Questions: Why?

I haven’t received any questions this week, so I thought I would take the time to answer the question as top why I of all people considers himself a Christian. I really wanted to focus on the philosophical reasons as to why I believe in and follow Christ but I realized that those reasons would mean nothing to you if you don’t know my story. For some of my readers I may be rehashing information that you already know but for others who are new readers I think you will appreciate knowing where I am coming from. My story can be best summed up with a quote from Fyodor Dostoyevsky

 

As for myself, I confess that I am a child of my age, a child of unbelief and doubt up to this moment, and I am certain that I shall remain so to the grave. What terrible torments this thirst to believe has cost me and continues to cost me, burning ever more strongly in my soul the more contrary arguments there are. Nevertheless, God sometimes sends me moments of complete tranquility. In such moments I love and find that I am loved by others, and in such moments I have nurtured in myself a symbol of truth, in which everything is clear and holy for me. This symbol is very simple: it is the belief that there is nothing finer, profounder, more attractive, more reasonable, more courageous and more perfect than Christ, and not only is there not, but I tell myself with jealous love that there cannot be. Even if someone were to prove to me that the truth lay outside Christ, I should choose to remain with Christ rather than with the truth.

I was born 35 years ago on Nov 2nd 1977, I was originally due on Oct 8th but there were issues with my birth and my mother was in labor with me for almost an entire month. I don’t know how I survivve the birth, I probably shouldn’t have but it’s a miracle that I did. Because of the trauma I suffered I develo9ped various disabilities, most of them having to do with fine motor skills. My eyes didn’t work right and I had 2 surgeries by the time I was 5 to correct them. I was also born with a high functioning form of Autism that we now know as Aspergers Syndrome but back then we didn’t really have a name for what I had.

I had many problems going through school, I was abused by my peers and even by my teachers. I had a difficult time staying focused on school work and I rarely did homework, partly because I had trouble with writing and partly because I didn’t understand the concept of doing school work at home. So starting in the 1st grade I had teachers who believed the best way to handle the issue was to withhold lunch from me until I had the daily work done. This caused me to obsess over food for I hated the pain I felt when I was hungry. I would come home and eat until that feeling went away. I went from being a skinny kid to being fairly chubby. I was also bullied by other kids for various reasons, mostly because instead of playing with other kids I would go off by myself and walk around in circles flapping my hands around. This was the first time I ever heard the term retarded and I spent quite a bit of time wondering if that was truly what was wrong with me.

We didn’t go regularly to church when we were kids but we always believed in God and Jesus. I remember getting saved when I was 12 years old, I had gone with friends to a Christian concert and I participated in what is known as an alter call. I said a prayer known as the sinner’s prayer and I accepted Jesus as my lord and savior. This would not be the last time I said such a prayer but more on that some other time.

Throughout Jr High and High School I was a dedicated Christian, my family even started going to church. I was baptized the same day as my mother and brother. Also throughout Jre High and High School the bullying had continued and in  many ways had gotten worse. I was begining to lose my self esteem, I was beginning to see myself as my tormentors saw me. I started having issues with anxiety and depression. My Senior year was the worst, for most of the year I didn’t feel as if I had any friends and I would spend a lot of time in my room alone. I was even losing interest in band and choir, things didn’t seem to matter as much as they used to. This was the first time I seriously considered killing myself. I even began to think that God hated me, that he created me to be a big practical joke and I began to wonder if I was going to go to hell. My poor brother didn’t have it much better, he had Epilepsy which not only caused seizures but also caused him to act out in many ways. It caused him to be violent and he had very little impulse control. In many ways the only thing that saved us both was each other.. We had become best friends.

Then on August 27th 2001 at the age of 26 my brother was accidentally killed in a car accident. This was the final nail in the coffin of my faith which started to fail me back as early as high school though I fought for it for a long long time. I couldn’t understand how a God could allow something so horrible to happen to someone who loved him so much. I didn’t know if there was a God anymore, there certainly wasn’t a personal God and if there was some sort of being out there I knew that I didn’t want anything to do with him. All following him did for me was cause me pain, I became deeply depressed, I was drinking and smoking pot as much as I could and in many ways I just wanted to die. My weight had ballooned all the way up to around 360 lbs and I didn’t care. I resigned myself to enjoy as much of the pleasures of this life as I could for as long as I was alive. I met a girl online and we started dating but I wasn’t ever really in love with her nor was she in love with me. We even got married but it never really took. I was messing around with women on the internet and she had a guy she knew move in with us as a roommate. After 2 years of a miserable marriage I left my wife at the time and started having an affair over the internet with a girl who was also married. She had told me she was being abused and I gave her every reason to leave her husband and be with me but she never did and that was the 2nd time that this life almost killed me.

I was fed up, fed up with life, with God(if he even existed) and with all of the pain I had gone through when things started to slowly turn around. I happened to meet my wife Corrie on the internet one night, just a total chance meeting. There was obvious chemistry there and we been talking to each other every day since. I moved her to Tucson to live with me which was against her conservative parents wishes but we didn’t care we both found something we needed in each other. I asked her to marry me and she said yes. That’s when everything that I had never actually dealt with finally bubbled to the surface. THe bullying, the loss of my brother, my issues with faith, all of it. I started having panic attacks, big ones. I had always had the occasional panic attack but these started happening every week, sometimes more than once per week.  Even worse than the panic attacks was the constant feeling of dread I had, I was worried about everything. I thought that it was just the wedding I was worried about but even after Corrie and I got married they didn’t stop. I finally had to get on medication to calm me down but there was still turmoil in my life. I lost 2 jobs because of anger issues I was dealing with. I thought that falling in love with the right person would fix every issues I had in my life. What else needed to happen?

It was around this time that I started having honest conversations about God and faith with my wife. I asked her candidly what it would mean to her if I gave faith another try and she said it would be really important to her. I made her no promises except to check some things out and so we started going to churches. The first church we tried was too big, too…. ‘church-y’ for what I needed so we kept looking. After reading Blue Like Jazz and seeing the type of church that Don Miller was a part of I knew that was what I needed to find, something missional. I did a search for missional churches in Tucson and found 2, Revolution and The Village. I told myself I’d try them both out and see which one I liked the best. I went to The Village that next week and I still haven’t been to Revolution.

I’ve been going to The Village now for 3 years and I have learned so much about God and myself there. In those 3 short years I have become a drummer in the worship band, a member of the leadership team. I lead a bible study, visit people when they are sick in the hospital, cry with those who grieve and pray alongside everyone who asks me to. I cannot begin to discribe the difference in character that I have noticed in myself, I am far from perfect but day by day I am becoming more and more Christ like. My marriage is stronger, it will be 5 years this August. I have less demands about how life is supposed to be and more longings for how I can better serve those that are around me. God has put it on our hearts to move towards foster care and adoption and more and more each day I see myself learning how to be a pastor, perhaps of The Village someday or perhaps I’ll be called to plant my own church. I will be preaching my 2nd sermon ever this July, I cannot believe that me the guy who hated God and never wanted anything to do with him is doing the things I am doing now.

If you were to ask me why I am a Christian there are 2 reasons I can give you. #1 is because looking back over my life it’s obvious to me that someone has been guiding it all, that the things that have happened could not have happened by chance. It would take more faith to believe that than to believe that God is orchestrating everything. The 2nd reason is the resurrection. The more I look at the evidence, the theories that surround the evidence, I am convinced that there was a Jesus and that he was raised from the dead. Next week I will go into more detail for those reasons. For now it’s my prayer that my story has helped you in some way. I hope you will find the furious love of God for you, somewhere in my story.

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