History is a big story about people. It’s a story, and not just a lengthening almanac, because it has an Author. We recognize this the same way we tell the difference between a song and noise. It has a beginning, some flavor of continuity, a building conflict, a resolution, and an end.
This is my story. It’s kind of nauseating in some ways. It’s about me very reluctantly learning to let my heavenly Father enjoy being my Dad. I hope you can relate some, but either way, please hang in there.
I grew up in Mayberry – that is a wealthy, professional suburb of Boston. I had a great family. My parents were transplanted Southerners, active Christians, and, after she married, my mom never had a career outside the home.
I got along by getting along – kind of like a chameleon. I was smart, but my friends were smarter. I was athletic, but I rode the bench in high school. Rebelling seemed a little scary and like a lot of work, so I was nice.
I was more mature and aware than my peers in middle school, but by high school their weirdness had become individuality and I was just trapped in being self-conscious.
At my church there were some adults who seemed to be living from a genuine life inside. I wanted that, but not badly enough to do anything about it.
So, my freshman year in college, when everything in life was going my way and I wasn’t seeking God, He saved me.
I hung out with a Christian fellowship only because they were nice and had real (but low risk) fun. One said, “Hey, you want to meet with one of the staff to talk about your faith?” I thought, “I went to the same church for 13 years and the pastor never invited me to have a one-on-one.” So I said, “Sure.”
Carl asked me on a scale of 0 to 100 how sure I was I would go to heaven if I died today. I gave the always appropriate answer of 80%. But somehow I began to realize (that’s the God reaching out to me part) that if I wasn’t 100% then I really had no reason at all and the only other answer was 0%.
He asked if I wanted to be sure. I said, “Yes.” Isn’t that really what everyone wants? Carl explained the How from the same Bible I had grown up ignoring – “Jesus died for you.” was not him proving a point, it was sober deal he cut with his father. You know how grungy, and nasty, and helpless you feel when you think about trying to be close to God? There is a reason for that. Yucky people like us end up being rejected.
But God really did want us home, so he asked Jesus to go and trade endings with us. Our worst fear about how our life ends is not a cultural guilt trip. It’s recorded history. Jesus showed us where we are headed when he was executed publicly. But the nails were not the problem. The problem was the, “My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?” part. God actually rejected him, confirming our worst nightmare. In God’s painstaking love, He put down in writing ahead of time that sacrificial swaps work. One living thing can taking the judgement for another’s wrong (assuming the sacrifice is not already condemned for their own stuff). Fortunately, the Romans and Jews were great recorded keepers so God is tied down to his deal with Jesus to give us the great ending He deserved but gave up.
No one works out their relationship with God. You can only sign on (really sign in) to his family of freed convicts.
I didn’t have an experience, I made a decision – a weak, meagerly informed, often doubted, but ultimately correct decision.
So after awkwardly praying with Carl, not having set out that morning to change my metaphysical destiny, I realized I was so late for PE class that it wasn’t worth going. I didn’t feel any different, except a little weird when other students told me there were angels rejoicing in heaven. But a few days later, I caught myself sticking my neck out to help someone without even thinking about it. I realized my heart had changed. I had been changed.
Since then, Jesus has continued to prove Himself to this naturally skeptical engineer over and over and over.