I’ve been spending the past two years digging into the evidences for the Christian faith, learning Church doctrine and history. It’s all been great, but cannot compare to experiencing the love of God—nothing can compare to that. All the head knowledge in the world will never compare to the love of God! And you would know this if you had a love encounter with the living God because it changes you—you can never be the same again.All the head knowledge in the world will never compare to the love of God! Click To Tweet
I was 25 years old when I accepted the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. As a young child, my mother took me to church but as the years wore on, and without the support of my father, my mom grew weary and stopped taking my brother and I. God was not a part of most of my growing up. He was occasionally thought of at Christmas and Easter, but even those times became less as we grew older. By the time I hit those testing teen years, I was farthest away from any kind of faith at all. I bought into the mindset that I am the ‘master of my own destiny,’ and to get ahead in this world, it was up to my own strength and hard work. Those are not bad traits, but they left me empty. I did work hard and found myself wondering for what? What’s the point if I work hard all my life and then just die? Why bother working hard to have everything end in nothingness? Click To Tweet
So, I turned to romance to try to make me feel alive, for some sense of meaning or purpose to my existence. That left me brokenhearted. Then I turned to drugs and alcohol to numb that pain. I wrote poetry and in those poems, I cried out to an unknown God to make sense of my existence, to help me find the love my heart longed for. I thought it was going to be some guy I’d meet. It was, but it was no “ordinary guy.” His name was Jesus Christ, and His love was what I had looked for all of my life.
But how, exactly, did I experience God’s love that radically changed my life? It was, at first, through a guy friend I met at college. He was the first man who actually respected me, and instead of turning my head towards him, he turned it towards God. He gave me a Bible with an easy translation (all that I ever owned was the old King James version), and in the front cover, he wrote this inscription: “No one will ever love you like your Heavenly Father loves you.” Was it really that simple?
He said don’t start in Genesis (which I always did before), but read John’s gospel first. This was a kind gesture, and he seemed genuine, so I thought, “What could it hurt?” This was the first dude who really never wanted to use me, which is what I was used to from every man I knew before—it was always about sex. I wondered why this guy was different? Why wasn’t he like all the others? What made him so counter-cultural?
I went home that evening, and opened up the Book of John in the Living Bible translation… “Before anything else existed, there was Christ, with God. He has always been alive and is himself God. He created everything there is—nothing exists that he didn’t make. Eternal life is in him, and this life gives light to all mankind. His life is the light that shines through the darkness—and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (John 1:1-5.)
Something stirred inside me. A sense of truth overwhelmed my mind. This was real! I just knew these words were speaking life to my deadened soul. I began to weep. I went outside, climbed up the hill behind my house, and sat down and wept. I cried for hours up there, bawling my eyes out to God, asking Him to forgive all the stupid stuff I’d ever done. My eyes were swollen by the time I was done, and yet, I felt so much better! There was a sense of peace that overtook my soul and something inside me changed. This was not a lightening moment; I didn’t any visions of angels or anything miraculous like that. But it was enough of a miracle for me to feel a sense of peace inside that I never knew before. I felt loved by this unseen God who told me so in this new Bible I owned. What was this kind of love? Who is this God?
Since that moment 27 years ago, this has been my quest—to know God and to experience this love He has for me—a love that I’ve experienced in many miraculous moments since then. Those stories will have to be told in another blog, or maybe a book; who knows? All I can tell you is that the head knowledge I now have of God will never surpass the love encounters I’ve experienced with my Heavenly Father. His love has changed me, and I’ll never look back.