Acceptance means everything to me. My earliest memories are of my quest for acceptance. In junior high I admired another junior high student with a reputation for being cool. He hung out with his older brother and his brother's friends. That's it, I thought. I will hang out with Dave and people will admire me also. Dave could only take a few days (or was it hours) of me following him wherever he went. He told me to stop bugging him.
As a freshman in high school I hung out at the local bowling alley, the teenage meeting place. Older kids would meet there, pitch in money for alcohol, and then go party. That's it, I thought. I'll party with these cool guys. Finally, one night they needed more money for alcohol. They finally asked me if I had money and if I wanted to go drinking with them. I said yes and a pattern was set for high school.
In my early twenties I noticed that my friends were getting married. They seemed to all be very happy in their new families. That's it, I thought. I'll get married and live happily ever after.
At work, my fellow employees were being recognized for their job performance. That's it, I thought. I will spend my time and effort pursuing my career. I enjoyed the accolades I received.
In my thirties, I still did not feel accepted. My marriage and career were not bringing me the acceptance that I desired. Not even my MBA and Professional Engineer license were making me feel accepted. Maybe if I had more credentials, people would accept me. That's it, I thought. I'll go back to school and get my Ph.D. in Engineering.
While working on my Ph.D., two wonderful sons came into my life. I thought that attending church would be beneficial for my sons. Also, church is a good place to meet other nice families. Little did I know where this new direction would take me. I enjoyed the church that we attended. The people were very nice and they did not embarrass me by asking questions about my faith. The sermons were sometimes interesting, but in my mind I knew that Christianity was about how we lived today. I thought that the Bible was full of myths and folklore. Surely, people didn't take the Bible as a historical document.
However, after months of exposure to Christians I began to question my beliefs. Why did Christians put so much faith in the Bible stories? Didn't men who wrote about legends as a way to illustrate the moral lifestyle also write the Bible? And wasn't the Bible written for people who lived 2,000 years ago in a different culture? Also during this time, I began wondering why so many successful people in history were Christians. Some of the famous Christians include the composer Johann Bach, the scientist Sir Isaac Newton, and the English novelists C. S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien. I began questioning my own skepticism. Also, all 44 US presidents claimed to be Christians. What was I missing?
My Christian friends invited me to hear a man speak about Christianity. This man described how at one time he thought Christians must be "out of their minds." I can relate to that, I thought. This man told of how he used to make caustic remarks to Christians and argued against their faith. But eventually he saw that his arguments did not stand up to the truth. He himself became a Christian and he became a speaker on university campuses, challenging those who were just as skeptical as he had been.
This man was Josh McDowell and he had written the book, ''More Than a Carpenter" to answer the questions of skeptics like me. On the day I heard him; he challenged the audience to read his book and then gave everyone a copy. The day I heard Josh McDowell and read his book was the turning point in my life. Josh appealed to my intellect. He showed me that beyond any doubt, Jesus was God and Jesus did indeed rise from the dead.
I believed that Jesus was a great moral teacher who was executed by the Romans. I believed that his disciples invented stories about him being God after his death. However, history clearly shows that Jesus was executed for claiming to be God. Josh asked, ''Was Jesus Lord, liar, or lunatic?" I find the evidence clearly shows that Jesus is who He said He was.
Another aspect that Josh brought to my attention was the motive of Jesus' closest followers. If they invented the lie about Jesus' resurrection, why would they face torture and death for their lie? All except one of the apostles died martyrs' deaths. I can understand people dying for the truth, but who would die for a lie?
Josh's simple yet powerful logic ignited a desire to learn more about Jesus, the Bible, and Christianity in general. I found what other Christians already knew, the Bible isn't legends and myths -- the Bible is God's word. I had always believed that life on earth came from the Creator. However, I wasn't always sure who this was. Through further study, I found that not only was God our Creator, but He communicates to us through the Bible.
Once I knew the truth of whom Jesus was I wanted to know why Jesus had to die. The reason is that God is both a God of love and a God of justice. God loves us and created us to know Him personally. However, because God is just and we are sinful we became separated from God. God demonstrated both His love and His justice by sending His Son Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in our place to pay the penalty of our sins. Finally, we must accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord to know God personally and experience His love.
Since Josh's presentation, I have learned many other truths about God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Where once I was drifting, not knowing which new goal to pursue, I now have direction in my life. Oh, what a sense of peace this gives me.
I finally found it. My whole life I was searching for acceptance. I have found perfect acceptance through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Our language is totally inadequate to even to try to describe the peacefulness that comes with being accepted by the Maker of the universe. Now that I found what I was searching for, am I always happy and never sad, angry, jealous, or depressed? No, I am not perfect. But when I do fail in keeping God's commands, I know that I am forgiven. He is the God of never ending acceptance.