Monday, May 22, 2006

The Ride of My Life: Conclusion

If God does indeed exist, is it not fair to assume that the feeling I have described for my daughter here is similar to the feeling He has for us? Wouldn't God be willing to jump in front of a train for us? Did He? Why would his love for us be dependent on our love for Him? Is it?

St. Augustine's Confessions is one of the more influential books of all time, and it begins with a prayer. In Chapter II of Book One Augustine speaks to the presence of God throughout "heaven and earth," and states, in effect, that no container could ever contain him. He is present everywhere, at all times. When I drove to my office from the mall that day, I was not hit with a blinding presence or a bolt of lightning, I merely acknowledged that God is present, here on Earth, and in my life. It was time to stop pushing Him away. The further I drove the more I felt the truth of this acknowledgment, and I became more and more excited. I could feel layers of pride washing away. I could feel a burden lifting from my shoulders, and the relief was palpable.

Finally, I pulled into the parking lot of my office. I looked at the window of my office. I put my head in my arms on the steering wheel of my car and started to sob. My experience was quite similar to the experience described here. I cried uncontrollably for what seemed like an hour, but was probably more like a few minutes.

When I lifted my head out of my arms, I was a Christian. God had jumped in front of a train for me, and now I would accept that gift of grace and love Him in return.

On a sunny Alaska day in 1992, a tale of two architects was thus complete.

* * * * *

[One year and ninety-nine posts ago, I started this project with the following statement: "I began adulthood as avowed atheist, and today, 25 years later, I have accepted that God came to this earth in human form to redeem mankind, to offer mankind the gift of salvation. The purpose of this blog is, among other things, to recount the path of these developments, and through an honest recounting, explore issues relating to such a transformation." Having accomplished the expressed purpose of this "tale," this is my last post.

I wish those who have stopped by or followed along the very best, and welcome any thoughts, comments or correspondence at May God bless you and your families.]

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Ride of My Life-2

I have spent the last few days on a family car trip, with my wife and 5-year old daughter.

These kinds of trips allow for the observation of our daughter for extended periods of time. I get to go swimming with her, take walks with her, read books to her, watch her react to new events and stimulus, and see her grow. These trips are like self-imposed signposts that interrupt the continuum of everyday life. I haven't mentioned this before, but my wife and I were married 10 years before our daughter came along, and there was a time when we assumed, alas, that we could not have our own child. Perhaps this makes us appreciate her even more.

This is one way a child teaches the meaning of love: I find that I actually love our child more as each day passes. There must be some limitless quantum of love available to me for her, because every time I think I have "maxed out", a new day comes and she does something more adorable or unique or intriguing (or maybe nothing at all) and I find myself filled with even more love for her than I thought was possible. Perhaps love is a recognition of this evolution of feeling, and a recognition that the word "quantity" does not apply.

Like any worthwhile parent, I would jump in front of a train for this child.

And, like any worthwhile parent, my love for this child is not dependent on her love for me.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Ride of My Life-1

After having spent an hour or so in the mall I decided to shut the book and drive to work.

I have mentioned before that C.S. Lewis, one of the foremost defenders of Christianity in the 20th century--certainly in the overall Pantheon of apologists to come from that very first Easter Sunday--once described his coversion to faith in the following way: "In 1929 C.S. Lewis found himself challenged with God’s existence. This important milestone in his conversion journey was reached rather suddenly. As he tells the story, on one occasion during this time he happened to take a bus ride. When he got on the bus he was an atheist. When he came to his stop, he got off the bus believing in God’s existence. Not that Lewis was seeking God. He said he didn’t really want to find him. The revelation about God’s existence was something of a fright to him. He wrote in Surprised by Joy: "Amiable agnostics will talk cheerfully about ‘man’s search for God.’ To me, as I then was, they might as well have talked about the mouse’s search for the cat." "

In much the same way, God came to me on my ride from a mall on my way to work during an Alaska Spring in April 1992.

I have racked my brain for the precise thought process or "tipping point" on that drive, but must candidly admit that I am at a loss to explain it. I just remember that when I got in my car that morning I was still on the fence, and by the time I got to the parking lot of my office, a fifteen minute drive later, I was not.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

God's Presence-3 (cont'd)

I woke up on Saturday morning on a mission to find More Than A Carpenter, and to start dissecting it once again. My wife was in Europe, and, although I had some minor details to attend to at work, I had the entire day to devote to the task at hand. I also had a slight hangover to contend with, as I had been out with a couple of pals far too long the night before.

After breakfast, I went to the fairly meager bookshelves of our apartment for the book, and couldn't find it. The more I looked for the book, the more disappointed I became, so, after a time, I went to local bookstores to buy the book. No luck on the first or second try. Finally, I went to a mall with one of "B. Dalton" types of bookstores in it, and purchased a copy. By that time, I had spent almost two hours looking for the book, and was anxious to at least take a look at the Introduction.

So, there I sat on an uncomfortable bench in the middle of a crowded mall on a busy Saturday morning, ice skaters playfully circling the mall's ice rink, cheesy Muzak tunes playing overhead, shoppers walking to and fro, and I read about the reasons why someone might reasonably believe that Jesus died on the Cross and later rose from the dead.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

More Regarding More Than A Carpenter

A fair summary of More Than A Carpenter can be found here.

The concepts and arguments addressed by McDowell's book are, de facto, updated by a man named Lee Strobel, and resources regarding Strobel and his books can be found here.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

God's Presence-3

It had been almost six years since I had put More Than A Carpenter back in the bookshelf.

In those six years, I had finished law school, moved to Alaska, and almost died surfing, hunting, and mountain climbing. I was a proud atheist, but was never quite been able to shake the idea that "something" cannot come from "nothing." More important, I had met my wife-to-be, who was a Christian, and we had married less than year before at the time I picked that book from the shelf once again. Given the circumstances of my childhood, I saw for the first time what thinking Christians acted like, and, given my father's death some years earlier, I was blessed with a new father figure in my life, my father-in-law.

My new wife was to take a trip to Europe for a few weeks to meet her sister in April of 1992. My work situation was such that I was able to take a few days off, and while she was off in Europe, I had it my head that I was going to "figure out" the whole Christianity thing once and for all.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Whither Atheism?

One of my favorite readers of this blog sent me an email not so long ago questioning whether I ever really was an atheist, as recounted in these pages. The question was not intended to question my integrity, but more (I think) to explore whether I ever truly left the "fold," so to speak.

In truth, I have never considered this question before, and the reader may have unwittingly or very cleverly asked me to address one of the most intriguing but complicated issues in Christianity, i.e, the issue of grace. Rewinding the events of my "atheist years" in my mind, there is little doubt that I sure felt like an atheist. In fact, during those years, I really didn't think the subject of religion was worthy of any mental effort, let alone the time it would take to reject it. Certainly, I was willing to offer snide remarks and other Inside Baseball remarks dismissive of God, but I really do not think they were a veil for some lingering belief in God.

This view is supported by the fact that, on a specific day in April of 1992, I really did experience the classic "conversion" that nonbelievers throughout the world experience when they accept that God's Son came to earth to restore His relationship with humanity. No, I did not run up and down the aisles of a church or start speaking in tongues; I simply surrendered my pride and gave in to God's grace.

In the next few weeks, I am going to focus on how this happened that day, and try to describe what happened on that day. And then I will completed the purpose set out for this project, and, I hope, will have done so to the glory of God.