Over 8 years ago I moved way out to the country with Robert (my now former husband) and our daughter Mahriyanna. We were overjoyed to find a spacious old home on eighty acres of land for only $150 a month. It was truly a miracle.
A few months later, as Robert was driving down the county road with a kayak strapped to his car, Bob Rutz waved him down and asked him where he was going. When Robert informed him that he was going to the river to kayak, Bob told him that he was welcome to use the private lake that was just a few miles from our home for our kayaking pleasure.
This was very exciting for us, because whenever I would pass the lake (which was often) I would think, “Those rich people wouldn’t want us to swim in their lake.” The only houses anyone could see from the road were rather nice looking. Okay, I confess that I was very judgemental!
It ended up that other homes in the neighborhood that we couldn’t see were trailers, smaller homes, and even some people living in an army tent. We ended up meeting many of those people on the very day we visited the lake. After we emerged refreshed from the water on a hot July day, our new friend Bob was there to greet us. Mahriyanna, in her typical style, said, “I’m hungry!” Bob said that there was some food left over at their weekly Sunday potluck, and he invited us to come over, which we did.
Mahriyanna immediately made friends with a little girl, Holly (who she is still good friends with eight years later!) I immediately somewhat jokingly told Sandy and Joan that I was not a Christian and did not want to be converted. They laughed and said they would never do such a thing.
We started attending the informal Sunday services and potlucks because the people were loving, passionate about their faith, the music was uplifting, people liked to dance, Mahriyanna got to play with friends, and we enjoyed the conversations with people. Even though we did not share their faith, we accepted them and they accepted us.
A few months after attending the Sunday gatherings, I realized that I was going to need to get off the fence. Either I needed to agree with these folks about Jesus being the only way to God, or I was going to have to decide that he was not the only way to God.
My friend Nancy told me that I did not have to give up my intellect to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Now that was a unique thought–no one had ever told me that! She offered to lend me the book, MORE THAN A CARPENTER by Josh McDowell.
Reading that book about an agnostic turned Christian started me thinking that I might have had the wrong idea about Christianity. No one had ever explained logically why Jesus was who he said he was–God. Reading this book inspired me to read and study others including atheists turned Christians, C.S. Lewis and Lee Strobel. I have read their books multiple times, trying to see if I can see any mistakes or fallacies.
One day in December, I was driving home from a cleaning job, and just feeling disgusted with my life. It wasn’t a horrible life–in fact, compared to many, I was very fortunate. I don’t even remember what I was feeling so bad about. But I know there was an emptiness. There was a sadness that I had never felt the kind of peace that passeth understanding that these followers of Jesus I had gotten to know and love professed to experience. I figured I had nothing to lose. There was enough evidence to show that Jesus was the one who I wanted to follow, and he was possibly even the only way–although I wasn’t ready to go that far.
So I just said to Jesus something like this, “Look, I want to commit my life to you. Nothing else has worked, and I want to give this a try, okay? I can’t really promise anything because I don’t know what I’m getting into.”
Nothing radical happened immediately. In fact, it was many years before I really felt that peace that passeth all understanding. But taking that step of faith was the best thing I have eve done in my life.
Eight years later, after times of doubting and questioning, I no longer spend my time doubting and questioning. I am still always up for hearing apologetics guys like Ravi Zacharius, Lee Strobel, and even at times Hank Hannegraph. I listen to sermons and testimonies and interview on radio and television every chance I get. I spent several months about five years ago when I really questioned my faith after having some very disappointing experiences with the people who helped bring me into my faith walk. So I read every book I could get my hands on which tried to refute the Bible and the fact that Jesus was the only way to God.
I continue to come to the conclusion that the evidence overpoweringly indicates that the Bible is true in relating the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith. I do have a very logical brain. I got an A plus in logic in college–the only class that I took that was easy for me. Robert says I should have been a lawyer. I also am very skeptical. I like to prove things for myself–not just believe.
I don’t really like spending time defending my faith. I don’t see it has my strength to try to persuade people to follow Jesus. I hope that my life and actions will inspire people to want to know more about my faith. If they were to ask, I would encourage them to read A CASE FOR THE REAL JESUS, THE SHACK, and BLUE LIKE JAZZ. I would encourage them to be open minded, because most people I know who oppose Christianity seem to be focusing on all the Christians who have exploited Jesus teachings.
Jesus was so clear when he said that the greatest commandments were to love God and love your neighbor (which I interpret to mean–love all people). Everything else in the whole Bible hangs on that. My relationship with Jesus helps me to have the peace that I have yearned for all my life. My commitment to following Jesus helps me to have a rich life no matter what is happening on the outside. My increasing desire to live out this grand experiment of being the hands and feet of Jesus has helped me to heal my relationships with family and friends, and to see all people as God’s children who he loves especially and equally.
My study of great Christians such as Corrie Ten Boom, Watchman Nee, Richard Warmbrandt, and Mother Teresa; my study of Christian apologetics; my personal experience of Jesus lead me to believe 99% that Jesus is the only way to God; that he was God, and without God, life is hell. The bible clearly teaches that a person can accept Jesus as his saviour up until the mili-second before he or she dies. Therefore, it is my theory that many of the very good people on this earth who sincerely believe things that are not true, but who really want to do good, will see Jesus as he really is. I believe that people are going to make a choice at some point whether to bow the knee and acknowledge Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
I also believe in reincarnation I don’t think there is proof enough in the Bible to show that people only have one lifetime. Therefore, if someone doesn’t “get it” in this life time, they have more chances. There is much emphasis in the Bible that shows that God being a God of mercy and justice–a God of second chances who wants everyone to be saved. I think hell is reserved for people who choose to be separated from God, and there are people living in hell right now on this earth by choice.
I really don’t like to argue theology, because it just isn’t fun for me. I like to have fun. I like to connect with people where we agree. I have spent countless hours arguing with people trying to show them they were wrong and I was right about various issues. I have discovered that this is not a fruitful use of my time.
My passion is that I can do the work that I believe God wants me to do–to help every house of faith become a 24 community center that reaches out to all the neighbors and friends in order to help them to thrive. If people choose to accept the faith of that group, so be it. If not, at least people have an opportunity to demonstrate their faith. The worst thing about most faiths is that too many people are not sold out and living it. If all the Muslims, Christians, Hindu’s Buddhists who believe that their path is one of helping their neighbors would do just that–we would have a better world. We would have a world where everyone’s needs were met, and then people could have the time and energy to have intelligent discussions about the truth of the Bible as opposed to the Koran or the Bhagavad Gita or the Buddhist scriptures or other scriptures.
My main concern is that people are suffering and I want to help get to the core of alleviating that suffering. If a child is starving, I am not going to be preaching the fact that Jesus is the only way…I want to give this child comfort and food. As I said before, if the child appreciates my gift, and wants to learn more about my path–I would love to share my faith. But I am not attached to this child accepting my faith. I really just want him or her to be truly happy.
Even Billy Graham, one of the greatest Christian evangelists of all time said that he couldn’t say if Muslims where all going to hell. Hurray for Billy–for it is clear in the Bible that God is just and he is going to do the right thing.
I am meeting, listening to, and reading Christians who I really respect. They don’t agree on every jot and tittle of the Bible, and they don’t expect to. I find more and more of them focusing on encouraging us to be Jesus to people rather than shove Jesus down their throats. I hear more and more about how we need to change ourselves rather than try to change others. I hear them teach as Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see happen.” I hear great love, concern, and wisdom. I feel encouraged, for I have seen many changes in the past eight years that I have been following Jesus and tuned into Christian teachings.
People also are teaching how much God loves us, and that he only wants the best for us. Yes, there is justice. There is a kind of karma–what you sow, you will reap. But there is so much grace. I have made so many terrible mistakes in my life, and I really feel God’s forgiveness. I love him so much. He has never let me down, even when I did not believe in his Son. He understood that I had been discouraged in my Christian walk by the very church I attended growing up. He knows about spiritual abuse and about hypocrisy.
Oh, I could write so much more. I wish I could write for hours every day about the way God keeps blessing me and helps me to love–not only my friends and family but even those who seem to want to hurt me. He supplies my every need, and when it seems all is lost, he has been there. My life is rich beyond belief–every day is a miracle. Yes, I get sad–more and more about how others are suffering, and less and less about my suffering. Now that is a miracle! More and more I feel joyful and grateful and hopeful. My prayer life is rich and rewarding, with my goal being to pray unceasingly. My insights about spirituality and what God wants for me keep increasing.My contentment level no matter what is happening is starting to be amazing!
I would like to conclude by requesting of you who are reading this who have doubts about Jesus being the only way to God. Would you just simply ask Jesus to reveal himself to you? I can’t guarantee anything, but there is a great chance that if you are sincere, you will experience Jesus as he really is. And that you will have a wonderful relationship with him as well.