I grew up in a small town in the eastern part of Oregon. After living for several years in Indiana, Scotland and Colorado, I arrived in Ames, Iowa in the fall of 1986. I've been at Iowa State University ever since.
When I came to Ames I was a functional Atheist. But God got my attention through a series of personal trials and I became a Christian in 1992. Here is how it happened.
When I was growing up I went to church and Sunday school on a regular basis but I didn't understand who Jesus was. I didn't understand why He died on the cross and I didn't understand that I could have a personal relationship with him. I didn't understand what any of this meant for my life.
When I went to college I quit going to church. Sunday morning was a good time to sleep in. After I graduated from college I got married and I had two children, Eric and Tracy. During this period the focus of my life was on myself and my career. Additionally because of my science background, I began to question whether God even existed.
Then in the early 1980's, my personal life began to fall apart. I went through a period of about 10 years when my life was just a mess. My marriage broke up and my kids ended up living with their mom in Florida. I got married a second time but that marriage was a disaster and didn't last. At the end of that period I found myself living alone and very much afraid of relationships. I began to feel that there had to be more to life than what I was experiencing. Also I began to realize that my life might be more than half over and I began to worry about what was going to happen when I died.
Then the Lord led me to a Christian singles group. Over the next year through going to church, reading the bible and through fellowship with friends in the singles group I came to understand that God loves me and wants to have a personal relationship with me. However I also learned that I fell short of God's perfect standard through my actions and attitudes. God calls this sin and it is a barrier to my relationship with him. Most importantly I learned that there is a solution to this problem. Jesus Christ, God's son, died to pay for my sins thus removing this barrier to my relationship with God. I still had questions about how science fit with my faith in God, but I considered that unimportant compared with the peace and joy that came from knowing Jesus. In September 1992 I prayed with my pastor and invited Jesus into my life at age 46.
Knowing Jesus has made a huge difference in my life. When I look back over the last 15 years I see that my life has changed in remarkable ways. The Lord brought a wonderful woman named Denise into my life and we were married 15 years ago. God has blessed Denise and me with a son, Isaac and he restored my relationship with my two older children, Eric and Tracy.
Even more importantly than that, God has given me a new perspective on life and a new way of living. I know now that I am on a journey and the focus of that journey is not me, but Jesus Christ. This journey is about growing in my relationship with Christ and about glorifying him through my service and my relationships with others. I am not alone on this journey but Christ is with me, He leads me. He comforts me and gives me hope in times of trouble. He gives me power to accomplish things that I could not do alone. Whereas before I struggled with relationships, now my personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the knowledge of his unfailing love for me is the foundation for all my relationships. Whereas before my future looked bleak, now I have the wonderful hope of spending eternity with Jesus.
I want to close by sharing a favorite passage of mine from the Bible that expresses what God has done in my life:
Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits ' who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's (Psalm 103:1-5).
I am so grateful that God redeemed my life from the pit and crowned me with His love and compassion. I pray that you would also come to know God's great love and the abundant life that he offers.
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