I was brought up in the standard 'vaguely Christian' english way- hymns at morning assembly, harvest festival, the scramble to be Mary in the nativity play. Religion didn't trouble me overly much until I started attending an Christian public school in my mid teens. At that age you're desperate for a group to fit in to, and I remember making a very positive decision to believe in God at 16.
Being an evangelical institution, there was great focus on having a 'personal relationship' with Christ. I was told that once you accepted Jesus as your saviour the Holy Spirit would bless you and live within you. People would testify to this in prayer meetings and at the school's Christian Union, sometimes on the verge of tears, and it was something I fervently wanted for myself.
It never happened though. I believed, I prayed, read my Bible, asked Jesus to come into my heart, fasted, everything I could think of or was advised to do, and still nothing. It took me years to realise that the door I was knocking on was not only locked, but didn't exist in the first place; it was nothing more than a scribbled drawing of a doorknob on a solid wall.
As an atheist, I now ask this question of Christians I fall into debate with; why did God ignore me? I was hardly the world's greatest sinner, and I sincerely wanted God in my life, begged him to make use of me in his work. Why would he turn me down? I can be flippant about it now, but it was very distressing at the time. I sometimes get answers in the 'mysterious ways' vein, but most believers lay the blame at my door.I wasn't sincere, or didn't pray hard enough, or didn't use the correct form of words. So the impression I'm left with is that the whole thing is either some sort of blindfolded obstacle course, or completely reliant on God's whim.
Of course, the real answer is rather simple- I'm just not very good at deluding myself.
Filed Under: Testimonials