One constant in my life has been the hunger to know the truth. My interest in science was driven by this hunger to know how things really work. My interest in mathematics was driven by the satisfaction I felt when I had unraveled a challenging problem and found its hidden answer. And so it is not surprising that in college I chose to major in a field of engineering in which I was able to use the truths of science and mathematics to analyze and design complex systems.
As I was growing up, my parents nominally followed the Jewish faith and raised me to do the same. For several years I attended classes at my temple that were to prepare me to complete a Bar Mitzvah ceremony at age 13 and from then on practice the Jewish faith.
But during this time I began to have questions about why we did things the way we did. What was the origin of these customs? How did we know they were what God wanted us to do? As time went on, I became skeptical, especially as I read portions of the Old Testament and saw significant differences between modern Judaism and the faith of those Israelites from ages ago.
In high school and on into college, my thinking moved from agnosticism into atheism. I became convinced that all religions were man-made traditions built on exaggerations and lies. I became proud of my “enlightenment” and arrogant. I remember being handed a Christian pamphlet as I walked to class and I “profoundly” thought that these people were all so foolish and misguided; I also remember wishing that there was some way I could help them become free from their rituals and superstitions.
And then I entered graduate school and almost immediately became good friends with several people who said they were Christians. At the time I struggled with feelings of loneliness and inadequacy. These friends also had their struggles, some much more serious than mine, but they exhibited joy and peace in their lives, things that were completely lacking in my life. As our friendships deepened, they explained that it was their faith in Jesus, and more than this, their ongoing, living relationships with Him that gave them their joy and peace.
Although still skeptical, I was more open to what they were saying than I had ever been in my undergraduate days, and I started to read whatever they gave to me. The first book I read was “The Hiding Place” by Corrie ten Boom, a book about Christians who sheltered Jews in World War II and eventually paid for these acts of compassion by being sent to concentration camps themselves.
Seeing how these people lived by faith in Christ and became willing, even happy, to lose their own lives for the sake of doing what they said that God led them to do was very challenging to me. I knew that I was a selfish person and was not willing to die for anything, let alone for helping total strangers.
One of my friends at this point gave me a Bible, and I was sufficiently “softened” at this time so as to actually begin to read it. At first I was skeptical, saying “this can’t be true,” or “what nonsense,” but as I continued to read I became less and less sure of myself. I eventually began reading the New Testament and was blown away.
I was amazed at how the New Testament made sense of the Old, how many seemingly strange events in the Old were in fact hints or “shadows” of things to come in the New, and I was left without a “rational” explanation for how dozens of detailed prophecies in the Old Testament were fulfilled by Jesus in the New. And beyond all this, I was captivated by the thoughts and actions of Jesus Himself. His wisdom, His compassion, His miracles – all of it challenged me to my core.
As I continued to read the Bible as well as other books, I came to the point that intellectually I believed the Bible was true. But I also saw that it was not enough simply to believe; the Bible made it clear that I needed to enter into a relationship with God, asking forgiveness for my sins and, in effect, handing over the reins of my life to Him. One night I finally did this; I still had questions, and I remember praying like the father in the Bible with a sick child who said “I believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” – but God answered that prayer, and the next morning I began to experience personally that joy and peace I had seen in my friends.
These events happened more than 20 years ago, and I have gone through many challenges and trials since then. But I am more convinced than ever that the Bible is true; in fact, the deeper I dig, the more I am amazed and awed by its powerful truths. And I am more convinced than ever that God is real and that He knows and loves me.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” – Jesus