Who was Jesus to me? He was a storybook character like Santa Claus and Prince Charming.
I went to Sunday school and endured goofy flannel-board stories narrated by ladies that seemed very old. At age 12, I quit going to Sunday school and church. My parents didn’t question why. Faith was never discussed in our house. You went to school on weekdays, the YMCA on Saturday and church on Sunday. Now my Sundays were free!
Decades passed. My life looked perfect. In reality, many mornings I woke up angry, but didn’t know why. Time slogged by as I guzzled alcohol, studied Buddhism, attended Avatar (not the movie, but a thought system), consumed legal and illegal drugs, used sarcasm, babbled to a psychologist, left my husband temporarily, babbled to another psychologist, yadda, yadda, yadda…I’ve broken every one of the 10 commandments.
Once in a while, I visited churches where phrases like “covered in the blood of the lamb” and sad lyrics of hymns remained indecipherable to me. My super-religious relatives (by marriage) refuse to visit us for Thanksgiving dinner if we serve wine. If that’s Christianity, I didn’t want any.
Even so, I knew there is a god and was so in awe of him or her or it that when people asked, “What are you?” I squirmed. Atheist was too final. Agnostic seemed dodgy. Buddhist didn’t fit either.
Meanwhile, a clot of grief throbbed near my heart, as though someone I loved had died. I worried that my black thoughts were radiating from me like poison. I was afraid my rotten inner world would give me cancer. Nothing I’d tried changed me. By the time I reached middle age, I dreaded trudging through the rest of my life if the future was going to be more of the same.
Then, six years ago, a Christian friend told me about an Alpha class at her church.
You see, Nicky Gumbel was a barrister (Brit for lawyer). One day Nicky’s buddy told him he’d accepted Jesus as his savior. Appalled, Nicky studied the Bible and other sources to be able to prove his friend wrong.
As you can guess, Nicky found evidence and corroboration. He became a believer, an ordained priest and presenter in the Alpha DVD series.
Nicky is the first person to explain Bible stuff in a way that made sense to me. Plus, he cited other corroborative sources. (It doesn’t hurt that he’s cute, funny, articulate and smart.)
After the first Alpha class, I wrote in my journal: “I believe Jesus was more than a man. I accept He is the Son of God. This acknowledgment has lifted my heavy, dark, judgmental cloud. The weight that lifted was from my futile effort to ignore and disregard the two billion-plus Christians living today and the 2000-plus years of Christian history and tradition.”
My husband was blindsided when I crossed the line of faith. He said, “I’m worried about the consequences.” He was afraid I would become like his religious kin and start talking in an odd accent about Hittites and begin laying down ultimatums.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26 NIV) My new heart is beating, and Holy Spirit rewired my mind.
Who is Jesus to me? He’s my lifesaver.