I have never doubted God's existence, the effectiveness of prayer, or the authority of the Bible. I was reared in a churchgoing family, and such beliefs were as natural as eating and sleeping. At the end of a Sunday school class in sixth grade, I prayed that I wanted to live my life for God.
As I advanced through high school, I started considering different questions. Four things drove my quest.
First, I experienced a growing frustration that there was nothing lasting or final in life. My outlook was often materialistic and achievement-oriented. However, I concluded that there would always be bigger and better possessions to acquire and that achievements would always be surpassed. I was looking for a time when I could stop, rest, and know that my efforts were successfully completed.
Second, during the third of my four years of German study, we spent a significant amount of time studying German history. I determined that, had I been born about 50 years earlier in Germany, I would have been a Nazi. This frightening thought revealed to me that I was morally capable of committing the same sort of evil as those who perpetrated the Holocaust. I knew that my nature was not inherently good.
Third, I was developing an interest in political philosophy. I knew my positions on a variety of issues, but my reasons for those positions were largely pragmatic and utilitarian. I knew there had to be a more fundamental philosophical basis from which those positions emanated, and I wanted to know what it was.
Fourth, during my junior year, I was in a car accident. Neither the driver nor I was injured, but we easily could have been killed if a piece of metal had not held. I knew I was not immune to death, and I began to wonder how I could be ready to meet God. My intuition told me that there was a scale of justice and that the good had to outweigh the bad for someone to get into Heaven. It did not take me long to realize that there was not any basis for quantifying the goodness or the badness of an act. It seemed like there could not be any way to know the weights on the scale, but that did not satisfy me. I prayed for an answer.
On the first day of class in college, some students were conducting a lunch line survey over spiritual issues. I indicated I would like to know more about a personal relationship with God. About two weeks later, a senior made an appointment to meet with me.
When he came over, he shared with me that God had a plan for my life, that my sinful nature kept me separated from God, that Jesus Christ died to pay the penalty for sin, and that each person must decide whether to accept Christ's payment of the sin penalty. The fourth point was what I had been missing. Everything finally fit together for me. I regarded my personal acceptance of Christ as my Savior as the climax to a six-year search.
Over the ensuing weeks, the senior and I went through some follow-up activities, he answered my questions as best he could, I read portions of the Bible regularly beginning with the book of John, and I thought I was growing spiritually.
However, I noticed that my sarcasm and humor were becoming more biting and barbed. I started to question whether I really knew God. So, on a Friday afternoon in December 1988, I prayed that Christ would be my Lord as well.
I eventually started seeing changes in my personal life. My priorities changed. I became aware of my need to be reconciled with certain people and to ask for their forgiveness. I started to understand the moment-by-moment nature of the Christian life, that at any given moment, we must decide whether to obey God or not. I saw ways by which I could encourage other Christians. My view of people in general started to change.
I also needed intellectual assurance that my beliefs were correct. I began reading as much as I could on historical, scientific, and philosophical evidence for the truth of the claims of Jesus Christ and the Bible.
One of the first such books I read was More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell. I later read other books by Josh McDowell (Evidence that Demands a Verdict, More Evidence that Demands a Verdict, and He Walked Among Us), as well as True Spirituality_by Francis Schaeffer. A short book called Scientists Who Believe also gave me considerable encouragement. Among other influential books I read by the time I graduated college were The Fingerprint of God by astronomer Hugh Ross, Eternity in Their Hearts by Don Richardson, The Confessions of St. Augustine, and Ten Philosophical Mistakes by Mortimer Adler. I found that Christianity stood up quite well to rational inquiry.
I do not know the exact point at which I was saved. I do know that what I have learned and experienced as a Christian has verified what I accepted without doubt as a child.
My time as a Christian has had periods of joy and insight as well as periods of despair and confusion. Throughout it all, though, my relationship with Jesus Christ has given purpose to my life and explained why this universe exists. I am continually thankful that my prayer for answers was heard.