There is an aspect of my coming to surrender my life to Christ as an adult on which I have had few occasions to speak in the past, yet it played a tremendous part in the paradigm shift that followed in my life. Years ago, as a new student at a state-funded school, I little supposed that I would encounter God. The increasingly broad spectrum of lifestyle and worldview, the irresponsible and generally self-destructive party atmosphere to which my friends were drawn, and the general animosity of secular academia to an individual’s acceptance (and application) of a biblical perspective should have swallowed whole any credible voice that an orthodox view of Christianity possessed.
Yet a subtle, but ever-growing awareness of the reality of God’s presence was dawning in my life. It was as though He were the rising sun and my back were to Him: I knew Him by both the illumination He brought to things about me as well as the shadow cast by my own form before me. Still, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to look to Him yet, because I knew that if I did I would recognize Him as the Lord of my life and I would no longer be feel free to live life how I saw fit.
Those who knew me at the time or have heard me speak of the experience since know that events were thrown into my path that forced me into a reckoning with the Lord. I won’t mention those experiences here, but suffice it to say that God used unexpected people in unexpected ways to soften my hardened attitude toward Him. In the end, I relented. I surrendered. I chose to believe His Word.
The implications of being truly His were in some ways all I expected them to be. It was complete and irreversible. I was His child forever but I was also His servant permanently. The practical transformation that God began in me launched a process of dismantling my worldview and building within me a new one.
My area of study was initially psychology. Following God’s intervention in my life, I switched (temporarily) to counseling with a minor in Religious Studies. It is now my conclusion that the running philosophy behind a typical state-supported counseling program is that one must find purpose for himself from within himself. And the general strategy of a state-funded Religious Studies program is to deconstruct faith as a rational process and cast it in the light of the irrational, subjective, and superstitious.
Indeed, the majority of professors who taught my religion classes conveyed Christianity (rather contemptuously) as a complex cultural construct with its origin supposedly rooted in the mythologies of various ancient civilizations.
As I listened to them, I was only given arguments as to why one should reject the idea of a loving personal God Who has revealed Himself in the Bible. I was given reasons why it is a silly idea to claim that God yielded Himself as a sacrifice to atone for the sins of humanity.
But Satan, as I have noticed on multiple occasions, overplayed his hand. I recall one of my religion professors, a committed atheist, emphasizing the necessity for the art and practice of critical thinking. It was actually good advice. When I applied it to the teaching presented to me by many of my professors (some of whom were ordained clergy who somehow had given up on God), I began to realize that I was being taught by several people who strove to do what really cannot be done: living in a place of compromise. They sought to dwell in a position from which they could talk about spiritual things in a superficial (but hardly satisfying) way and yet still consort with those they deemed as enlightened by the spirit of modernism. On the one hand, they had a pretense of faith, but would, on the other, sneer at practical application of faith and the “simple-minded efforts” of those who simply tried to live it.
My classmates and I were subjected in those courses by what I now recognize as blasphemy by those who argue away the truth of the Gospel (even if done out of ignorance). This consequently forced me to come to a decision. Either I would believe the Bible and believe that it is, in fact, truly God’s written revelation to humanity… or I would walk away from the Bible and its antiquated claims. If it wasn’t true, then I had no desire to continue a charade. I was not, after all, interested in playing games.
The arguments against the validity and reliability of the Bible turned out to be unfounded speculations masquerading as scholarly thought. They were essentially the regurgitations of minds in rebellion to God’s love and law. The theories I heard and the efforts to explain away the trustworthiness of the Bible were prejudicially presented as fact. Anyone who dared to express skepticism over such skepticism was publicly derided. Many fellow students going into these classes with Christian conviction came out with only confusion and despair.
It seems ironic to me that a principle tool in bringing me to an absolute certainty that the Bible is true was an atheistic professor. After the end of my last term taking a class with him, I received a letter from him expressing his appreciation for some thoughts that I carefully and thoughtfully shared in my final exam. Perhaps the Lord had been dealing with him in the deep places of his heart but he just hadn’t yet taken that step to believing. I fear that perhaps for him, as well as many others today, there just will never be quite enough proof to convince him to trust Christ. Perhaps, however, in the twenty-some years since, he finally decided to believe.
Today, I grieve when I see someone who has some sort of vendetta against truth, especially when he or she throws up the dust of some sort of grossly misconstructed piece of archaeological evidence or philosophy. I grieve that it appears to provide ammunition for those who delight in creating confusion. Sadly, most who are party to this seem to fail to realize the implications of what they’re doing.
“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not associate with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:6-10 ESV).
If you have encountered the Truth, the Person of Jesus Christ, as He is revealed in the Bible, then make the most of the new life to which He has called you. Leave the darkness of life apart from God and live now in the light of His will. Choose to believe His Word, trust His love, surrender to His will.
“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:11-16 ESV).
(Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 23 ½ years, is the author of Led by Grace, The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com”. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)