i was told that the only reason I am a Christian is because I was preached to when I was young, and that formed a pattern in my brain. “I was just like you,” Nan said, “I believed all the things I had been taught. But, I started using my mind, and I broke free from the indoctrination .”
This could be so.
i do remember, when I was in fourth grade, our church had a
“Pastor’s Class” that taught us the basic tenets of our particular denomination. For four consecutive Sunday afternoons, we met in the preacher’s office. (There were maybe five of us. My best friend was Earl, the preacher’s son. He was there.) I honestly have no memory of anything said during that time.
But, I do remember, at the end of the four weeks, we all walked forward during church, the preacher asked each of us, “Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and do you now take him as your LORD and Savior?”
I said, “I do.”
The next week, Palm Sunday, we were all baptized by immersion in front of the whole church.
I felt warm and happy.
Now, I could take communion like the adults.
In high school, I joined Youth For Christ because there was a cute girl that I was interested in dating.
I have absolutely no memory of any meetings, any Christian words spoken, Bible studies. I’m not saying they didn’t happen.
I just don’t remember.
But, I do remember that girl rode with me in my car one time.
She wasn’t interested in me.
One summer, a young man came to the door of my house and tried to explain to me how evolution went against belief in God. I laughed at him, and said (I was so smart), “God is certainly powerful enough to use evolution to make the world and everything in it. Time is no problem for him, right?”
In my second year of college, this guy knocked on the door of my dorm room, and asked if he could talk to me.
He showed me a Bible tract, with a picture of a chair with a stick figure man sitting on it, and a chair with a cross on it.
“The man represents you, the cross represents Jesus . Which one of these pictures best illustrates your life?”
I laughed at him. “I am somewhere between those two pictures. Just because it’s printed on a piece of paper doesn’t make it true.” I remember nothing else in the exchange.
I was dating this Jewish girl on campus, and she wanted to go to a Campus Crusade for Christ thing. We sat in the back. I don’t remember a single thing spoken at the gathering. I don’t remember feeling the least bit challenged. But, I do remember, when they started holding up one finger (One Way, Jesus) and calling out the name of Jesus, I felt like we needed to get out of there. We left. I mocked them outside.
I was perfectly happy with my “faith” and I saw no reason to get all fanatical about anything. I was a good person, and nothing touched me at all on a “spiritual” level. I made my own decisions.
I was just like Nan.
Except, no one had yet convinced me that there was no God. I was taught that from my earliest days, and I never thought to question it.
None of these moments I have described made even a slight impact on my life. I only remember then in snapshots, looking back.
I think, I may have been moving in the same direction as Nan.
There is another defining moment that I remember.
That summer, I went home from college, and I was looking through my sister, Elaine’s high school yearbook. She was two years younger than I, and, in high school I had dated girls from her class. You see, I wasn’t real confident in the dating field, and I figured sophomores liked the idea of dating a senior.
“I looked through your entire yearbook,” I told Elaine, “and there was only one girl that caught my eye, that I might like to date. Wendy Wright.” I knew her a little, because I had been going with a girl during my senior year whose locker was next to hers. Wendy had also worked in the snack bar at the Safeway where I worked. She cooked a mean burger. I remember how cute she was in her Safeway waitress dress.
The next day was Sunday, and Elaine was still going to the youth group at our church. Wendy’s friend, Cathy, invited her to this youth group this day, and Wendy (who had never been to that church in her life) said “Okay,”
When Elaine saw Wendy come into the room, she went over and said, “Wendy! Hi! Randy was just talking about you.”
“Oh?” Wendy responded, “ well, tell him to call me sometime.”
And that was the beginning of a new direction in my life.
But, that is Part 2.
“A sower went out to sow his seed. As he was sowing, some fell along the path; it was trampled one, and the birds of the sky ate it up….The seed along the path are those who have heard and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved” Luke 8: 5, 12