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How do I know for sure God even exists?

I grew up in Ohio.  When I was in high school, I decided I wanted to attend a college far away from home, and experience a different part of the country.  So, I followed my then boyfriend to the University of Texas in Austin, where he had also been accepted. I liked the large school environment and especially the warmer weather.  Freshman year was fairly easy, and a lot of fun.  Life was good.

As for my thoughts about God, I remember thinking that pastors and priests were crazy for dedicating their life vocation to the service of someone you couldn’t see or hear or touch, and who maybe didn’t even exist.  I also remember thinking that most religious people were just “weak” and insecure.

I thought of myself as “a pretty good person,” secure and self-confident.  I had never been to prison, and had never murdered anyone.  I tried to be nice to people.  So, if there actually was a place called “Heaven,” I figured I was good enough to get in.

As I mentioned, I had a boyfriend in high school, whose name was Clay, and we had been seriously dating for 2 ½ years.  But, at the beginning of my sophomore year in college, when I was 19, Clay and I made a mutual decision to “take a break” in our relationship and “date around.” God used this window of availability to reach out to me. 

I began meeting new people.  In one of my classes, I met a guy named Mark, who later asked me out.  On that date, we got to talking about Christianity.  Unlike me, Mark was a strong Christian, and knew the Bible well.  Although he was a “religious person” he was definitely not weak or insecure!  On the contrary, he was gregarious, confident and mature.  And, he told me things about God that I had never heard before in my very liberal church upbringing.

One of the things I remember saying to Mark was, “How do I know for sure God even exists?  If God would just do a miracle right in front of me, then I would believe in Him.”

Mark’s answer took me off guard.  He said, “He already did do that."

I thought, “What are you talking about?” 

Mark explained that, “Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is a miracle.  No one else has ever done that… predicted they would die and come back to life three days later, and then done it!  He is unique.  And that proves Jesus’ divinity.  God did that miracle for the whole world to see.  Now, it’s your move!”

I thought to myself, ‘if Jesus really did come back alive again, after being dead for three days, then He has been to the ‘other side,’ and He knows empirically, what happens after death. If He is God, then He wouldn’t lie or be wrong.  What He says is absolute truth.  He knows what is required for eternal life, and I would do well to listen to Him and heed His words."  I was afraid of death, and wanted to be assured that I would go to Heaven when I died.

Mark also explained that I wasn’t qualified to get into Heaven on the basis of my good deeds.  God is a just God, as well as a loving God.  Sin must be punished. So, unless I was perfect, or wanted to pay for my own sins in eternity, I needed a Savior who could cleanse me from my sins. 

Well, at the time, I had a pretty exalted opinion of myself, but I still had to admit that I wasn’t “perfect!”  In high school, my relationship with my mother had been pretty “stormy” and I knew it was mostly my fault.  Mark explained that Jesus was perfect.  He didn’t die as punishment for his own sins, he voluntarily died to pay for the sins of the whole world.  He experienced separation from God, the Father, as my substitute, so I wouldn’t have to.

Mark suggested we pray, so we did. I was a little afraid of what I was getting myself into, but everything Mark had said had made a lot of sense to me.  I figured, “What do I have to lose?  It is worth a try.”  I asked Jesus to forgive me of all my sins, past, present, and future.  I thanked him for dying on the cross to pay for my sins, and I asked Him for the gift of eternal life.

I realize now that it wasn’t praying which caused me to become a Christian, it was believing. Praying was just a way for me to express my faith, and verbalize who and what it was I had put my trust in, for the very first time.

After we prayed, there were no lightning flashes, or angels that appeared.  In fact, I kept thinking, “This is really weird, to be talking about God and praying on a date!”  But, within the first couple of weeks after that date, God confirmed to me that I had a new relationship with Him as His child, and that I had done the right thing by believing in His Son, Jesus. Clay and I never did get back together.  However, Mark became a good friend and helped me to grow in my faith.  

I began reading in the New Testament, and I couldn’t get enough of it.  I was learning so much, and so many of my questions about life, death, love and God were being answered.  Now, I knew that God existed from the inside, because His Holy Spirit was living inside me.  God was answering my prayers and making Himself even more real to me. It was a very exciting time in my life!  

God also refined my understanding of dating and marriage before introducing me to my husband, eight years later.  To read more about that, click on the essay, 

God, Heaven and Being "In-Love" 

Since coming to know Christ, personally, my life has been infinitely better, and I have never been the same.  I am a very "grateful Sue."



gratefulsue 

12.10.11

Copyright (c) October 15, 2013