Obviously, I hang out with atheists. I talk to them on facebook, I talk to them at my gym, and I talk to them when we are at atheist meetings. A common question that has come up often is "Victor, you seem to be intelligent and rational minded so how can you possibly believe in a God?" I have been asked the question enough, that I have decided to write a blog about my spiritual journey so I don't have to keep telling the story.
I don't know exactly when my conversion officially began. By all means, I have no business being a christian. My parents never took me to church. The only time I remember going to a church when I was in my parents home was if somebody was getting married. My mom and step dad weren't even married in a church. I do remember a time when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade that my aunt was taking me to church. I had a little Bible but I never read it. I made sure to bring it because if you did, you got a candy bar. At some point in my youth, someone gave me some Bible story books. I remember being fascinated by the stories and I read them over and over again. I remember being sad when I read the story of Jesus and saw the picture in the book, with Him being on the cross. I really enjoyed those stories but I had no idea they were contained in that little book I brought to church that got me candy every Sunday. Like I said, I never opened my Bible. My aunt taking me to church didn't last long because we moved but I think I went for about a year.
I didn't have any experience with church again until my senior year of high school. I had a girlfriend whose family was very into going to church. I went to church with her, but it was like going to the dentist. I wanted nothing to do with church or anything religious. I only did it to make her parents happy. When she got her license she wanted to start going to the early service and her parents were glad that she was taking the initiative to go to church on her own. They did not know that I had convinced my girlfriend to skip church so we could go have sex. And thankfully, they didn't ever ask the Pastor if he actually saw us in church.
And those 2 paragraphs describe the extent of church and religion, as far as I can remember, in my childhood. I did not grow up in a home where church, God, or the Bible, was forced down my throat. I was truly allowed to make my own decisions when it came to religion.
When my wife and I got married, we were both 18 years old. Religion was not important to either of us and we didn't go to church. We didn't have an interest in Church, God, or religion. My wife had grown up in a very religious family. But she grew up in the hypocritical, judgemental, double standard, religion that most atheists (and christians for that matter) despise. She had a couple of family members who were pastors and she had been told some of them stole from their churches. She witnessed double standards where her family would tell their church to "NOT" do something like watch TV, but then would have a TV in their home for the sports and other shows they enjoyed. So needless to say, my wife and I are were on the same page with religion. We just didn't need it.
That all changed when our first son was born. I was in the Marines and was on deployment. We were on a ship, patrolling the Philippines and did not have phone contact. When my son was born, my wife was not able to tell me that he was born completely blind. He had been born with no optic nerves. They did an MRI to make sure and there were no optic nerves. Nothing was attaching my sons eyes to his brain. My wife didn't know what to do. She was 19 years old, we were new on the base, so she didn't have many friends, and I was on a ship, somewhere in the middle of the South China Sea. For some reason, Jenise found herself in a small baptist church. Nobody invited her. Nobody suggested it, and she hadn't even been able to talk to me about it. But she went in and talked to the pastor. He asked her if they could put my son at the front of the church during service. They prayed for my son and the entire church layed their hands on my son and asked Jesus to have mercy on my son and restore his vision. He was about 3 months old at the time. When my son was 6 months old, he gained vision in his left eye. Our Doctor said he couldn't give us a medical justification for it. He said it was like a person being born without an arm, and then one day, and arm just decided to grow. After everyone left, the Doctor told my wife he was a chrsitian and although science didn't offer a reason for my sons sight, he knew my son was given his vision by God. I can't explain why God chose to give my son sight.
Fast forward about 8 years to the year 2001. We casually went to church and never even considered getting "involved" with church. We wouldn't volunteer, but we would occasionally drop a ten or twenty bill in the plate, once in awhile. I was out of the Marines and quickly climbing the corporate ladder. I was working 7 days a week and even had a personal record of working 87 days in a row without a day off. I was a "company man." To make a long story short, my wife left me. She took our kids and went to California to stay with family. While she was gone, I didn't know what to do. I couldn't work, I couldn't eat. In fact, in 3 days, I only ate 2 bites of cocoa puffs cereal and 4 cheetos. (I was obviously not into health at that time) On the third day of no food, I felt an urge to read the Bible. I had never really read it so I had no idea where to look for advice or guidance. I opened the Bible and it was at the book of Ephesians. For the details on what happened when I opened that chapter, read my article on My Personal Testimony. I felt like God was reaching out to me. Some of my atheist friends have asked me, "Why don't you follow Thor or Zeus, then?" The answer is because I never felt a "calling" from them. All the times I felt God "calling" on me, I responded, and it was real to me. Some atheists get annoyed when I say things like "I felt or it seemed right" because they aren't scientific and you can't "prove" them or reproduce them in a lab. I get that, but then again, that's why I describe my faith in God as "personal." I really enjoyed Rob Bell's description of what a person may experience with God in regards to "feelings" and "hunches."
These are just two examples of things in my life that brought me to God. I have about 20 or more "coincidences" where the solution to the problem always seemed to lead to God. I wasn't forced into my belief, I didn't get it from the Bible. In fact, I was going to church for several years before even reading the Bible. My spiritual journey was very personal for me. It didn't include family, church, or the Bible. And that is why I can understand people who don't believe in God. They didn't have "my" experiences. They didn't see the things I saw, they didn't see the things I heard and felt, but mostly, they didn't see the changes in "ME" that occurred as I became more involved in God. I was not a good person before God was in my life. A common atheist argument is that they can do good without God. I always say "Good for you. I couldn't" If it wasn't for my faith in God, I would not be married today. It wasn't until I surrendered my ego and my pride that God began to change my heart and make me into the man that my wife needed. It wasn't easy and it didn't happen over night. But it was real for me.
I do not intend of this blog to convince any atheists that God is real. I know this blog won't do that and some of you will even be rolling your eyes and laughing at me as you read this. The purpose of this blog was just to give some insights on why I believe the way I do. As I stated earlier, I can completely understand why an atheist doesn't believe in God. You can look at the evidence for God and completely dismiss it, if there is no personal experience to go along with it. I think that is why I can relate to atheists and engage with them so well. I don't have a problem with their lack of belief. Especially, with the history that christianity has. But that is between them and God. I will never try to "force" my beliefs on an atheist because that didn't happen to me. I will never try to make them feel "small" because that never happened to me. I was allowed to come to my own conclusions and I will always give atheists that same respect. If they have questions I will do my best to answer them, but if the questions are too technical I might refer them to someone more knowledgeable than me. I am not a Bible scholar. I am just a man who had his life changed, and has a story to tell about it.