Sam Matteson

Every decision has its’often unanticipated’consequence; every twist or turn of the track has its own dimly seen destination. Father’s Day eve 1999, I made a fateful decision that forever changed my life and the way I walk through it.

It was a small thing. ‘I’ll lean the ladder more steeply against the house so I can paint a few feet higher up,’ I said. I fell.

I fell to the concrete ten feet below. In a second, in a heartbeat, I had broken’indeed, nearly broken off’my right foot.

It is not true that your whole life flashes before your eyes when you are in mortal peril, but it is true that your priorities change and your focus narrows, diverted from inconsequential distractions. As I lay bleeding on the patio, I had a conversation with God.

On my side it consisted of a groan. For His part, God spoke to my spirit. I did not hear an audible voice. (I am informed that they give Thorazine for that symptom.)

Rather, it was a gentle whisper in my spirit’s ear, that to my conscious mind was like observing someone else talk on the telephone and knowing without hearing what the other party is saying. And what did God say? Four words in question: ‘Do you trust me?’

I thought for a moment and then in a flash reviewed my pilgrimage: how that before I understood much theology I knew God and loved Him; how at the age of nine I realized that that friendship could be and had been broken by my willful rebellion, but that I could set things right by laying down my arms, surrendering and letting God be sovereign.

I remembered also how, as a teenager, I examined minutely the intellectual legitimacy of a child’s faith and became convinced that Jesus showed by his character who God is and how by him we come to know God, not just as a concept but as an intimate Father.

I was persuaded then and later that the way of Joshua of Nazareth is a reasonable and meaningful life. I recalled how God had interacted with my life, time and time again, leading me and giving me strength beyond my mettle.

My life had not been without pain or disappointment before but through it all I could look back and see God’s hand on me. I saw my Heavenly Father, never surprised, never caught unprepared, but always waiting with what I needed at every twist and bend of the road. So, at last, I said aloud, ‘Yes! I trust You. You have proven Yourself faithful.’

The days and weeks and years that have followed that day have confirmed my affirmation. God can be trusted. Whatever life throws at us’and there have been and will be many things that I do not welcome or understand’we can be sure of this: God is there. God knows. God cares for us.

The most important thing in life is knowing God; it is not belonging to a religious club; it is not acting pious; it is not knowing about God. Rather, it is actually knowing God, Himself, as you might know your foster parent.

There is nothing that is secular in life for a child of God. God is potentially present in every conscious act. If you look for God you will find Him if you really are seeking Him with all your heart. You see, God is looking for you, even though He knows where you are.

It is a choice, an act of the will. Can you sincerely say, even if you are skeptical, ‘God, if you exist, I am willing to trust you if you will but reveal Yourself to me?’

If you will willing seek Him, then He will be found by you. He is not playing hide and seek. He is only waiting for you to want Him. This is my testimony, my “matyrion.” This is the evidence of my life; I am witness to the power, to the presence and to the compassion of God.

When someday I come to the end of my life among you, I will trust God for the unseen future, not because I have a vision of a glorious afterlife, but because He is trustworthy. He knows me and He loves me’anyway.

Though I now walk with a limp, I glory in this journey. Though I know pain, I know joy, as well. Though there is much that I do not understand, I am acquainted with the Almighty who understands all.

That is enough to put, haltingly but resolutely, one foot in front of the other and take the next step and the next and the next on this long, winding road of uncertain destination that is filled both with pain and with joy and with a glorious, unexpected hope.

My Life

  • Friends describe me
    Passionate, creative, funny, and kind
  • Hobbies
    Writing, reading, hiking in the mountains, singing
  • Fantasy dinner guests
    C.S. Lewis, Neils Bohr, and John Polkinghorne
  • In college I drove
    foot! I walked, until I married a Chevy-owning woman
  • Worst school subject
    Conversational German
  • College for undergrad degree
    Baylor University
  • Favorite books
    The Faith of a Physicist by John Polkinghorne; Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  • Favorite movies
    The Pawn Broker
  • Favorite coffee
    Venti (Non-fat) Latte
  • If I were not a professor, I would
    be a (published) writer
  • Latest accomplishment
    Finished a non-fiction book about growing up in L.A. (Lower Alabama) in the 1950's and 60's
  • Quote

    "Meine Lebensgeschichte ist meine Verteidigung--My life is my argument" Albert Schweitzer

University of North Texas


  1. Sam Matteson Retires | NT Fellowship - May 1, 2014

    […] To read about his spiritual journey, please visit his page on […]

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