember something startling that happened on my way driving home from school one day. I was almost home when suddenly I heard this suddenly being spoken to me inside my head: “No matter how much you choose to believe that I am not real, I still exist. As a matter of fact, I’m living inside your heart.” I didn’t reply back to the voice. An atheist doesn’t talk to gods or other things that don’t really exist or otherwise he’d be insane. Right? I felt cold and dead, unable to deny that God spoke to me yet a second time, but unable to face up and get real with Him and with reality. When I got home I went straight to bed, but I couldn’t sleep. I just felt so cold and dead and lifeless that I just wanted to lie there. And stare in fear at my Bible that was collecting dust at the other side of my room. But I didn’t crack. It wasn’t until a few months later that things were getting so bad at home with my family that God forced me to come back to Him because I knew He was the only one who could help my family. Things were not good though. Although I’d rather not talk about, I ended up being subpoenaed by the police to act as a witness to a crime against a person who I didn’t even want to be found guilty or be kept in jail any longer, despite the fact I knew they were guilty. Fortunately, that family member was released and things did get better, over time. This all occurred within the winter and spring of 2003.

When the yearbooks came out at the end of 2003’s school year it had a quote from me that I was planning on going into the ministry after high school. I was back and no longer an atheist, no one being the wiser that I ever bailed on my faith. I wasn’t sure what to do next so I started attending a Bible college – Piedmont Baptist College, much to my grandmother’s anger and disgust – in the hopes that I would be taught the Bible and somehow sometime find God’s will for my life and become that missionary He wanted me to be. I’m still working on that, by the way. But it was when I was 19, during the Spring semester, my second semester, of my time at PBC, in 2004, when my mom finally told me something I had not previously been told: when my heart stopped after the surgery when I was so young, she prayed to God that if I lived she would give me back to Him to serve Him for the rest of my life. Fact or fiction? I don’t know, but I never told my mom that God spoke to me when I was 17. I told no one. Until, I believe, the year 2011. Who would believe me? But I’ve become more bold in recent years. To me God speaking to me and calling me at the age of 17 was Him returning to take what was His: me. Not only did He buy me with the blood of Christ, but I’m His to serve Him because of this too. Not that He, the God of the entire universe, would need my mom’s consent for this. It was enough that He bought my butt with the blood of His only begotten Son – His blood!

That same semester of college in 2004 I would end up going with a small group up to a Missions Agency, ABWE, to check it out. Although it didn’t lead me to discovering what God wants me to do with my life, I did discover that they were the same Agency that sent out the Bowers who’s plane crashed. There was deep spiritual significance to me about it since it was during this movie God spoke to me and called me to be a missionary as well. I saw a propeller blade from their plane while at the Agency and ran my hand up and down it, putting my fingers in the bullet holes. I find it neat that my last name is “Boyer” and their last name is “Bowers.” But a coincidence, I’m sure.

I suppose that a lot of other amazing things have happened in my life since then. God has spoken to me a few more times through the years, although maybe not as dramatically as these first two times. The other times were mostly bringing Bible verses straight to my mind when I asked Him a question (and the verses answered them). Once, in September of 2010, He told me while on my way to work that if my workplace didn’t stop making everyone work 7 days a week that He would continue to shut off their entire factory for an hour every Sunday. Honestly, we had been baffled why that kept happening. I enjoyed it because we got to go to the break room until the machines came back online. Maintenance and the Tech guys kept trying to figure out what was wrong with the system, but they could never figure it out. Honestly, I was tired and it was like 4:30 AM and I was drinking a lot of coffee, so I’m not sure if I hallucinated that time or not. It seemed pretty real though. I should have told more people what He said (I told a Christian supervisor) but I didn’t want them to view me as a Moses jerk come to spout holy nonsense about letting his people go, lol. Hey, at least I’m honest about my mistakes. Another time in the fall of 2010 around the same time I was driving home from seeing my girlfriend (currently my fiance) when I had an image of my ex-girlfriend, my best friend’s sister, sitting at a local hospital in the Mental/Behavioral Ward section. Behind a door I saw her sitting on a bed while wearing one of those blue patient gowns. I saw myself with her at her side. I thought it an awful and disturbing image, so I rebuked myself and tried to forget it. But immediately I got a text on my cell phone. So I pulled over and checked it. It was my best friend asking me to pray for his sister, my ex, because she had just been admitted to the same hospital from the image in my head. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but decided that it must have been a vision (my first and only vision). I asked if I could join them as I thought, from the vision, that I was supposed to be there. He said no as he didn’t think that was a good idea. It was a week or two later that he finally told me why she was admitted and what section of the hospital she was admitted to: the Mental/Behavioral Ward. I finally told my friend the vision I had, since I had previously kept it to myself. I still wonder if I was supposed to be by her side at that time. I hope my prayers were enough. By the way, she is doing much better now! I can never divulge who this is though as it’s a very private matter for my ex-girlfriend and her family. I mention this because it’s probably wrong that I even bring it up. I hope maybe to get permission as I plan on writing a book, however, about how God has worked in my life.

What I find interesting is that last year I finally got up enough courage to tell people that God spoke to me (albeit not audibly, but … telepathically?) when I was 17 years old. I told my best friend and future fiance. What was surprising is that they also said that God had spoken to them at times. Maybe not the exact same way, but it blew my mind. Maybe God is speaking to lots, if not all, Christians with personal relationships with Him, but everyone is too scared to tell people because they’re afraid that everyone will think they’re crazy, just like I had been afraid? And what’s more interesting is that my fiance relayed to me an extremely similar experience of her own. I can’t verify someone else’s experience as true or false, but she told me more about what I already knew when she accepted Christ as Savior herself, which was a year before we met. She said that, while driving, she felt a weight come upon her and she started crying uncontrollably. She felt God told her that, although she had been going to church for years, she needed to accept His Son as her Savior. When she did, the weight immediately lifted off her, just like when God called me to be a missionary. What’s also interesting is that this happened the very same month and year – February of 2009 – I messaged her online on a dating website. She wouldn’t reply to that message for an entire year, the following January or February, in 2010. Oh, this isn’t necessarily a cool spiritual thing, but something I find awesome is that it turns out my fiance and I were born in the same hospital in the same month in the same year and only 4 days apart. Pretty cool coincidence, anyway.

I never did tell you about how God has provided me a job, did I? I kept grumbling and complaining like the Hebrews in the desert under Moses’ lead, but He kept being faithful when I thought He had abandoned me, and it humbled me. Made me realize I need to trust Him more. I didn’t understand what was happening, but later the puzzle pieces came together and it all made sense, more or less, how it had to happen like that for me to get the job I have today. And the jobs, although I ultimately was not able to keep them, would always come right before I ran out of money. Cool story. And my fiance really helped me get closer to God, more in love with Him, and really increase my faith and trust in Him. After years of not hearing from God and feeling horrible because I was neglected my relationship with Him, He sends her into my life. And now I’ve stopped running and I actually want to serve Him voluntarily out of love and excitement! I truly believe that’s why He put my fiance into my life, and I love Him all the more for her! I guess that having someone you care about in your life helps you to not be so selfish and self-centered anymore… Anyway, I got carried away. 🙂

So, all I want to do is encourage you that, out of all the things that I don’t know, I can assure you that God must be real. Someone who’s not real can’t speak literal words, whether telepathically or audibly, nor can someone who’s not real be so actively involved in someone’s life. My fiance, through out our relationship, would feel that she should call me in the morning, believing it was God. Every time she did she woke me up. I thought she was being paranoid, but one day she ignored the feeling to call me and I overslept and was late for work – to a new job that I was trying my best not to get fired from, especially since I have a history of epic job failure. Other such things occurred. I learned quickly that my fiance is very sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. A coincidence? God? You decide. I really believe it’s not a coincidence, but I could be wrong. It’s personal experiences like this from my friends and college professors and so on that continue to amaze me and further cement my belief that God is actively working in the lives of believers. But, I have to admit that, if I hadn’t have experienced a personal relationship with God firsthand myself, all of these stories I heard in Bible college and from people I know through out the years – although amazing and cool – wouldn’t mean a thing to me, personally. Why? Because there’s no proof. They’re just personal accounts of personal experiences that can’t be proven to me whether they actually occurred or not. For all I know they’re fanciful stories made up by people who want so desperately for everyone to believe in God – or to boast in themselves as Christians – that they are willing to lie about it. But I want you to know, man, that I’m not like that. I would hate to believe in something I knew I made up and lied about. I would hate to be in a religion or church or organization that believed something that I couldn’t even know was true or not. So I would never lead someone astray by lying to them. I’d be a nervous wreck if I knew I believed lies I invented myself. There’s a lot of things I don’t know yet. But what I do know is that God is real. And if you search for Him with all your heart, like it says in Jeremiah 29:13, you will find the Truth: “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” If you or anyone else is truly and sincerely seeking the truth, and are truly open minded, search for it. Search for Him. He will not disappoint those that are serious about finding Him. And then you can know whether He’s real or not by experiencing God and Jesus Christ yourself. But you said you grew up learning about God and Jesus. Maybe you’ve already experienced Him? But I tried to get away myself. I tried to become an atheist. It didn’t work. You don’t have to tell me anything, but, man, there are a lot of people who believe in God but never truly accept Christ as Savior. I was one of them until I got around people that changed my life because it made me realize I had never accepted Christ. Mandie, my fiance, was the same way. She was in church for 24 years of her life before she realized for the first time that she had never accepted Christ as Savior. There’s a difference between believing in a cool God that loves kids and tells them stories … and actually entering into a personal relationship with Him. There are a lot of Christians who hear and were taught that they had a “personal relationship” with God, but they never knew what this meant. I’m telling you now what it means. It means God actively working in your life in a way that you can’t deny His existence. It doesn’t mean believing in something. It means knowing someone. I can believe George Washington was a past president of America, but I never personally knew George. I never spoke to him and he never spoke back. He never sent me a postcard or gave me a dollar signed, “Here’s a picture of me, in case you forget what I look like, ha ha!” And George certainly never called me up on the telephone and enlisted me into the American army or marines. Doesn’t that sound like what most religious or even Christian people find themselves in? A God that never speaks back or works in their lives? But what I’ve experienced with God is real. Very real. And it’s my desire that others have a personal relationship with that God, with Jesus Christ, too.

By the way, you might be wondering why I’m cartooning today instead of off in the Congo as a missionary somewhere, right? Although I’m a part-time cartoonist today – and I credit God for giving me that work – I actually WANT to serve Him now! And isn’t that something? God loves me and never intended on me quitting on my dream of cartooning! Fantastic. I’m using that artistic talent to try to give back to Him. Who knows? Maybe that’s how He wanted me to serve Him all along? But I’ll serve Him how I can until I discover what other ministries He might have for me to do. 🙂

Christianity: Is it a “Religion” or a “Relationship”?

January 28, 2012

The following was originally a reply to some negative comments and questions on FaceBook regarding this Youtube video:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=1IAhDGYlpqY#!

 

By the definition I memorized long ago from a dictionary (Webster’s?), it is still a religion. According to that definition, a religion is a belief system around one or more gods or deities and has a number of followers or believers. Very basic definition. What we really mean to say is that, unlike all of the OTHER religions on the planet, the God of this one is “living” and actually can see, hear, speak, act, move, and have a relationship with us, and so much more. And all those other religions have gods that are distant to us and don’t seem to really care about us and we can’t know them or get to know them (we can’t really know what they’re like), when the God of the Bible is calling us into a personal, loving and intimate relationship/friendship with Him, through Christ, who reveals God to us and showed us what He is like while He was on earth. The video is perhaps more of a comparison/contrast (not scholarly or in great detail) as to the difference between the real religion and some of the characteristics of false religion, some of which he mentions include: relying on self or your own works to save you, judging others as horrible sinners and yourself as a righteous law keeper when in reality you ain’t no different or better and you’re not showing the love of Christ by looking down on others, and etc etc etc. I’d like to add “any organization or church that claims it’s the only way to God.” But you get the point. It’s more about putting down the absence of love in other religions, probably more likely Christian churches that have lost sight or never had their sight set on imitating Christ and His love for others, while lifting up the belief in a loving God who wants a personal relationship with us. Not a distant, cold God, but a warm and close God.

But for me? For me I never knew why we as Christians claimed our faith wasn’t a religion but a relationship for many years. I just repeated and thought I was right, which although I was right it was just plain ignorant for me to repeat and back up things I didn’t understand and couldn’t even begin to back up or defend. For me, I realized within the past couple of years what that meant and really thought hard about my life experiences. I originally had a weak, blind faith but now I have a strong seeing, knowing faith. I accepted Christ as Savior when I was 14 years old in the fall of 1999, not through any person but a sudden realization that I was a sinner and a realization of what that meant before a righteous God. I picked up a Bible and started reading and it lead to me accepting Christ. Not important to bring up, but I like the fact that my salvation has absolutely no denominational ties or any human person leading me to faith in Jesus. Getting on with my story, and skipping a whole mess of details here and there, when I was 17 something happened. Up until this point I really struggled with whether or not God really was real. I had weak faith and sometimes fought hard not to lose my faith. Although I strongly loved the Lord and believed He really was real and rewards those who diligently seek Him, I would sometimes be attacked by ferocious mental doubts. The doubtful thoughts I battled with occasionally reasoned within me that without proof, I really still didn’t know. I had blind faith and I knew it. But when I was 17, while watching a movie with friends in September of … 2002, on a Tuesday (you don’t forget CRAZY things like this), an incredible feeling of weight fell over me and I felt something weird bubbling up through me and, upon reaching my brain, forming these words: “I am the Lord your God. You are My missionary. You serve Me.” I couldn’t deny what was happening, as freaky as it was, and my mind raced. I felt like I had to give an answer. He was forcing me to. I had no other choice. I really didn’t want to say yes but I really didn’t want to tell my Lord, the God and creator of the entire universe (you don’t say no to the hand that feeds), no. I loved and wanted to obey Him. I felt like I sat there, sobbing my head off, for 30 minutes. It was probably just 10 minutes, if even that. To this day I wonder if my friends thought I was losing it or not. Fortunately, God planned it out so that this happened during a really sad part of the movie… “Thank you, Lord, for not completely embarrassing me in front of my friends, lol.” The weight kept on me and I felt like I couldn’t move at all whatsoever, I wasn’t really conscious much of what I was seeing (which already happens normally as I have ADD and zone out constantly) and kept staring and sobbing toward the floor. Finally, I uttered one word: “Yes, Lord.” It was exactly then that suddenly the weight lifted off of me and I could move again (and stop sobbing like a pathetic baby). Although I have not heard from God like this too often in my life, this would be only the first contact. Fitting that He introduced Himself the first time; I suppose that’s only polite of a person the first time they speak to someone. I want to note that this is the time in my life when I went from blind faith, struggling not to give up believing, and actual seeing/knowing faith, like doubting Thomas. By the way, you might find it interesting how I reacted to this: I became an atheist. Yeah… That didn’t work well for me. I had always wanted to be a cartoonist and obviously a mysterious voice in my head saying what it did and addressing itself as God is just a little freaky. I REALLY didn’t want to be a missionary back then, to put it bluntly. It was my life and I was very selfish with it. I said “yes” initially, but I ran. I convinced myself that it was my imagination brought on by high emotions at the time because of the movie and that I could do whatever I wanted to do with my life. But I knew that was a lie, so I became an atheist instead. It was the only option I felt available to me to try to block out or ignore what happened. But then God spoke to me again. I remember driving home from high school one day when God started speaking: “No matter how much you deny My existence, I am real. As a matter of fact, I am living inside of you.” I remember refusing to answer the voice (it would be crazy to speak to someone who isn’t real, even if they are speaking to you first) and staring cold and dead at the road and continuing feeling cold and dead throughout the evening. I spent the rest of the day just laying in bed and occasionally staring at my Bible which sat across the room, being very afraid. But that story doesn’t end there and ends up leading me to being subpoenaed by a cop and a trial before I ever return to God and admit He’s real; by that time I am 18 years old. I’ve decided to start a blog or write a book about these things. Maybe I’ll delve further there. What happened though is that God allowed things to run their course until I needed Him. Bad. But, anyway… Throughout the next 10 years I have seen God do some amazing things in my life, and in the lives of others, especially these past 2 years. I hear from Him every now and then, even replying to questions I have about what He thinks about something as mundane as my SuperMilo webcomic (obviously no crazy new revelations. I’m not a false prophet or anyone who’s ever going to start some crazy new denomination or church sect or anything). But things just seem to fall into place! Completely unrelated events suddenly become incredibly and amazingly intertwined and connected with each other. The events mesh together so tightly they’re like puzzle pieces! So much in fact that “coincidence” seems absurd at times. I can look back and suddenly make sense of events. Why they happened and why they had to happen then and in that way. Because one thing happened, it either prevented a disaster or leads the way for another event to fall neatly into place. What seems like a loss or horrible thing is proven later to have been exactly what was needed for something even better to occur. I’m sure you’ve seen these kinds of things or heard about them. They’re interesting, but not always necessarily any proof of divine providence. But because I’ve experienced it, especially in the past 2 years, I know exactly what it means to have a personal relationship with God/Jesus Christ. He’s a God who actually occasionally speaks back to us and is constantly working in our lives! He has a plan for our lives and it’s incredible seeing it all come together! I think it was in Jeremiah that He said to a certain people, “I have plans for you. Plans to give you a hope and good future.” I’ve only recently started being open with others about how God spoke to me when I was younger (which is I think a good thing that I waited). I was afraid to as I feared most people would think I was either crazy, lying, trying to use it as leverage or proof of some sort of false authority I had, or having a “holier-than-thou” attitude. But it’s not because of who I am or anything I’ve ever done or will ever do or become, but because of who He is that He chooses to talk to us and have a personal relationship with us! That’s just how much He loves us and wants to be a part of our lives. I’m nothing special; He could if He desired to start talking to just anyone anywhere at any time. And since I stopped being afraid to share what God has done in my life, I actually found out that this is actually more common than I thought for God to speak to or work in the lives of His children. It turns out that most Christians are just too afraid to talk about it, just like me. I actually found out that my best friend and fiancé have had similar experiences. My fiancé even experienced the same weight I did and it didn’t lift off until she said “yes” too (this was actually her salvation, she says, and the question was to let God in and to start that relationship; amazingly this was the same month I started sending her messages online to ask her out; to which her first reply was an entire year later, the same month). Ah, but that’s not my story to tell. Anyway, sorry that I drifted off topic and wrote a very long post. I think I will use it to start writing my blog. I get very passionate about these things and lose myself in my writing. I’ve been thinking a lot about these things lately, which didn’t help.

But I believe the conclusion is this: the video is very nice to some people. I like it. But I feel that it perhaps doesn’t capture what it truly means to have a personal relationship with God. You have to experience that relationship before you can truly understand it. He doesn’t leave us down here to fend for ourselves alone. He’s with us every step of the way and when He chooses to He even talks to us, making our prayers two-way instead of one-way. This relationship begins with trust, which is the foundation of even human relationships. Earlier we used a definition of religion that I memorized and paraphrased through the years. Now I’ll get the definition of a relationship from the web (ala “define: relationship” in the Google search bar):

 

re·la·tion·ship/riˈlāSHənˌSHip/

 

Noun:

1. The way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.

2. The state of being connected by blood or marriage.