God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God
> My Story : How I Came To Know The Lord by Pastor Asher
In my younger years I was dismissive and intolerant of Christianity to the point of being arrogant, hostile and even contemptuous. I was raised as an atheist (originally I am from one of the republics of the Former Soviet Union) and was taught to reject faith in God from as long as I can remember. I was however spiritually curious, collecting scraps of poetry as they pleased me, contemplating the meaning of life in general. At one point in my life I stumbled upon a startling insight that my poetry selections, quotes from various books and my insights into philosophy were unmistakably conditioned by my own prejudices, ideas and ideals. I guess I was building my spirituality based on what I believed to be right, true and beautiful and sweeping everything else under the rug. To paraphrase the previous sentence, I was building a “god” who thought, acted, looked and behaved like me. I was making an idol in my own image.
That realization led me to an understanding that I had to submit to a faith that was much larger than I could express at that point of time. I read a lot, dabbed a little into philosophy, but ultimately I did not do anything with my newly found understanding. I enjoyed poetry, fiction, arts, mythology but I did not engage it on a deep level, I merely dabbed at it. When different religions of the world were vying for my attention, Christianity did not even make the lineup. Since I am Jewish ethnically and my ancestors were prosecuted in the name of Jesus for almost two millennia I considered a religion that allowed and encouraged such prosecutions to be narrow-minded, intolerant and inadequate.
I did not become a Christian because someone with a Bible badgered me till it was easier to kneel down, say a few words and get rid of him or her. Logic, doctrine, Christian theology, creeds and hymns had nothing to do with that event in my life. I met Jesus one Saturday morning in September 1985; for me it was a huge surprise. That chance meeting left me feeling crushed, scared and upset.
That morning, driving on I-295 northbound (around West Deptford, New Jersey) for some unexplainable reason I became a believer. To this day (as of late February 2008) I do not have a rational explanation as to what happened. All I know is that one moment I was an atheist (due to my upbringing and training in the former Soviet Union) and the next moment I was a believer. I had a sensation of God. All the patriarchs became very real to me. In a split second I could touch them and talk to them. I knew what they looked like, what they felt like and what they smelled like. I also heard a voice telling me: “WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO FOR YOU TO BELIEVE”. The voice was genuine, intimate, authoritative, and gentle. That voice filled all of me, every fiber of my being. In that spilt second I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was a Christian.
It took me some time to sort it all out. The idea that God existed was against everything that I knew and had been taught up to that point. All of a sudden the framework of my beliefs and the reality of my life were turned upside down. The next few months were pretty hard on me. My ancestors were prosecuted in the name of Jesus for generations. I felt as if I was turning my back on them, on my Jewish roots and on everything that they stood for: preserving their ethnic identity, their faith and teaching their young. I also felt embarrassed because all of my friends knew my anti-Christian stance and I felt like a wishy-washy traitor.
In his novella, The Great Divorce, philosopher and theologian C.S. Lewis came up with the idea that every day a bus crosses the great divide from hell to heaven. Anyone who wants can go, and anyone who wants can stay. The thing is, heaven hurts. It’s too real. The visitors from hell can’t walk on the grass, because the blades pierce their feet like knives. It takes time to grow real enough to endure heaven. It is a process of unflinching self-discovery and repentance; few are willing to endure that process. At the end of the day, most of the tourists get back on the bus and go back to hell.
When I found God that is how it felt; it felt real. It felt like grass that pierced my feet. In that single moment of time I found that God is real and the reality of God IS stronger than the reality of anything else that I encountered in my life before or, for that matter, since then. That reality left me with a great hunger, and now it feels as if my life is leaning towards him like a tree grows towards the Sun. I feel drawn towards Him, I yearn to be in His presence.
This is my testimony. Every believer has a testimony (that includes you, the reader). Some testimonies may be more dramatic than others. Regardless of how unimportant or how incredible your testimony may seem, your personal salvation story will help you find a common ground with an unbeliever someday. You can share with him or her your former life and attitudes before coming to Christ, then explain the changes that came afterward. When an unbeliever realizes that you can relate to his or her own life, he or she may be more open to hear what you want to say.
I want to encourage you to take a moment to think about the changes that have taken place in your life since you found God. Think about:
Tough decisions you had to make in the past.
Things that you had to do that were difficult for you. How did you make through these tough times?
What choices you made in the past that affect how you live today?
What do you hope for?
Whom do you trust and how does it affect your relationship with others?
Where do you hope to go and where are you headed?
You may want to write these things down so that you are ready to share them the next time God opens a door for you and give you a chance to help someone or to lend them your ear to listen or shoulder to cry on in order to ease their emotional pain.
Faith in anything is trust. You are sitting on a chair, and have faith that it won’t drop you to the floor. Trust is established through experience. At some point you were introduced to chairs, and learned that (except in rare occasions) they won’t let you down. Maybe it was scary sitting on the first chair, but then again you have seen others sit on it. In my experience God reveals His character to us, and then asks us to trust Him, to believe His words, to rely on His plans and His guidance. We learn that God does not let us down, and our faith in Him, or our ability to put our trust in Him grows. Faith is a process, and something that moves us to action. Faith is not an intellectual concept. I have faith that there is God. It is possible however to believe that there is God, but not actually allow that to affect your life (like many people who haven’t met God yet.) True faith affects our actions.
Faith in God is something that we nurture and cultivate. He is always ready, able and willing to be in a relationship with us. It is up to us however, to initiate that relationship. I cannot tell you what faith in God will do for you, but I know how it helps me everyday:
Faith helps me to get through tough times. Faith adds meaning to my life in good times. Faith makes it easier to wait for the things that I hope for. Faith helps me to love others because it reminds me that we all are children of God.Faith is a powerful force within us and in our lives. What you believe helps you decide EVERYDAY which paths you will take. God’s Word offers answers and guidance as you make your way through life.