Wednesday, March 13, 2013

#TellHisStory: Letter to a Friend

I can't get you out of my mind.  About a week ago, I happened on a comment you made on Facebook, a comment about having a different-than-Christian point of view because you are an agnostic.  The word brought up memories of a time when I said the same thing.  You want to hear something funny, though.... I actually looked the word up again, yesterday, just to make sure that what you said and what I was thinking were one and the same.  And once I read the definition, I knew we were.  Because I see the searching in you.  I see the logical thinking, the fascination with science fiction, the taking reality one step further into an infinite universe of possibilities.  Agnostic: a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable...

I remember days of being open-minded.  If God exists and truly created the universe, then earth and mankind would be so small and insignificant as to be completely unnoticed - I believe I compared us to a drop from a sneeze...  Thou shalt have no other gods before Me - meant God was not alone.  If there was more than one god, then the whole premise of Judeo-Christian belief fell apart.  When a group of Jehovah's Witnesses came by, I asked them what made their beliefs different.  They said they believed that Jesus was on the throne in heaven.  My response to them was "Why? Is God dead?"   Open minded, right?  I loved Bible stories, but I didn't believe they really happened.  I believed just as equally in the possibility of fairies.  There seemed to be enough evidence that Jesus had actually lived, that he had been an amazing teacher of moral good, and that he'd had a huge following in his day, but Messiah?  Savior?  God?  No.

I wasn't in love with religion.  History had shown me that evil had been done in the name of God.  The Old Testament showed me a jealous God, an extreme justice, eye-for-an-eye God, a God of thunder, fire, and storm.  I was pretty sure that I didn't want to be a part of religion.

But, I also remember feeling left out.  Good people tried to do right, they cared about others, they gave to social causes.  That was me.   I tried.  I cared.  I gave.  I didn't say mean or ugly things.  I wasn't a monster.  But I wasn't a Christian.  People around me were Christians.  They said things like Have a blessed day.  They held prayer meetings.  They listened to praise music.  They talked about grace and forgiveness.    I wanted to join their faith club, but I couldn't.  My intellect wouldn't allow it.  I would have to believe in something that I couldn't prove.  I would have to talk to someone I couldn't see.  My integrity wouldn't allow me to fake it - I couldn't just pretend to go along with the group.  Not that group.

Faith was the answer, I decided.  Faith is that ability to do those things that I was rebelling against... to believe in the unprovable, to speak to the invisible.  So I asked a friend about faith.  "Faith is a gift from God," she said.   Back to the drawing board for me, then.  It hurt to think that this God of hers would choose to give her a gift and not me.  Tears.

Well, I couldn't very well call myself open-minded if I chose not to listen to the side I'd been fighting against. The side that had caused me to feel unwanted and unloved.  Another friend suggested a program at her church and I convinced my husband to attend with me.  It was called the Alpha program, and it changed my life.

Classes met every week; I ended up going to every single one.  See, the people who wrote the program knew me.  They knew my arguments.  I was an agnostic - I could argue either way about the existence of God.  I was open minded.  Jesus, a good teacher, had existed.  And that's where they started - with Jesus, not God.  The mind-blower for me was this quote from C.S. Lewis:

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.  He would either be a lunatic, on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg, or else he would be the Devil of Hell.  You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse - but let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher.  He has not left that open to us.  He did not intend to.

We are faced then with the frightening alternative.  The man we are talking about was (and is) just what he said or else a lunatic or something worse.  Now it seems to me obvious that he was neither a lunatic nor a fiend; and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem.  I have to accept the view that he was and is God.  God has landed on this enemy-occupied world in human form.  

Mind blower?  For me, it was.  Because this statement put the missing piece of my illogic into place, turned it around, and made me believe - not only in the divinity of Jesus, but in the existence of God.  In logic, you know the outcome once A equals B, and B equals C....  So, yes, I went to every single class in the program - sometimes kicking and screaming, because I have to tell you, being a member of the faith club is not without work and expectations.  That gift from God?  Faith is given because we ask Him for it.  Simple as that.  Jesus?  He is waiting for us to ask Him into our heart.  Simple.

Here's the thing.  I know that we - you and I - don't really know each other that well.  We worked together - we talked a little.  I keep thinking about that saying from school - that thing we talk about when we analyze good teachers.  They won't care how much you know until they know how much you care.  I care about you!  I care that you are honest, and logical, and searching.  I care that you probably feel left out sometimes.  I care that you're trying to do this thing - this living right - all by yourself.  It breaks my heart to think of you without God.  Without Jesus.  Without the Holy Spirit.  The most amazing thing that I found in my journey back to God, is that He really never left me.  He hasn't left you either.  He loves you more than you will ever understand, and that's ok.  Sometimes you have to let go of that control and intellect and just know that All things are possible with God.  It's Theology 101 - He is God and we're not.  Period.

Please let me know how you're doing.  If all of this is just too much, it's ok - I still care and want the best for you.  Of course I'll joyfully share anything and everything else I've found on this journey - it's been quite a ride so far, and I'm looking forward to SO MUCH MORE!!



Just a note - I did actually write this letter to a friend, for all the reasons stated.  It was a first for me - I don't know exactly how I would have taken receiving a letter like this during my years as an agnostic.  But I just couldn't stop thinking about how grateful I am for God's grace, and how very different my life has been since I invited Christ in.  I was lost and now I'm found.  Admittedly,  life here on earth isn't always happily-ever-after  rosy, and I'd be lying if I said it was.  But having Jesus makes all the difference.  He truly strengthens and comforts.  I know that I am a child of God.  I know that I am loved and forgiven (!)  My redeemer lives!  

So,  I thought maybe someone else might be feeling lost...someone else might chance on this blog - might be lead to read this post... and maybe this personal letter would lead them to search - as I did.  I pray that if it's you, that God puts the right people in your life to help you, to teach you, to show you.

But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deuteronomy 4:29

Another post from the archives - until I can get to writing again - which I sorely miss! Linking with Jennifer, Emily and Jen.


  1. Thank you so much for your courage in sharing this letter with your friend. We are only responsible for our actions not for the results and the kindness and gentleness of your spirit shone through.

    1. Letting go of the ability to control other people according to our ideas of how things should be - it's hard. Especially when we think we're right. This was a hard letter to write, and even harder to send - she hasn't answered me back, but she didn't cross me off her fb friends list either. I think about how many times my sister prayed for my salvation without my knowing - and I hope! Thanks for visiting, and for the encouraging comment. Hugs. Janet

  2. Oh Janet, I can relate to so much of your story here. I struggled with doubts like you, and used to think they were a sort of curse. But now, I think they were a gift, for they eventually drew me to study and to authors like C.S. Lewis, who pointed the way home.

    So grateful for your words today.

    1. I never would have thought of you as having doubts - isn't it wonderful how they get changed and turned around. Yes. Into gifts. And I am so grateful to be on the other side of those doubts. Finally. Grace is amazing and the story about the prodigal son is one of my favorites. For good reason. Have a blessed week. Janet


I know we probably haven't met in person, but I believe that the sharing of our ideas and thoughts, sometimes our hearts and souls, makes us more than strangers. I would like to say friends. Thank you for taking the time to contribute to my little space - I appreciate you.