1037 words

An atheist who believed in science, that all things must be proven and seen with my own eyes; a sceptic who did not believe in spirits or spiritual things, be it gods or ghouls — that was me as a young adult.

During my university years, I was invited to join a group of hikers to go for a week’s hike, and it was during the hike that I realised that there must be a Creator; for even in the deepest jungle where no civilisation had touched, everything was marked by perfect order and beauty, and I started wondering.

The words of the hymn, “How Great Thou Art”, reflect what I felt:

"When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze."

I realised that there is a God and that things did not just fall in place so perfectly by random movements of molecules. Coming down from the mountain, I started searching for God by grabbing and reading any religious material that I could get my hands on, and also began asking various people around me from various religious and cultural backgrounds.

After some time, I got my hand on a Bible. Reading the Bible from Genesis to Revelation as an unbeliever, two things stood out:
Firstly, that God’s standard is high. Humans have failed.
And secondly, that despite all the failures, the holy and almighty God gave us a gift.

These are some verses that impressed me:
John 3:16-17
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved."

Isaiah 53:6
"All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all."

Romans 3:23
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."

Romans 6:20
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Really? That easy? Just believe and be saved? Do we not need to do a list of things to please God first?

And I found my answers in Ephesians 2:8-22 & Romans 3:24-31. I quote the words of Ephesians 2:8-9 here:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Again, “How Great Thou Art” expresses my thoughts for me:

"And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin."

Struck by the realisation of how innately sinful and helpless I was, and by the preciousness of the gift of God, I knelt down and thanked God for my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

From that day onwards, I started reading the Bible all over again with new eyes and a new heart. I started too, to seek out all the Christians around me whom I used to shun and roll my eyes at. I am cringing with shame and guilt even as I type these words at the moment, thinking of how I treated the Christians. I finally realised what gift they had been trying to share with me and how blind I was.

The words of 1 Peter 2:2-3 describe my desire as a new Christian:
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

So do the words of the last stanza of the hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”:

"Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all."

After a few months had passed, I realised too that I should go “somewhere” to be gathered with other Christians and start to “grow”. My first “church” was a Charismatic Methodist church. I was baptised and started serving vigorously in the congregation, attending every Bible class, workshop, seminar and prayer group, and reading any Christian books in the church library that I could get my hands on.

Along the way, I started seeing that there was a great discrepancy between what is written in the New Testament of the Bible and the practices in the charismatic Methodist “church”. I questioned all those who were around me and over me in the system regarding the verses in the Bible and our practices. Somewhat taken aback by some of the answers given to me, I started seeking and searching for more answers. As a young believer, I could not believe nor comprehend how we were to brush off some of the instructions given in the Bible as culturally different from or irrelevant to us today.
Are we really to pick and choose what we like as Lot did with his eyes? Are we to find our own solutions as Sarah when she asked Abram to take her handmaid?

Once again, I started questioning every Christian around me, far and near, by written letter or in person.
One day, a dear brother told me, that there are people who gather according to the New Testament principles.

The final stanza of the hymn “Trust and Obey” is the conclusion of my journey:

"Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we'll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey."

I leave you with a verse of my appreciation concerning my walk with the Lord:
2 Timothy 2:13
''If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful; He cannot deny Himself."

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