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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Cynicism is an Intellectual Cop Out…There is a Better Way

Cynicism is an intellectual copout, a crutch for a withered soul, a thin excuse for inaction and retreating commitment. Do not become cynical; be appropriately concerned and actively involved.

Cynicism is an intellectual cop out,a crutch for a withered soul, a thin excuse for inaction
and retreating commitment. Do not become cynical; be appropriately concerned and actively involved.    Jeffrey R. Holland

There is a lot of cynicism being thrown around in our country right now. I believe in the quote by Jeffrey R. Holland. That is why I used it for today’s meme.

I understand concern. I understand differences of opinion. I understand a desire for leaders to see the world as we see it. I also understand that the solution to every problem, concern or care in this world is God.

I wish that I could share the memories of my near death experience with the world. In it, everyone would be blessed to see that God is real and His love is perfect and ever enduring. Everyone would see His infinite and complete perfection and understand that the key to all happiness, joy and true success is to make God an integral part of all we do and align our choices and actions with His unchanging truth.

The world is imperfect and we are imperfect but the greater the effort of mankind, as a whole, to choose light in this world, the more we will receive peace, safety, and joy. As Dieter F. Uchtdorf said: “When God works through us, No One and Nothing can stand against us.”

I hope you enjoy today’s story which was shared by Hugh Downs!:

Hugh Downs on Overcoming Cynicism

One morning on our Today show we reported on a group of teenagers whose demonstrations had shocked their community. In the faces of the young people pictured on the screen I saw a total rebellion against authority.

“That could have been me 25 years ago,” I said to myself.

It started me thinking back to the age of 14 when the change within me occurred. Up until then I had accepted without question the patterns my parents had set. Then slowly I began to see things through a haze of contempt and rebellion.

Perhaps it was partly because I stood first in my class and took great pride in my pseudo-intellect and glib tongue. Success, I concluded, was all that mattered.

As captain of my own ship, I decided that I needed help from no one. Sensitivity to need and concern for others were, to me, signs of weakness or guilt. I had a theory for everything.

Since a great percentage of those in my home town of Lima, Ohio, were church-going people, I divided them into two neat groups: the ones who used church once a week as a cleansing ritual, and the others who attended church with the thought, “I want to be on the winning side in case there is something to all this.”

So I argued that all churches should be abolished because they stood in the way of faith. I theorized that a man can worship God as he sees fit—where and when he chooses. And if he doesn’t choose to, that is his privilege too. (I didn’t choose to, by the way.)

My name for this theory was “Reverse Piety.” It sounded very smart to me.

But as a working philosophy of life it was to prove more and more unsatisfactory. Actually I should have known better.

My father was a Methodist, my mother a Baptist, but in a spirit of early ecumenicity they became Episcopalians when they were married. Time after time they showed their concern for others.

For a while, my father and a partner ran an auto accessory store. When they went into the red, the partner declared himself bankrupt. My father and mother decided that there was a moral as well as a material obligation involved. He took a job and over the years paid back every penny he owed.

I resented it since it meant there was no money for me to continue college. I had to quit after the first year. My bitterness increased when I applied for 26 jobs in a row and didn’t get one.

Then one day I stopped at the radio station in Lima with the halfhearted hope that there might be some kind of job open. They gave me an audition—and to my surprise I was hired as an announcer. The pay was $7.50 a week.

There was hardly any direction to go but up. I was married and a father when one of those experiences occurred which, in retrospect, you can call a turning point.

The radio station where I worked had to cut costs. My job was in danger. Thinking that my boss was looking for a good excuse to let me go, I built up a real dislike of him.

Then one day he called me into his office. To my surprise his manner was kindly. He was concerned about me. And he worked out a plan for me to stay on the job.

Something happened inside me at that point to chip away at the crust of cynicism I had built up around myself. I thanked him for his thoughtfulness, then said impulsively, “You do this for me when all the time I have been hating you because I didn’t think you wanted me here?”

My boss said calmly, “Why don’t you try to get outside of yourself, Hugh? If you do, you’ll tap a source of spiritual and physical energy that will make you feel inexhaustible.”

I chewed that thought long and hard. The words were certainly not new, but now they had meaning.

For a time I had been examining other faiths, from Judaism to Buddhism and Islam. Each has much to offer. Inevitably I came back to a reexamination of Christianity.

While pondering questions of faith and systems of philosophy, I was moving from radio to television, from Ohio to Chicago and then to New York. The years passed. I worked with Kukla, Fran and Ollie, with Sid Caesar, Jack Paar and the Today show.

As success came I followed the pursuits I liked: astronomy, boating, flying, celestial navigation, music. They can satisfy body and mind, but they leave the spirit unfulfilled. Yet, answers to my quest for faith were coming and piece by piece, like putting together a mosaic, the picture was taking form.

An actor contributed to it. I don’t even know his name. But he was in a very successful play and he was asked how he could possibly remain fresh after giving the same performance, day after day, 700 times.

“The audience hasn’t seen the play 700 times,” he said. “It’s a new play for them every night. If I thought only of myself I’d be stale by the 10th performance. But every night I think of the audience instead of myself and they renew and refresh me.”

Last year I sailed across the Pacific in a small boat. It was immensely satisfying to navigate that distance, even though I had a fall during the voyage that injured my spine. Back home, doctors said it required surgery.

I was taken to the hospital in a wheelchair. The operation was a success and I walked out without any help. Yet the experience added something to me.

First, the ordeal was neither fearsome nor intolerable though from the outside it seemed so. Second, there was always someone along the corridors whose troubles and pain were worse than your own. Cheering them was not depressing or morbid, but just the opposite. You got outside yourself.

At one time I served on the Citizens’ Advisory Committee of the New York State Mental Health Association. That committee was scheduled to make one of their regular visits to patients.

I would have ducked going, if I could. I couldn’t. In our car pool the driver of our auto was a rabbi whose sense of compassion interested me.

At the hospital we walked through the clean, neat rooms. Two very disturbed boys caught our attention. One was 13, the second, perhaps two years older. The older one said very little. The younger one said nothing at all.

As the rabbi talked with them I asked a nurse, “What hope is there for these boys?” She shrugged her shoulders. “Very little,” she said.

As we were leaving, I looked over my shoulder and saw the younger boy sitting on an oak bench, all alone, staring into nothingness, the picture of endless despair.

“That boy,” I said to the rabbi, “looks very much like my own son. I can’t help it, but I’m glad—” I was starting to express thankfulness for the fact that my son was normal.

“I know how you feel,” he interrupted. “That boy is my son.”

It was days before I got over the shock of that experience.

The picture of the rabbi not only ministering to his own son, and to all the afflicted in that institution, but also moving to save me embarrassment is still vivid before my eyes. For in his agony he had learned to lose himself in his concern for others.

This was what my parents were trying to tell me as they scrimped and sacrificed to pay off a debt that was moral, not legal. It was what my boss at the radio station was saying to me when I was 22; and it was what the actor meant when he talked about playing one role 700 times.

Different people were getting the message to me, but it took a long time before I really heard and embraced as the heart of my faith the words Christ uttered to His disciples: He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Shared from the following website: https://www.guideposts.org/better-living/positive-living/emotional-and-mental-health/guideposts-classics-hugh-downs-on/page/0/2?nopaging=1

 

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Where Are You Willing to Go?

willing to go   bridge-19513Perhaps the hardest thing that a truly meaningful life requires of us is turning our hearts and our lives over to the One who knows and loves us best. What a blessing it is to know that wherever we are and wherever we have been – we can always change our path and make improvements. No one changes in one giant leap. Successful change starts in the heart and then continues step by step. Often a leap of faith is required but where a leap of faith is required the Lord’s arms are everlastingly extended to us to catch us. He never fails us as we place our trust in Him.

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