I wrote this and the two preceding posts for a friend who loves the moon, who is seeking enlightenment:
I believe in Jesus because when I was broken hearted, completely out of hope, he showed up. He: Jesus. In a big way. I know it was Jesus—not the Virgin, or my dead relatives, or Yu-huang (the Zeus of Taoist deities)—because although I would have preferred any of them, when I called for help, Jesus was the only one who picked up the phone.
Wanting nothing to do with Jesus, I avoided him for years. I'm not sure why. I didn't know much about him, actually. He simply bothered me, and he was highly unpopular among my peers. That certainly didn't help his case. Meanwhile, as I ignored him, a pit was forming in my heart. This annoying pit developed, over time, into a gaping hole. My many and varied attempts to patch it up or fill it all ended in failure. I was crying all of the time, for no reason. It was nutty, but I knew it was a God thing.
Always an excellent student, I did my research. My quest for God and inner peace took me to the spirituality and self-help aisles at Barnes and Noble. I read up on various Eastern and New Age philosophies, where I stumbled upon the attractive idea of concocting a personalized god-soup. I threw in a little of my parents' Catholicism, a splash or two from the East, and, as mentioned above, several dead relatives, to whom I prayed quite regularly. All the while, I felt his gentle pursuit. Him: Jesus. He was always nearby, offering peace, smiling and waiting. I responded by throwing rocks. But in my moment of extreme desperation, also mentioned above, there he was, all alone: only Jesus.
We exchanged no words. I did not pray a special prayer; in fact, I didn't say anything at all. I stood still, tears streaming, and let him in. That's it. That's what happened. Meanwhile, inside the seeming quiet minimalism of this event, a bomb went off. In the most glorious moment of my life, darkness turned to light. I saw light. In fact, if you happened to be nearby at that moment, you probably rubbed your eyes, thinking, Good golly, that teary-eyed girl over there seems to be glowing. You'd have thought that, because I was! Radiant me, all aglow. (Everyone's experience is different, by the way. On the other end of this vast spectrum, initial belief in God and Jesus is a slow process: a heart opening to her Creator like a flower, petal by petal. But not for me. Apparently I required a more abrupt approach.)
I had never given much thought to eternity and didn't understand until later that, at that glorious moment, I had found it. All that mattered to me initially was that Jesus gave me my life back. I did not understand that he had forgiven my sins—although, trust me, I was more than penitent—nor was I aware that he had died for them. Died and risen. Nope. All I knew was that I walked into a church as good as dead, and left, alive again. More alive than I had ever been.
I have learned tons about our living triune God (Father, Spirit, Son), having studied the Bible like a maniac ever since my conversion nine years ago, and I believe what I read. I have shelves full of all the proper supplemental books—commentaries, classics, references galore—and, I have read them. (Well, as much as a girl sits down to read her Vines Complete Expository Dictionary... but, you get my point.) I was a member of the Savannah Women's Day class of Bible Study Fellowship for seven and a half years, mostly in positions of leadership. I can define propitiation. Concerning eschatology, I take a pre-millenial stance, although I am convinced that, more than likely, none of us has got it right. (I threw that in, Dear Moon-Lover, not for you, but for another friend who has me pegged, theologically, as a hack.) I can't say I remember everything I have learned, but I'm a good note-taker and can probably find what I'm looking for, as soon as I'm able to pin together five consecutive minutes, between grading projects, writing my novel, and packing Gray's lunch for school.
Despite countless hours of diligent study, it's the application that matters. Belief without behavioral support is meaningless, and even harmful to the cause of Christ. What could be worse for one's Christian witness than hypocrisy? I am laughably far from perfect, but I do try to live by the words of this book that I've come to love. Here's the kicker: When I alter my behavior according to what's written in my bible—even though it often gives advice that can only be described as couner-intuitive—I am blessed. Loving my enemies results in me getting blessed. Responding to harshness gently, blesses me, too. It's all so upside-down. Jesus is upside-down. I love that about him.
I'm a very emotional girl, dear friend; my world-view is guided not by logic, but by how I feel. I feel Jesus through his Spirit alive in my heart as I read and study and apply his Word. I feel him when I hear stories of how he works in people's lives. I feel him calling me to repent when I make wrong choices (daily; hourly). I feel his peace descend like a blanket as I pray. And, when I open my eyes, I see him working all around me.
This is why I believe.
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. ~ Acts 4:12 KJV