A Believing Heart…Believing in God

In matters of religion, a skeptical mind is not a higher manifestation of virtue than is a believing heart

I’m not going to lie. Somehow, I have always known that there is a God and believed in Him and in His ability to help me. I have sensed Him in my heart and I have seen Him all around me: in nature, in loving relationships, in the solutions to life’s problems that seemed to be handed to me. I know that not everyone has that experience.

Though I know that not everyone believes in God or has a believing heart, I also know that virtually everyone born to this world questions at one time or another if there is a God.

I believe that my life is a testimony of his existence. Even if you exclude my near-death experience, there are just too many “directed” events for me to brush a belief in God under the carpet. If I had never had a near-death experience, I have found the “needle in the haystack” far too many times to ever question God’s existence!

In that light, I share today’s story. I love Marilyn’s story. I also love that she trusted her heart and recognized the tangibly intangible moments that she shared with God. I hope you enjoy!:

How an Atheist Found God

A personal account from an atheist who was convinced no god exists, and what facts led to God.

By Marilyn Adamson

Religious people seemed annoyed by my question, “How do you know that God exists?”

Perhaps they wondered about my motives. Or maybe they had no idea how to answer. Most of their responses were, “Well, you just know.”

I wasn’t trying to be difficult. But I certainly did not “just know.” And I was hoping someone did!

After many months of this, I thought, “Here are the people who say they believe in God, but no one knows why!” It was like learning the truth about Santa Claus. It seemed obvious that God was completely fabricated. Maybe some people needed to believe in God but clearly there was no proof. No objective evidence. I came to the most stark conclusion…God did not actually exist.

I held this belief for years, not expecting it to ever change. But then I met someone who caused me to become interested in the possibility of God. She was caring, kind, and very intelligent. It bothered me that someone that intelligent could believe in God.

She talked about God like he was her closest friend. She was convinced he deeply loved her. I knew her life well. Any concern she would take to God, trusting him to work it out or care for her in some way. She would tell me, quite candidly, that she was merely praying that God would act upon her concerns. For over a year, I regularly saw what seemed to be answers to her prayers. I watched her life through a myriad of circumstances, and her faith in God was unwavering.

So, I wanted to believe in God on one hand, because I admired her life and her love for others. But I couldn’t believe in something against my intellect, against my better judgment. God did not exist. A nice idea, but that was all. Wanting something to be true, doesn’t make it true.

During this time I was developing a personally built philosophy.

I tried something that I’m not sure many people do. Every few weeks, I would study a particular philosopher’s take on life …Nietzsche, Hume, Dostoevsky, Sartre, Plato, etc. and then try to apply it to my own life. I was looking for the perfect, workable philosophy for life. I found over and over, that either their philosophies seemed lacking, or were too impractical to implement. But I kept searching.

I was challenging my friend with every question that came to mind about God. I would find myself writing out questions late in the evening. This went on for well over a year. One day she handed me a book1 that briefly answered questions like, is there a God; is Jesus God; what about the Bible. It presented facts. No comments like, “you have to believe.”

I saw some evidence for God that was solidly logical. The parts particularly convincing to me were the chemical properties of water and the earth’s position to the sun. It was all too perfectly designed, too perfectly put together. My faith in “nothing behind it all” seemed weaker than the possibility of God. I had fewer reasons to be certain of nothing, and more reasons to conclude that God might be there.

I then encountered a situation that fully challenged my current philosophy on life. What I had been putting my faith in proved to be completely insufficient. It shocked me to see that I was at a loss for an approach to life that was fully reliable. However, the situation resolved itself and I moved ahead. I have a pretty steady personality. Throughout my life, I never really felt “needy.” No on-going crisis. No big gaps or struggles. And certainly nothing I felt guilty about.

But the concept of God was something I couldn’t get off my mind….was he there? does he exist? maybe there’s a God…..

One night I was talking to my friend again, and she knew I had all the information I needed. She knew that I had run out of questions to ask. Yet I was still trying to debate. In one clear, abrupt moment, my friend turned to me and said, “You know, I can’t make this decision for you, and God’s not going to wait forever.”

And I immediately knew she was right. I was playing around with a very important decision. So I went home and decided that I was going to decide. I was going to either ask God to come into my life, or I was going to end the subject forever and never allow myself to consider the possibility of God again. I was tired of dealing with this decision. I was tired of thinking about it.

So, for the next three or four hours, I reviewed everything I had read and observed. I evaluated it all.

I concluded that the evidence for God was so strong that it made more sense to believe in God than to believe he wasn’t there. Then I had to act on that conclusion.

I knew that just intellectually concluding God existed, was way too light. It would be like deciding…airplanes exist. Faith in an airplane means nothing. However, if you need to get somewhere and an airplane is the way, you have to decide to act and actually get on the plane.

I needed to make the decision to actually talk to God. I needed to ask him to come into my life.

After a few hours of thought I addressed God, “Ok you win. I ask you to come into my life, and you may do with it whatever you’d like.” (It seemed reasonable to me, that since God exists, God had every right to influence and direct my life, if he wanted to.)

I went to bed and the next morning wondered if God was still there. And honestly, I kind of “sensed” that he was. One thing I knew for sure. I immediately had a huge desire to get to know this God whom I now believed in.

I wanted to read the Bible. When I did, it seemed that God was spelling out who he is and how he viewed this relationship with him. It was amazing. What really surprised me is how often he talked about his love. I hadn’t expected that. In my mind, I was simply acknowledging God’s existence. I had no expectations of him, but as I read the Bible, he chose to communicate his love to me. That was a surprise.

Now, my basic, skeptical nature was still there. The first few months or year, I would ask myself, “Am I really believing in God? And, why am I?” And I would methodically review five objective reasons why I believed God existed. So my “faith” in God did not rest on feelings, but on facts, on reasons.

To me, it’s like the foundation of a building. The facts/reasons support my faith. It’s like someone driving across the Golden Gate Bridge. They can feel whatever they’d like about the bridge. But it’s the construction/design/materials of the bridge itself that allows them to safely get from one end to the other. In the same way, the objective reality of God–the logical, historical, scientific reasons to believe in his existence, are important to me. There are people who don’t seem to need that. But I hate being fooled, and I have little regard for wishful thinking. The substantiating reasons for God’s existence mattered to me.

My Experience, Part 2 – Further Evidence of God

Since that time, now that I’ve been a Christian for a number of years—-why do I now believe in God? What reasons do I have for continuing to believe in God?

I’m not sure any of these are going to be believable to you. But I’ll try to put that concern aside and be candid with you. Previously my questions were about God’s existence. After beginning a relationship with God, I saw additional evidence that God is real. Such as…

1. When I have questions, concerns, or would like insight on a matter, God speaks to me through the Bible. What he shows me is always perfectly suited to my question, and a better, more satisfying answer than I expected. Here’s an example.

One day, my schedule, deadlines, and obligations were crawling up my neck and tightening their hold. You know that feeling when you’re so overwhelmed, you don’t know what to do first?

So I got out a piece of paper and pen, and asked God: “Just tell me what you want me to do, and I’ll do it.” I was fully prepared for shouldering 100% responsibility, and was basically asking God to just set the priorities, tell me how to approach it all, and I would.

I then opened my Bible and immediately read where Jesus was talking with a man who was blind. Jesus was asking him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

I read it again. Jesus asked: “What do you want me to do for you?” Rather amazed, I picked up my pen and began writing an entirely different list…to God. This, I have found, is characteristic of God. Reminding us that he is there. That he cares, and he’s capable.

I choose that example because it’s brief. But I could cite hundreds of examples where I was asking God a question and he perfectly, thoroughly answered me. It probably is the characteristic of God that I most appreciate and value–that he is willing to answer my questions.

This isn’t something I learned from other Christians. It’s just how my relationship with God operates. I ask a question, with an attitude that I really want to give him freedom to tell me whatever he wants to….to correct my thinking, to point out an area in my life that isn’t right, to show me where I’m not trusting him, whatever. And he always graciously speaks to me.

2. Similarly, when I need direction for a decision, he gives it. I believe that God cares about our decisions. I believe he has a plan for our lives, that he cares about who I marry, what kind of job I have, and some decisions smaller than that. I don’t believe he cares what toothpaste I buy, or lots of mundane decisions. But decisions that will affect my life or what he wants to accomplish through my life…I think he cares.

When has God given me clear direction?

One time I needed to decide about a trip to the Middle East. There was risk involved, and I was willing to go only if God wanted me to go. It was important to me that I knew what he wanted.

Two different times I asked God about a job. Both times his leading on it was so clear, that anyone watching would have concluded the same. Let me try one thin slice of an example.

During my senior year of college, I had decided to take a job with a Christian organization after graduation, that would require a move to California.

It was Christmas break, and I was now visiting my parents. One evening, I was alone and thinking through a long list of friends. I was wondering who I could talk into moving to California with me to be roommates. One person named Christy, came to mind, who had already graduated and settled in a job in Iowa. I thought she’d be the perfect roommate, but I hadn’t talked to her in several months. Just 30 minutes later, at my parents home, Christy calls me on the phone.

Her first sentence was, “I heard you are taking a job with this Christian organization.” I was floored because I had only told one friend, in Ohio.

Her next statement was, “Ok, I’ve got the pots and pans and dishes.” I said, “WHAT?!” She was moving to the same town in California and was calling to see if I would room with her.

Ok, so you see my point.

You might ask, why such a big deal, to even need God’s help in this decision? I knew that my parents would be completely opposed to this job. I thought it might cost me my relationship with my parents forever. So it was not a light decision. I asked God to guide me toward what he wanted. And he did. There were about ten other events related to this job, just as clear.

Other reasons I still believe in God…

3. In terms of explanations about life–why we’re here, what the purpose is, what is important in life, what to value or strive for–God has better answers than anything I’ve ever read anywhere. I have studied multiple philosophies and religions and other life approaches. What I read in the Bible, what I see from God’s perspective, all the pieces of the puzzle fit.

There is still a lot I’ll read in the Bible and close the Bible saying, “I don’t get it.” So I don’t mean to suggest I fully understand everything in the Bible. Instead, I’m saying that life only makes sense from the perspective of what God has revealed. It’s like reading the operating manual to life on earth, only we are not left to merely follow the manual. The inventor is explaining to us how it all works, and then offers to personally guide us through it, on a daily basis.

4. The intimacy with God is deeper than intimacy with any human being. I say that married, with two children, and tons of very close friends. His love is perfect. He’s incredibly gracious. He takes me right where I’m at, and as I said, speaks to me. He intervenes with actions that leave me amazed as the observer. He is not a belief or doctrine. I see him act in my life.

5. He has done more with my life than I would have done on my own. This is not a statement of inferiority or lack of self confidence. I’m speaking in terms of accomplishments that far exceeded what I ever had in mind. He provides ideas, direction, solutions, wisdom, and better motives than I could aspire to on my own.

Story shared from the following website: http://www.everystudent.com/wires/atheist.html

 

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The Holy Ghost…the Gift We Receive

We will never be prompted by the Holy Ghost to do something we cannot do Richard G. Scott

The story I share today reminds me a little of my near-death experience. The details do not match but the feelings of beauty and awe do.

My near-death experience helped me to understand how great the gifts are that God gives to us. It also taught me how much we tend to underestimate and neglect the gifts that we are given.

One tremendous gift that is available to us, as we live lives with a connection to our Creator, is the gift of the Holy Ghost. We may not have that gift continuously but it can speak to us nonetheless.

Those moments when we sense that heaven’s angels may be speaking to us; those reminders that seem to “pop” into our heads, ideas that suddenly come to us, or feelings that inspire us are usually just that! Angels in the form of deceased family members, friends or those yet to be born often assist us. Though we probably don’t remember it, we most likely did the same for them!

We each have been given at least one if not more wonderful assignments to accomplish while we are having this mortal experience! I hope that you are listening to your heart and that you are endeavoring to fulfill the personal tasks you, uniquely, have been commissioned with! As we each work to manifest the life that we were created to fulfill, we contribute to the overall success of God’s work on this earth!

True happiness comes as a result of our connection to and relationships with God. I know that most of us don’t remember how well we know Him or how familiar we are with Him. However, I also know that our hearts consistently speak to us of Him as we keep them open and receptive. If the windows of heaven could be opened for just a few minutes, those brief glimpses of heaven would change our world and our understanding of it’s purpose! This world is not an accident and neither are we!

It is my prayer that you will know of the love that God has for each of His children – ESPECIALLY you! I hope you enjoy today’s story!

The Dream

 I always used to ask God to show me how to live faith ….. It’s already a few years since I had a very significant dream, which is vividly imprinted in my mind and in my heart forevermore. No doubt it was an answer to my prayers and it made me feel so deeply cared for and loved! The dream:

“I climb up a rather high mountain together with many other people. We walk in silence on a narrow path, in a row. I understand that we are pilgrims, when I see a church far away high up on the mountain, beautifully “set” on the horizon. I am full of expectance. I love the mountains and I enjoy the view and the peaceful climbing. When we reach the church and when everybody is inside, I immediately notice a Priest who shuts all the doors in what seems to me a definitive manner. He blocks the doors nailing pieces of wood on them. Instantly I feel claustrophobic and ask the Priest to please open the doors again. I don’t like to be closed in, I feel uneasy, I want to go outside again, but there is no reply from the Priest. I look around and there I see a staircase. I run up the stairs and indeed I find a little door which opens to a balcony and I step out: What I see in that moment is so immensely moving! I see a beautiful green valley stretched before my eyes (it does not seem the same valley we have come from). At the end of this valley there is a golden city. Everything is so extremely brilliant and beautiful that my heart fills with a longing so strong that I can hardly bear it. I’m overwhelmed and stand there in utter awe for quite a while. Then I do not resist anymore. I cry out, I want to go there, I feel within my heart that the Place is like Paradise. It’s as if from the shining town a voice called me, “come, come, here is beauty, here is love, here is peace “. ….. Then I hurry downstairs shouting “How can I reach the place I’ve seen from the balcony? There is a golden city! Please open the doors …” Nobody answers and I feel deeply frustrated for being closed in. Then I find myself standing right in front of the Altar with a little golden Tabernacle. The Tabernacle is beautifully decorated. While gazing at the Tabernacle I suddenly become silent and I feel at peace. In that moment I hear a beautiful voice saying “You know the way, I am the way, there is no other way to reach the place you’ve seen ….. come through the Tabernacle, this is the only way”. The Voice vibrated softly in my heart. My reaction to the “invitation” was strange. I thought “the Tabernacle is too small to get through, I’ll never manage ……..”.

The dream ended and I woke up just in that moment when I was doubting to make it “through” the Tabernacle.

I remembered vividly everything and finally, my heart strongly pounding, I understood.

JESUS had told me that HE WAS THE WAY! HE IS THE WAY to perfect joy “perfecta laetitia”! And I remembered the words He said to His disciples during the Last Supper “Do this in memory of Me…..”. The Holy Eucharisty! …. The Tabernacle!

Since I had this wonderful dream I approach the Holy Eucharisty in much deeper awareness that JESUS TRULY IS THE WAY.

WRITTEN BY MARGHERITA RUEGER

Story shared from the following website: http://godslittleacre.net/inspirationalstories/the_dream.html

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Life with God…Is a Path to Peace

Life with God is not immunity from difficulties, but peace in difficulties   C.S. LewisI know that it might sound crazy but life can be PEACEFUL in spite of challenges and problems.

Life will never be free of challenges…at least for very long!

Challenge and growth is the thing that life is meant to be made of!

It has been my experience, that as I have made a continual place for God in my life, He has blessed me peace and strength no matter what the storms are that sweep through my life.

I hope that continual peace will be a part of your life!

I hope you enjoy today’s story!

Finding Peace Underwater by Brooke Obie

Have you ever been away on a trip only to be consumed by the worries you thought you’d left behind?

On a press trip to stunning Cap Cana, Dominican Republic, I found myself on the balcony of a suite at AlSol Tiara overlooking the ocean–and completely unable to stop thinking about family troubles back at home. My uncle had been the victim of a violent crime and was recovering in the hospital. My grandmother, who’s been in hospice for months, seemed to worsen with the news of my uncle’s hospitalization.

I’d tried to pray, let it go and enjoy the beauty that surrounded me on all sides on this magical island I’d never visited before. But whoever said, “you can’t pray and worry,” hasn’t met me; I’d gotten the contradictory act down to an art as our press group visited Blue Marlin restaurant where I dined on anxiety and the best seafood risotto I’d ever tasted. Worry followed me up on stage as our group sang “Lean on Me” together at Al Sol’s karaoke night. It trailed behind me as we hiked through Cap Cana’s natural theme park Scape Park and it waded in the spring water next to me when I took a dip in the park’s magical cenote.

I knew there was nothing I could do to heal my uncle or my grandmother any faster, and as I watched the sun set over the waves from my room each night, I could feel the enjoyment of my trip away from the city rolling out to sea. I tried to clear my mind with meditation, my favorite form of prayer, to ease my worry.

In the warm night air, listening to the calming sounds of the ocean, I sat still, closed my eyes and tried to concentrate on the sound of my breath. Breath is God’s first gift to humans, the evidence of life. If I could only focus on my breathing, on that precious gift from God, I’d have no space in my head to be overcome with worry. I fidgeted the whole time, unable to sit still. After about 2 minutes of trying, I got up from the balcony, left the roaring waves behind and called to check on my grandmother again.

On the last day of my trip, our press group went out to sea for a boat cruise. Our tour guides had found a spot in the middle of the ocean, far away from shore that happened to only be about 6 feet deep. We stopped there to do some snorkeling. I put on my gear and dived into the water. Instantly, my ears filled up with water, blocking out all sound. The only thing that echoed in my ears was the bubbling of my own breath. I watched the bubbles form in front of me and became far more fascinated by them than the tiny coral ecosystems we were swimming over. I stared in awe at the bubbles, my ears were filled with the sound of my breathing.

Finally, underwater, my mind was clear, my worry evaporated, and I was filled with the kind of gratitude that brings peace. In those unexpected moments of meditation, all I could do was surrender. All was well and all would be well. I still had breath in my body and so did my uncle and grandmother. That miraculous gift was enough.

Story shared from the following website” https://www.guideposts.org/better-living/travel/finding-peace-underwater

 

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All About Heaven…Things You Need to Know

If we find ourselves with a desire  that nothing in this world can  satisfy, the most probable  explanation is that we were  made for another world   C.S. LewisHave you ever felt homesick for a place when you can’t even remember ever being there? Have you ever felt homesick for heaven?

Prior to my near-death experience, I would feel homesick from time to time for something that I knew existed though it seemed like I was homesick for a dream. I know now that what I was homesick for was heaven.

I understand the reasons behind our heavenly amnesia – we would all be incredibly miserable if we had full recall of the heavenly home that was ours before mortality. I also understand that despite God’s loving protectiveness over our past memories, our hearts still have the ability to sense the realm that we once were a part of and that we are invited to return to.

As Pierre Teilhard de Chardin so aptly said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
I hope that your heart speaks to you of heaven and our Creator. I promise you that they are real. This life is a precious growth opportunity! I hope you will cherish each day you are given to grow and to learn! And I hope that God will be a part of each of those days!
Please enjoy today’s story!:

The Hand Of God

By Joseph J. Mazzella • April 23, 2013

I think that most of us go through our days here with our eyes half-closed because we so seldom see the Hand of God working in our lives. It happens in countless ways every single day. Let me give you an example. Two years ago several of the Hawaiian shirts that I love to wear had become worn and threadbare. I really wanted some new ones so I saved any extra money I had for several weeks to pay for them. Finally, I headed to my favorite clothing store with a large denomination bill in my wallet to buy them.

When I got to the store I saw a local charity collecting money for the poor. I reached in my wallet for a five dollar bill to help them out. I grabbed it and dropped it in the bucket. As I let go of it, however, I noticed that it wasn’t the five dollar bill but rather the large denomination one that I had saved to pay for my new shirts. I went back home disappointed at my mistake, but I quickly made peace with it. I knew I could wear my old shirts for a while longer and it felt good knowing I was helping to buy food and clothes for people in desperate need.

The next week I stopped by the local Goodwill store to make a donation when I noticed several Hawaiian shirts brightening up the clothing racks. I went through them and picked out enough to last me a long while for a fraction of the price I would have paid for new ones. It made me laugh and smile when I realized that God had given me all I needed and also helped me to help others as well. I thanked Him for guiding my hand and for guiding my heart that day.

Saint Francis of Assisi said: “While we have time, let us do good!” Do all the good you can then in the days you are given here. Give all the help you can. Share all the love you can. Spread all the joy you can. Scatter all the sunshine you can. Utter all the truth you can. And don’t be surprised if the unseen Hand of God sometimes helps you out along the way.

Story shared from the following website: http://www.sunnyskyz.com/feel-good-story/173/The-Hand-of-God

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If Any of You Lack Wisdom…James 1:5

If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God, that giveth to all men  liberally, and  upbraideth not;  and it shall be given him   James 1:5

I learned in Heaven that God is completely perfect and without flaw or lack of comprehension in any way. He truly has all wisdom, all knowledge, and perfect love and understanding.

I also learned in a way that mortality seems challenged to convey, that God desires to share His abundance and attributes with us. Mankind tends to be inherently selfish. God is inherently giving. That doesn’t mean He is willing to give us everything we want. It does mean that He wants to give us everything that we need.

Both mortality and heaven have taught me that when we need (want) assistance from our Creator, the best way to get it is to ask. I have also found that the closer I bring my life and my intentions to God, the more help I receive and recognize.

If it feels like your relationship with God is strained, or needs a little lift; I hope you will take a few minutes to talk to Him. Don’t tell him the things you think He wants to hear – share your heart with him. He knows you perfectly and He knows what you need.

He will answer – not always in the way you want or expect – but He will answer!

May His blessings be an abundant part of your life!

I hope you enjoy today’s story!

A Call From God

One Saturday night, a pastor was working late and decided to call his wife before he left for home. It was about 10:00 PM, but his wife didn’t answer the phone. The pastor let it ring many times. He thought it was odd that she didn’t answer but decided to wrap up a few things and try again in a few minutes. When he tried again, she answered right away. He asked her why she hadn’t answered before, and she said that it hadn’t rung at their house. They brushed it off as a fluke and went on their merry ways.

The following Monday, the pastor received a call at the church office, which was the phone that he’d used that Saturday night. The man that he spoke with wanted to know why he’d called on Saturday night. The pastor couldn’t figure out what the man was talking about.

Then the man said, “It rang and rang, but I didn’t answer.”

The pastor remembered the mishap and apologized for disturbing him, explaining that he’d intended to call his wife.

The man said, “That’s okay. Let me tell you my story. You see, I was planning to commit suicide on Saturday night, but before I did, I prayed, ‘God if you’re there, and you don’t want me to do this, give me a sign now.’ At that point, my phone started to ring. I looked at the caller ID, and it said, ‘Almighty God’. I was afraid to answer!”

The church that the pastor attends is called Almighty God Tabernacle.

Story shared from the following website: http://varietyreading.carlsguides.com/christian-stories/call.php

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