I would like to start with a small discussion, may the Holy Spirit guide me in this. Tell me what do you think about God? Does He exist? Let us start with considering a few things.

  1. Life
  2. Situation (so called coincidences)
  3. Existence of the paranormal stuff.
  4. Interdependence
  5. Unexpected outcomes
  6. Science

Lets start with, 1: Life.

1. Life

Allow me to ask you something, looking at all the life that exist around you, can you tell me of anything that has come into LIVING existence from something that is not living? I know that science talks of the big bang and stuff, like life started from simple unicellular organism and developed into complex multi-cellular organisms. But tell me, how would you explain life coming into existence just like that? Ok if you say the conditions were favorable, which caused life to blossom, even then the “seed / root cause” of life had to exist in order for it to germinate. If there were no seed then there would be no life. The seed of life can only come from something that is alive, which existed before that seed did. Even today unicellular organism (incase you bring this up) exist, they have not developed. You may take examples of amoebae and paramecium (singled celled organisms), according to science they existed before today’s human beings. Why did evolution leave these organisms out? Why are they the same till now? If the conditions were not favorable they would not have survived till today & even today (18/2/2010) they continue to multiply.

So the question we need to ask ourselves is something similar to, which came first the chicken or the egg? Ask you self how did life begin? If you stay in an apartment then “look at your building & ask yourself”, is there any such thing as a builder? May be you know your builder or may be you don’t. What if you never saw your builder at work on your building? Would there then be any logical explanation, to consider the existence of your building without considering the existence of a builder? You may also apply the same question by looking at your life and the life around you.

If you were to come back to favorable and unfavorable conditions then I would like to tell you that favorable conditions are different for different living organism. An example of this would be, the basic favorable living condition for a fish would be water, without water it would suffocate and die even if there is plenty of air in the new environment because fish can only breathe in water. So there is no such thing as a favorable condition for life to exist, may be there would be a particular living organisms that cannot survive in a particular environment but that would not necessarily mean that that environment is devoid of life. So now, ask yourself since there are no such things as favorable conditions for life to exist, why is it that other planets and not full of life like Earth?

Also consider this, do you remember being born, I don’t but even though you don’t remember being born you know were born because that is the reason you are here today. It is the same about being created, if your mind was not mature enough to recollect your own birth how will you then recollect the moments of your creation.

Ask yourself; what / who is responsible for life? Is there a Supreme Hand behind all that is living?

2. Situations (so called coincidences)

I am sure all of us have come across situations, which we term as coincidences. You may meet an old friend, whom you were just thinking of the previous day. Or you may be talking about someone and that same person walks in. You may have desired something strongly and it all worked out, for whatever reason. Calling an incident a coincidence is weak definition for something that has been planned. If you believe in the term coincidence, then you and I too, exist by mere coincidence, what if our parents never met? Then would have been no marriage or you or me, think about it, is it coincidence or a small part of a big plan?

Ask yourself; Who is in charge of all this planning?

3. Existence of the paranormal stuff.

This is something that you would not be able to explain, if you do not agree with the existence of spiritual forces. I am sure many of you, may have had spine-chilling encounters with spiritual forces, which you may not be able to explain till today. May be the experience is engrained in you. If you agree with the existence of these spiritual forces then you would also need to agree that they are submissive to a certain authority. All created beings that exist, have to answer to someone higher. If you are with me till here then you will also agree that as you move up hierarchy, you will reach the Pinnacle / Supreme Authority. Everything that exist living or non living is dependent on something (man, weather, environment, soil, resources etc), there is nothing that exist in absolute independence. There is something (you may call it a spiritually Supreme force) that allows all creation (living or non-living) to co-exist. This Spiritually Supreme force is alive and provides for all His creation by bringing them together & making them work in tandem.  The paranormal entities that you may have encountered, have not come into being by themselves, they co-exist with other creation, they do not exist independently & they are totally dependent on that Supreme Authority.

Ask yourself; who is this Supreme Authority?

4. Interdependence

Have you ever wondered as to why all that we know that exist is always dependent on something, be it living or non living. Everything is interdependent, dependant either on the weather or the environment or on the availability of food & water. If you believe in the survival of fittest then you will also believe that creation gets better with time. Now, if you hold on to this idea, then can you tell me as to why, even after millions of years of so called improvement, has creation not been able to move out from interdependency to total self-sufficiency? If you say that these millions of years were not enough, then are you implying that probably millions of years from now we will see self sufficiency in all creation? but if that were to happen then every cell in a living organisms would exist independently and there would be no use of cells coming together to form a body and in the same way, even atoms of non-living things would exist independently and there would be no need to for them to stay together, form molecules and so there would be no structures (mountains, hills, planets, star etc). If this self-dependence were to ever come to pass then that would be the end of the universe, as we know it. There would be no oceans or seas, no mountains or plains, no planets or stars. The term co-existence would be non-existent. Life as we know it would come to an end. The theory of evolution stands only to be questioned, that if according to evolution life goes from good to better then why did these small particles (cells and atoms) come together to form a body when they could remained isolated and evolved to be self sufficient over many years.

If you were to ask me to explain the interdependency in all creation, then I would explain it all by comparing it to a kingdom. In a kingdom everything has a purpose and each part is useful and serves the full kingdom body either directly or indirectly. Let me give you an example, in a kingdom, a farmer provides food for the people, the surplus food would go into storage and could even be exported. A soldier would fight to advance the kingdom or to defend it & so provide protection to its people. A cleaner would make sure living conditions are hygienic to reduce disease and so improve overall living conditions. Even a house wife serves in the kingdom by keeping her husband relatively free of house work, so that he can work to further the interest of the kingdom & she can also tutor her children. Non-living things too have their purpose in the kingdom be it spears, shields & swords used by soldiers or guitars, organs, drums used by musicians for entertainment or ploughs used by farmers. Animals such as cattle, sheep, poultry, dogs etc also play their role in the kingdom. The land too plays its role by supporting vegetation, cattle etc.

In the same way creation functions, winds blow and carry water as rain to crops; the crops grow and feed the people.  Beautiful mountains, sunsets, valleys oceans, beaches etc. makes you marvel at His creation. The sun burns millions of miles away and plants use that light to make food for themselves by photosynthesis, herbivores eats those plants, carnivores eats those herbivores & scavengers (maggots, vultures, hyenas) eats them all when they die. This interdependency seems too organized to happen just like that. If you were to answer “Nature” makes things work in tandem then you are probably implying that there is a unseen force responsible that makes things co-exist and interdependent. Do you think this force will exist on earth alone? I don’t think so, because all creation is interdependent no mater where it is, so this force should be in control of the whole known and unknown universe. That would make this force supreme since it is in control of all things and since it makes all creation harmonize, then that would mean that this force is sovereign and its kingdom would be all of creation. Also since this force appears to be capable of decision making (beyond human understanding), implying that this force/King must be alive.

Ask yourself; who is this Sovereign (in full control) and alive force/King?

Would you like to know what it is that holds most cells and organs together? The scientific term is Laminin. Laminin are a protein network foundation for most cells and organs. They are an important and biologically active part, influencing cell differentiation, migration, adhesion as well as survival.

Would you like to know what the Laminin looks like in structure? Google Laminin images.

Do you see a cross like structure?

The three shorter arms are particularly good at binding to other laminin molecules, which allows them to form sheets. The long arm is capable of binding to cells, which helps anchor organized tissue cells to the membrane.

Does this give you any idea of who really is this “Supreme and alive” force/King?

Note: As an unbeliever & a possible Biology student, you may say that under the microscope the only similarity Laminin share with the molecular diagram is that they both have four arms branching from a central point; the arms vary in length from one specimen to the next and are not rigid as the diagrams may depict.

However to counter such a statement I would like to add that even the cross that people know today is not necessarily the cross Jesus died on, the shape of the cross is not spelled out in the Bible, infact sometimes in the Bible the cross was refereed to as a tree (Gal 3:13-14), We know the structure of the cross today just as we know the molecular structure of Laminin. Similarly the real cross on which Jesus died may have been just as vivid as the real Laminin you may have seen under the microscope.

5. Unexpected outcomes

I am sure you will know by now how unexpected certain things can be. Allow me to put a question to you. Consider the tsunami that happened a few years ago, where thousands of people lost their lives. Science can explain “why it happened?” but can science explain “How it happened?” Well my question of “Why” & “How” are very similar but allow me to take you deeper into the question. Consider two people say Mangesh & Raj, these two were really close friends but suddenly there is a rift for whatever reason. Now the two them would be very capable to explain the reason for the rift (Why) but would the two of them be able to say “how” come these two very close friends, who got along so well for whatever length of time, suddenly drew apart? This is the “Why” & “How” that I am referring to. Sometimes some really bad stuff happens to us & a person who may not be very sure about God may say “Why me?”, he would rarely say “How come it’s me?” Because the word “How” seeks to know & the word “Why” is more of a defensive question, rather than seeking to know. I shall further support my statement, if you were to say “why am I reading this book?” it would be more like questioning why you are not rejecting this book, however if you were to say “how is it that I am reading this book?”, it would be like you wanting to know what is making you read this book. So you see “why” is more of a question that you ask in your own defense while “how” is you seeking to know how this all fits in the big plan.

I am sure you may have some really big or small questions about your life that you are finding hard to answer. Have you considered asking yourself, how come this (whatever it is) happened to you? Have you ever felt within you a really strong urge to cry out for help? Have you considered crying in your heart to the One who is Supreme, whoever you think He is?

Ask yourself; who is this Person you cry out to when you are in despair?

6. Science

Science is something that shows the splendor in all of God’s creation. So that we may stand in awe of God & give Him glory. Let me give you an example; consider our computers I am sure that most of you would have your own desktop or laptop. Now you may have had a computer for so long that you may have lost your enthusiasm for your computer. However if anyone were to take you through the science behind your computer, like showing how millions of semiconductors fit into your processor, which is just the size of a potato chip or showing how all the information in the books that students carry in those bulky bags can be accommodated in a memory chip the size of your thumbnail or showing you the science behind wireless data transfer via Bluetooth. If I were to help you understand this, you would be intrigued but you would not give glory to man. I have never come across man glorifying man because of technology that man made. Man may say that he is not satisfied because there is much more to learn and make but deep within man knows that what ever he has learnt has come from God. Man has never been self sufficient that is why man is never satisfied when he relies on himself. Coming back, just as the knowledge of how your computer is made and how it works, helps you appreciate technology. In the same way the Science of (we, this world with every thing in it & the universe) helps us see the splendor of God (with the right state of mind) and so give Him glory.

Science is good subject to talk about; it helps you understand the nature of things around & their function. However may I add a word of caution; if you use science to disapprove the existence of God then that would be like using God inspired knowledge against God Himself. God sustains all things. There are many things that human science cannot explain because it works on the basis of human knowledge and human logic. Man has tried several things in terms of science for perfect living, but has man achieved that? Man till now, has been unable to use his human logic and knowledge to make sense of his own life. Yeah a man may say that he has his whole life worked out but time works in God’s favour and sometimes makes man eat his own words in disgrace. This same man who has been unable to make sense of his own life (growing up, studying, making friends, getting a job, finding a partner, getting married, buying a house, having children, raising children and handling a job at the same time, staying in touch with friends, finding security in old age….and so on), attempts to make sense of God. What he knows cannot even help him, but he considers himself thorough, to develop his own doctrine about what he thinks about God.

May I use science to show you how insignificant we (man) are in all creation.

If were to compare my planet Earth to the Sun, it would be like comparing my city Mumbai to the state Maharashtra that it is in. It would be like the size of a really small coin & that is also the same way the Earth is, in comparison to the Sun. Now if I were to compare the size of the Sun to our Solar System, the Sun would be a very small fraction of the entire Solar System. The Sun would probably be like another small coin in our Solar System. Now let us go back through some school science. I would like to tell you that the Solar System is one where we have our Sun in the center with the planets and their moons revolving around the Sun. I think its time for me to tell you of the measurement that is used for telling distance between stars. The measurement is called light-years. The speed of light is 3X10^8 meters per second, which is some amazing speed. Think of this, light takes just 8 minutes to go from the Sun to the Earth, which is roughly 93 million miles. So just imagine the distance light would cover in one whole year & that is called 1 light-year. Just like our Solar System, there are many other Solar Systems that together form one Galaxy. The Galaxy that holds our Solar System is called the Milky Way. Do you know the diameter of our Galaxy (Milky Way)? It is 100,000 light-years. Now just like our galaxy there are millions and millions of other galaxies holding their own solar system. Can you imagine how big that is? I can’t but this is just the known universe. The telescopes that we have today can only look this far. As Physics says that the universe is ever increasing, I cannot comprehend, when it will be, that we will be able to see, the entire universe, which also is small fraction of God’s creation. How visible do you think we are in all of this creation? The Only Being that can see us in all this (our known) vastness is God.

Atheists are not people who we need to fight, they are people we need to educate with reason & love. May be they have a fear in them and prohibits them from thinking about eternal security. This is something that discourages them from asking themselves questions that will get them to start thinking, whether God exist. For those who don’t believe in God. This may happen when people go through hard times in life but I will tell you this they will come to the conclusion that God does not exist when they are out of the bad situation. They somehow fail to see who was instrumental in pulling them out. I say instrumental because God often uses the environment around His people to help them out. As my Pastor rightfully puts it there is never an atheist on a sinking ship except may be in the movies. Even an atheist will say “yes” to God in a dire situation but when he is out of that situation he may forget God, may be that would be because he still wants to stick to his own notions or he will make himself believe that it was just a coincidence or he got lucky or he had some good people to rely on. He thinks everything worked in his favour without God, something like a diesel engine running without diesel. Without God nothing happens & nothing exists.

I do not feel like I can convince a head strong Atheist that God exists in this chapter alone. Force of any kind is certainly not a way God uses to draw people to Himself. God loves using his resources (people, situations & time) to bring people to know Him & so I would like to share with you, 3 testimonies of Atheist, who came to believe and trust in Jesus.

1st Testimony: Sanjay Merchant

At one time in my life I considered myself an atheist. At least I thought that I was an atheist. However, I often struggled with the hypocrisy that I saw in my life due to the difficulties with actually living out atheism. From a detached “intellectual” point of view it’s easy to wave your hand and proclaim, “there is no God because there is no proof of his existence.” Yet most atheists are really shaking an angry fist in spite of the evidence which they know to exist.

You see, it’s easy to claim atheism, but it’s difficult to live atheism. I’ll explain this later on. But first, I’ll explain some things for those who don’t know what atheism is about. The word “atheist” literally means, “without God”. In other words, the nature of man, his moral standards (or lack thereof) and purpose can be explained outside of the recognition of a creator. Most atheists believe that everything we see in existence is the result of natural, physical processes, which can be observed today.

For example, I believed in the “Big Bang” theory and Darwinian evolution. I believed in the “Big Bang” because I thought that it was a scientific explanation as to our existence, while religion was just full of myth. Through later research I found that the “Big Bang” is not science at all since it is not based on direct observation or testable methods. In contradiction, it is adhered to “religiously” by those who wish to purposely reject the idea of accountability and a moral standard. Some say, “Well God could have initiated the Big Bang.” But by the time you get to Ylem (the supposed source of the bang) you’ve effectively eliminated any worshipable god from the picture (a very convenient trick for those who don’t want God but can’t disprove him; just make him really small). In turn, I had simply assumed this theory to be fact as my sixth grade teacher had told me it was so. We studied it along with the fact that the earth revolves around the sun, and that’s certainly provable and accepted.

Similarly, I believed that my origins were found in evolution. This was superficially pleasing to me as it was an adequate method to explain away actions that I knew were immoral. Deep inside I was convinced that many of my actions were wrong, but evolution helped me to conveniently rationalize those fears. I was able to blame my actions on my “natural instincts”. I would lie to my parents to better my own existence, I would hurt others to ease my own life and assert my dominance over rivals (survival of the fittest), and I would sleep with my girlfriend due to my animal instinct to procreate (though had we succeeded we would have had an abortion – logical?).

I had trouble, however, trying to explain the guilt and sickness I had felt when I knew that I had done what was wrong.

Another real problem arose for me when it came to discussing religion. I could calmly discuss the teachings of Mohammed or Buddha, but when it came to Jesus I became very angry. I thought that an atheist should act rationally and never get angry. After all, it was evolutionarily useless to become so mad, unless it preserved my life.

I argued with and harassed Christians without cause. I hated their joy and love for one another. I felt that they simply needed a crutch; they could have their crutch… I was man enough to face my death. But, I found that I was afraid of life. I hated almost everyone, especially myself… but of course, this was “natural”.

One evening I went to a Christian Bible study to argue and set people straight, as I thought. I was convinced that I understood life even though I had never heard the Christian message. I simply believed the hypocrisy I had seen in the headlines, the strict regulations imposed by the Vatican and the hate spread by racists who said that they were Christians (its surprising to note the roots of racism lie in atheism, and are nowhere found in the Bible).

I met people who were nothing like I had imagined. I hung on every word of the speaker. I was in awe of his wisdom, while still attempting to disagree. At the end of the evening he asked if he could pray for me. I allowed him as I did not believe in prayer, but didn’t want to be rude. As he finished I opened my eyes in amazement. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was as if I was a newborn… all my vain arguments and anger passed away. I no longer hated these people. I almost ran out in fear. That night I prayed for the first time. I asked Jesus to help me if he was able.

The next day I called my former best friend (I say former because he had become a Christian months before and after many arguments I decided to have no contact with him). He brought two other men that had been close friends of mine in the past also. They answered all my lingering questions and I understood about God for the first time. Afterwards, they prayed for me. I felt as if I had come into the presence of the Jesus that I had hated so much. I raised my hands to fight, but I felt that his arms were wide open… ready to forgive and help me. I broke down in tears and gave my life over to Jesus. I didn’t join a religion or a church… I simply can to realize what happens when an atheist meets Jesus.

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2nd Tetimony: Richard Deem

This is the testimony of Richard Deem, a sinner saved by the grace of God. Even though I was unworthy, God loved me and called me to be His child. This is my story of discovery.

I was raised in a moral, but non-Christian home, by loving, but agnostic parents. From my earliest memories, I have had a profound interest in science and nature. I pursued studies in the sciences in my classes and on my own, primarily in the old “playhouse” room adjacent to the garage in the backyard of my parents’ home. During these early years I came across several religious people, all of whom seemed to believe theirs was the only true religion. The need for God seemed remote, since I was very capable and self-sufficient.

I pursued a bachelor of science degree in biology at the University of Southern California, which included several classes which discussed the theory of evolution. Studies on the possible chemical evolution of life were unconvincing and led me to the conclusion there must have been a Creator God who at least created the earliest life forms (and the universe itself). I became a deist, but was skeptical of being able to sort out which of the religions of the world represented the true God.

After graduating, I began a master of science program in microbiology at California State University Los Angeles and worked part time counting inventory at night for an inventory service. One of these night jobs involved doing an inventory at a Christian bookstore. The store’s owner was very friendly and helpful, but halfway through the job he announced to our crew that he was going home. He told us to finish counting and leave the totals on his desk, lock the door, and drop the keys in the mail slot. We were all amazed that he would trust total strangers with his store. There was obviously something very different about this Christian man.

I graduated with a master degree and began my career doing research in the field of immunology. Things went very well and within six years I had published eight articles (five of which I was primary author) in prestigious scientific journals. I was running my own life and ignoring God until I got very sick. The tests revealed I had Crohn’s disease, a serious, incurable inflammatory disease of the intestines. I found myself unable to do things using my own abilities and strength. After two months of being bedridden in severe pain, I cried out to God and promised to try to follow Him and do what He wanted me to do (although I had no idea what that was at the time). Within three months all symptoms of Crohn’s disease had disappeared.

Three years later I was “set up” for a blind date with a Christian woman. We got along fine, except when it came to the issue of God. I was given many things to read, including the gospel of Luke (which she thought would be of interest, since Luke was a physician). None of this reading was convincing, so I decided to read the entire New Testament, beginning with the gospel of Matthew. Things seemed rather bland until I got to the Sermon on the Mount (chapter 5). What Jesus had to say was unlike any of the messages of the world, but was what I would expect to be God’s message. I was suddenly aware that I was guilty in the eyes of God, even though I had led a “good, moral life.” The Holy Spirit convicted me that Jesus was the Son of God and that He was only way to have peace and communion with a Holy God.

Since that time, I have grown in faith as I have followed the course laid out by the Holy Spirit. The joy and peace found by following Jesus is unlike anything the world has to offer. It is something that I could not have understood as a non-believer. If you are a non-believer, I’m sure you have doubts about the peace Jesus promises. However, through simple faith and a prayer to God, you can experience this peace yourself. You have nothing to lose and eternity to gain. If you still have some doubts or questions about the Bible, trust that the Lord will answer those questions. The Lord has been faithful in answering my doubts regarding the harmony between science and the Bible through the ministry of Reasons to Believe. One of my favorite verses is from Isaiah:

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

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3rd Testimony: Shawn

This testimony is about how my life changed “instantly” one night in a hotel room as I hovered the edge of death while my whole life flashed in front of me.

These wonderful events happened during a time in my life when God was non-existent to me. My atheistic views fed a notion that “He” was nothing more than a theory in the imagination of weak-minded people, people who are starving for meaning and purpose in this dull and bleak world. But not I. I was not one of them, I was stronger than that and had all the answers and did not need a God.

This belief system turned out to be only half-truth, because little did I know, a series of events would happen, ultimately changing my view forever and bringing me face to face with reality.

Prior to these events, life at best held little meaning to me. So much had already happened to me as a child, things I had no control over. Things like, being given-up for adoption into a family who treated me like an outsider. Being forced to deal with mental, physical and sexual abuse and even racism by the ones who claimed to love me. It was a very difficult childhood in many ways and my sensitive nature did not make it any easier either. None of it made any sense to me so I gave up on the idea of a purpose filled life.

As a result, I concluded life to be too short to be concerned about such nonsense, nonsense about a living God I mean. Especially a God who would allow an innocent child like my self to go through the things I did and not do anything about it. Instead, I sought freedom from it all with a no-matter-the-cost frame of mind, and at the age of seventeen my search began that lasted nearly eighteen years. What I didn’t know though, was that those eighteen years would be spent digging a hole so deep that eventually I would reach a point where I would have only one direction to look – that was up.

In the latter part of my wandering aimlessly around the states, my past began catching up with me in a major way. I soon found myself unable to bear the painful memories of my childhood and looked to drugs and alcohol as a means of escaping. For many years, substance abuse became my God.

As time went on, I found myself in a serious state of depression and loneliness and eventually slithered into a recluse condition. I was a mess; haunted by an unfortunate past and left to deal with it all on my own and not understanding the reason why. The more my memories manifested themselves the more inflamed my reckless lifestyle became. I reached a point where drugs, alcohol and sexual stimulation controlled my life, every aspect of it, and everything I did evolved around them. From the moment I woke up, until I passed out, I was under the control of this artificial release; even my dreams were intoxicated.

Throughout my travels, I of course met many people but it was impossible to maintain a lasting relationship, not only due to the fact I moved around continuously but mainly because of my instability and loss of interactive social skills. I did not realize it at the time but I was swimming in a sea of depression. It was more than just a blip of abnormality; it was a chronic infection and it overshadowed me day and night. It was fueled by feelings of abandonment, loneliness, and worthlessness and any problems I encountered quickly escalated to nuclear size proportion. I was at the point where I did not want to be around anyone. I was a walking barrage of misery, inapproachable and unpredictable, and ready to implode at any given moment.

As years past, I increasingly became more dependent upon those things that were tearing my life apart; they became the norm and I found myself drifting coast to coast in search of them. And I eventually ended up in South Beach Miami, Florida, where I met a beautiful girl named Emma, from New Zealand.

Emma was able to touch me in a way that no one else had ever done so before and I quickly fell in love with her. She was away from home and her studies, traveling around the world and was only to be here in the states for a short period. Although I knew her stay was to be limited, I allowed myself to fall head over heels just the same. She was unfamiliar to me, but treated me so well, and seemed to overlook all of my flaws. I was shown the kind of attention by her that I had always longed for, and for a brief moment, while in her presence, I felt normal. When we were together, it seemed as if the darkness had lifted away from my life, and I could breathe again. However, that readiness did not last.

When it came time for her to move on, I couldn’t take anymore. My heart and mind were too weak to handle another person walking out of my life and the pain that was to follow would have been too much to bear. I had already convinced her to stay longer than she had planned, on a couple of occasions, but the time came when she had to go; there was no other choice. When that time reached its point, I lost what little control I had left, and on the night before, I overdosed on extra strength pain pills.

I was rushed to the hospital and spent three days in intensive care and another three days in the psych ward but eventually signed myself out against the hospital’s recommendations. When they questioned why I did it, I told them I had made a big mistake, that I did not want to die and that it would never happen again. I convinced them, and even myself, that I could handle the situation and did not need help from anyone; I was in total denial.

That episode sparked an accelerated downturn and I soon found myself speeding on that road of self-destruction, once again. As time grew, so did my depression, loneliness and substance abuse until it eventually ended up in Phoenix Arizona, the one last stop before my life would be changed forever.

I had been living in a hotel room for about a year and soon found myself not wanting to live again but this time, it was worse than before. The feelings of despair were stronger and I more weakened, and I spent countless days alone, drinking, drugging and contemplating the best way to take my life, but this time I would do it right.

Unlike before, I was not afraid of death; in fact, it would have been the ultimate relief for me, so I thought. I was so tired and just could not imagine anything else better but to “close my eyes and go to sleep.” I had completely stopped looking for reasons to live and searched for every reason to die.

The more I thought of my life the wearier it made me. My day-to-day routine became too heavy of a struggle. I felt bogged down in misery and did not have the energy left to carry on. I was a walking dead man on a path of hopelessness; I felt I was beyond help and there was no way out in sight. I had reached a dead end of it all . . . who knew that this would ever happen to me? That the hole I had dug for myself all the years past would finally hit its rock bottom. And on that night, while sitting in that lonely hotel room, the reality of it all came crashing down on top of me.

June 14th, 2002 – Phoenix, Arizona (approximately 10:00pm)

I was in the hotel room, alone as usual, drinking, smoking marijuana and crack cocaine; I had started around 4pm or so. After turning on the television, I noticed it left on a religious channel. This was odd to me because I never watched that kind of stuff, religion was nonexistent, to the extent that I did not believe I mean. I felt it was just another form of brainwashing, a way of controlling lives and their hard-earned money, and I wanted no part in it.

I did not put too much emphasis on why the T.V. was on that station. I just assumed the housekeeper had been watching while cleaning my room. Besides, I was not interested in watching TV anyway; it was just another form of distraction while getting high.

I went back to what I was doing and after awhile the television caught my attention once more. This time a female preacher was ministering. She talked about the world and the things that were happening at that time and went on to mention something about 9/11 and then related all of what was happening to end time prophecies. I guess this is why my attention was drawn initially; 9/11 was a traumatic time for the world.

She then went on to speak about things like heaven, hell and sin, but the more I listened to her the angrier it made me. It was sounding like nonsense to me, and I eventually got up and turned the set off before sitting back down to my cocktail of drugs.

Moments later, I caught myself daydreaming about what she had been talking about and briefly considered the possibility of some truth behind it. However, it did not take me long before I shook off the idea and laughed at the same time for even thinking of such foolishness.

Some time had passed before I found myself sitting on the edge of the bed thinking about my own life and the way it had ended up. The more I thought about it the more saddened I became. It all seemed so unfairly divergent to anyone else’s life I had ever known before and I asked myself. “Why is it that my life is the way it is and what did I do wrong that I am not able to change it?” No matter how hard I had ever tried, I just could not make any changes. (It took me some years to realize why this is sometimes the case . . . this is actually a blessing in disguise.)

As I thought more, I started feeling sorry for the way things had turned out. I began admitting to myself that I was an outcast and a failure. I presumed this to be the reason why my biological parents gave me up for adoption in the first place; I was some sort of bad apple, I felt.

I thought of how hard it was growing up as an adoptee and not feeling loved by the people who took me in, or like part of their family. I went on to think about all the trouble I was into and that no one cared enough to investigate the reasons why, but that I knew there were reasons behind it. I thought more of the loneliness that I had no choice but to live with, the sadness I suffered my whole life, and of all that weight I carried on my shoulders and how tired I was of carrying it.

I thought of my ethnicity and the labels the world gave people like me because of my mixed race, and not fitting in with my peers. I hated the names they called me, names like “mixed breed, mutt, zebra, half baked, yellow,” etc. I just did not feel normal in any way. I felt worse off than a dog and that I was no better than the slop swine feed on or the waste they tread underfoot.

I thought of how hard it was growing up in a town that hated interracial relationships and they hated me because I was a product of one. I felt it all to be unfair that I had no control over the way I was born or the life that I had been given. I would often ask the same question . . . “Why, why did I have to be so different?” I was, though, never given an answer.

No one loved me . . . I was sure of this. No one cared how I lived or what I was going through, and I knew this. Why? Because I felt it. How could it be though? How could the world be so insensitive? How could they not care when I was hurting so much? Couldn’t they see it? It was beyond me. However, the truth is that I could not see past my own pain. It made me want to crawl under a rock and hide from it all. And in addition to all that, unbeknownst to everything else I was going through, I realized my addictions.

I had become addicted to crack cocaine, alcohol, sexual stimulation and even depression. These were major strongholds on my life and I hated myself for it. It was then when I realized I had truly hit rock bottom, but somehow, I felt like that bottom was where I belonged.

I sat there realizing I had reached my destiny and it would never change. Why? Because it wasn’t meant to. I imagined myself being born as an example of someone else’s mistakes and left to suffer for them the rest of my pathetic life. There was no way out of it. I was convinced of this. No matter what anyone said, or did, it would never change, not one single thing would ever change because this is where I was meant to be.

I hid my face into my hands and felt the unfairness of it all. I did not have a chance from the moment I was born, I thought. I still couldn’t understand the reason why, either. I was innocent and didn’t ask for any of it. Why me? What had I done? I kept asking myself these same questions repeatedly that night.

I thought of the times I tried to make a change but didn’t make progress. It felt like something was holding me back; I just could not break free. Every time I put one foot forward, the force of that something pushed me three steps back. I tried – I tried many times to move forward but no matter how hard I tried, I found myself beating against an unrelenting wind.

I filled with anxiety and finally stood up and began pacing back and forth around the room while keeping in deep thought. After some time, my attention fell upon the Holy Bible that had been sitting on a nightstand next to the bed. It had been collecting dust there for as long as I had been living in that room and until that moment, I had not considered reading it.

(Here in the States, a group called the Gideons left bibles in motel rooms across the country . . . it is an American Tradition)

Strangely enough, I remember at least on one occasion I threw it into the trash only to come back later in the evening to find the housekeeper had taken it out and placed it back on the stand. I also remember wanting to get rid of it on several occasions but for some reason, I either forgot or just became preoccupied. The only time I ever gave any real thought to it was when I ran out of rolling papers.

Anyway, as I sat on the edge of the bed staring at the Bible, the desire to pick it up became even stronger. It was an unusual feeling to say the least, as I said before, I never gave it consideration. Nevertheless, I finally gave into the urge and picked it up.

As I took it in my hands and randomly opened it, it turned to the book of 1st Thessalonians . . . but reading it was a task. I realized I was too intoxicated to understand anything written down. Nonetheless, I stumbled through a couple of paragraphs trying to comprehend. “This is a waste of time,” I said. I could not remember one single verse from the other. “I am too high,” I said. However, the urge kept me trying.

Suddenly, one part of a page jumped out at me with clarity. It talked about all kinds of sin and the consequences of them. Everything about my immoral life style, it seemed to be mentioning. It went on to explain how detrimental this lifestyle is, and one in particular screamed at me – the sin of sexual immorality. It all pierced my heart definably.

As I was reading all of this, it was becoming uncomfortably clear to me that the way I was living my life was wrong. I understood it exactly, and it was a deep understanding as well. This understanding went deeper than anything I had ever understood before. It was as though the effects of the drugs had stripped away and my mind had opened to its core. Indeed, it had.

I can’t put it into better words, to explain to you exactly how I felt at that moment, but believe me when I say it; it was a powerful perception that could have only come from God.

As I read on, it talked about many different types of sin and I realized that every one of them mentioned played a major role in my life, a controlling role. I felt as if God was talking directly to me in admonishment for the way I was living.

When I realized this, I increased with sorrow and shame. It was the most uncomfortable feeling I had ever experienced in my whole life and it was at that point when I realized just how unclean I was in the eyes of God. And immediately upon acknowledgment of this, I opened up, pleading from the bottom of my heart, “GOD IF YOU ARE REAL THEN HELP ME.”

As soon as I uttered those words, at that exact moment when they left my lips, my heart opened even further, and for the first time in nearly five years I began to pour tears like a baby. I had never cried like that in my entire life. It was as if the floodgates to my heart had exploded and the water rushed through my eyes as if rushing back to where it came from.

I became weak all over my body, and lightheaded to the point I had to lie back on the bed. As I tried stopping the flow of tears, the more I resisted, the heavier they persisted. I soon stopped fighting and allowed them to pour. I cried my heart out that night.

A long time went by as the tears continued without ceasing, then, the even stranger happened. I started having flashbacks of my past. They were vivid images of things I had done to myself and to others. It was as if a film projector from within my mind was replaying parts of my life. They were projections of bad things I had done and went back as far as my childhood. Some of these visions were of things I had forgotten all about; they were of every evil thing that I had ever done in my life.

My whole life was flashing in front of my eyes – one vision after another – they just kept coming. First, the vision and then the memory of it followed. They kept coming and coming for what seemed like an eternity and there were so many of them.

At first, I was at awe by it but soon afterward it freaked me out. It was very disheartening and emotionally overwhelming to see these memories replaying in my mind and I had no control over them. It was as if I was reliving my past.

As the visions continued, my heart began beating rapidly and I became short of breath. I was to the point where I was fighting to breathe, and then I became even more afraid. I realized in the deepest part of my spirit that this was an act of God. He suddenly became very real to me, more real than any tangible thing in this world. I felt the fear of death for the first time in my life that night. I knew that at that point I was dying and these memories of my past were my judgments and the reasons why I would be spending eternity in hell.

A dreadful and inexpressible feeling of fear overwhelmed me right then. My heart, my mind and my entire body was entrenched with anxiety. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before in my life. No words can express the level of fear I was going through. It was not natural, I assure you. It came from somewhere far more terrifyingly empty than any place here on earth and wherever it is, that fear was definitely a product of it.

Moments later, I fell to my knees beside the bed and began to pray but all I could say was, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” and “please forgive me.” The more I pleaded, the heavier the tears flowed.

After some moments, I sat back on the bed and reached for the bible once again, still trembling. As I picked it up, I began reading more. This time I focused on the next page. It no longer talked about sin or the condemnation of sin but talked about a way out of it through Jesus Christ and God’s forgiveness through him. And as quickly as all that fear came into me, it left and was replaced with an inexpressible feeling of joy, hope and promise.

Once again, I was enveloped by an indescribable level of emotion but this time it was very positive. My entire body submerged in a positive pool of emotional illumination. I cannot express it, but to say that the level of fear and shame I felt moments before was replaced tenfold by the joy I felt then. It was more amazing than anything I have ever experienced in my life . . . I wish I could walk in that feeling forever . . . it was truly amazing. I then went back to my knees beside the bed and closed my eyes to pray.

(I must stop now and explain something that is very important, because later on, I realized the significance. God did something else amazing.)

I grew in a small town back in the Midwest, in a southern Baptist Church. The name is not important but it taught that all “white people” were devils, among other false doctrines. Do not misunderstand me, not all Southern Baptists churches believe this way, it was just a deceived mind of the pastor of that particular church. What he believed was totally opposite of who and what God is. God is of love and loves us all the same without discriminating and more than what our minds are able to conceive.

Nevertheless, I remember growing up as a child thinking how it would be possible for half of me to go to heaven and the other half to hell . . . it was quite confusing and I quickly lost interest in the church and in God.

My point is this: no one ever taught me the correct ways of God or what the Holy Bible was really saying. No one ever taught me how to pray for forgiveness or that I should ask Christ into my heart. I did not even know what it meant to accept Christ into my heart. But that night, while I was on my knees the second time, I suddenly knew exactly what I should pray for and what I should say. It was as if God had planted the words directly into my heart, as I know he did.

The words came to my mind exactly like in the book of Romans 10:9.

. . .if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

It was not an audible voice, but more like a knowing. It was as if I had always known the way to salvation, as if it had always been inside of me my whole life. In a sense, I guess it had been. It has always been in my spirit; it’s in all of our spirits. Thus, I spoke those words with belief and with expectation.

After I prayed and confessed Christ as my Lord and Saviour, I immediately felt a warm sensation enter into my body. Once again, it is difficult to describe the feeling but it was like a gentle electrical sensation, like pins and needles but softer and it filled my entire body from head to toe. Every hair stood up on end. (I later understood exactly what that sensation was . . . it was the Holy Sprit of God.) At that point, I was being changed from the inside, from deep within. All the way to the core of my existence, I knew it, because I felt it.

At that moment, I knew God had just entered my life and He was there to stay, to never leave nor forsake me. He had made a permanent home in my heart that night and I knew from that moment on it would never be the same again, nor would my life be.

Upon realizing this, I stood up and felt as if I were floating on a cloud of air, as if my feet were not touching the floor. All the heaviness, all that weight I had been carrying around with me my whole life had suddenly disappeared. It vanished in an instance. I felt a hundred pounds lighter, no, two hundred pounds lighter, as though the world lifted from my shoulders. I had been changed, made into a completely different person – a new person. It was as if I had been reborn – spiritually transformed.

Needless to say, the visions faded away completely. My mind cleared and there was no sign that I had done any drugs that night. Upon realizing all of this, I began crying all over again but this time they were tears of thankfulness.

Everything about me that night was replaced with newness. I knew that I just become a child of the Most High God and He was real and I was glad He was real. Furthermore, I knew that the God of love and compassion was about to lead me in a very new direction.

As I cried out, thanking him for what he had just done, I realized, or better yet, I was given a sense of release from everything that had kept me in bondage for so many years. Not only was the weight gone but also I knew that along with it went my addictions. Those chains that bound me had broken away and were gone forever. I knew it without a doubt; those controlling strongholds I had lived with most of my life, the depression, all of it, they were gone, gone forever. And indeed they are.

It was an amazing night; God miraculously changed my life in a blink of an eye. I realize now that He took me to the brink of death, let me feel what hell is like, and showed me all the reasons why I deserved to go there. He then brought me back from it all and offered me a reason for living, a reason for change and a second chance with him through Jesus Christ.

I find it hard to express to you how much this all means to me. But I was an atheist, at best an agnostic, even to that night, to that very hour to be exact. I even cursed God and hated anything to do with him. I was a thief and a liar and filled with thoughts of lust and deprivation.

I overflowed with anger, hate, depression, and hopelessness and was even suicidal but God loved me just the way I was and waited for the right moment to take it all away from me. In doing so, He did allow me to dig a hole so deep that I would hit rock bottom at which point I would have No Other Direction to look but up. He never forced himself on me, but waited patiently while conditioning my heart to receive him, and for that I am deeply in love with him.

It took me going to hell and back in more ways than one but you may not have to go that far. You can ask him right now to come into your life. He will remove from you whatever it is that is trying to destroy you.

You may feel like your life is just perfect, that everything is falling into place just the way it should be but if you accept Christ in your life it will be so much more profitable and so much more meaningful. More than you can ever imagine.

Amen.

Shawn

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