As I progressed in my Biblical knowledge, I began to feel increasingly anxious and confused. Many of the stereotypical arguments I had against organized religion, Jesus also had against Judaism. How could I agree with Jesus? In my earlier study on Christianity, I concluded that Jesus was likely an eccentric man who became a legend or folk hero. However, my latest research was revealing a much more complex figure. Jesus seemed to embody the character traits that I had observed in people like Harry Whitehead.
The more I read about Jesus, the more I liked His style. In fact, I read about Jesus so often that I started to spontaneously quote Him during business meetings, when it was applicable to the discussion, then felt awkward as co-workers paused with surprise. Everyone at work and in our neighborhood knew that I was undecided about my religious beliefs. I would tell them I was a “student of religion” when they asked directly.
Exhilarated by the amount of Biblical data I had amassed and the intriguing character of Jesus which was emerging, I eagerly studied as if I was deciphering the code to an unknown puzzle. The closer I came to breaking the code, however, the more difficult my life became. When I focused on making money, life was grand, but as I focused on learning about God, I felt like I was being punished. Initially I felt punished through nightmares, which progressed into disturbing real-life events. My relationships at work began to strain for no apparent reason, my personal finances began to spiral out of control, and then the company I worked for suddenly ran out of money and eliminated my position. One bad event after another seemed to occur. Friendly relations with our neighbors began to sour. Unexplained rumors of infidelity on my part were surfacing. Everything I worked for was under attack! My marriage, my career, and my finances were suddenly falling apart.
Rather than give up on my Biblical studies, the unfolding tragedy made the messages even more relevant. I was finally experiencing spiritual manifestations in my life, which prompted further inquiry. Why would bad things happen in my life as a result of my learning about the Bible and Jesus? Who or what would want to keep me from this information? Could the Bible really be true? Is Jesus the source of good character? Could the battle between Satan and God be real? Whose side of the battle am I on?
The increasing magnitude of my questions began to haunt me, as the intensity of my situation increased day by day. The more I suffered, the more the Bible came alive. What were once confusing and cryptic passages became revealed understanding. My well-reasoned arguments against the existence of God suddenly seemed like a foolish deception. Was I still undecided?
The battle for my soul was in full force before my thirty-third birthday. During my final days as an undecided student of religion, I was tormented by voices in my head, threatening and bullying me into giving up. I could no longer explain away my circumstances as merely bad luck. What I once considered to be pure religious fantasy had manifested itself in my life. This was no longer the theoretical concept of a spirit world that I had discussed in academic circles. It was real and tangible. I began to realize that I was a prisoner of darkness and in bondage by my own philosophy. Not only did my own circumstances become clear, I also realized that I was a disciple of deception without even knowing it. Remaining undecided about God made me a perfect weapon of Satan’s to cause confusion among those weak in their faith. I spun a web of deception and planted seeds of doubt in the unsuspecting. Evil gained many footholds because of my efforts, but the game of lies had come to an end, just as my life began to crumble. It is a very frightening feeling to be disoriented when visiting a new city, or when attending a new school, but when your entire concept of human existence is found to be wrong, the resulting disorientation can be overwhelming.
The world we think we know as Atheists, we do not really know at all. The control over our lives that we think we have as Atheists, we do not really have. In fact, most of the world’s theories and concepts are meaningless without using spirituality as the basis. As a Christian, I know this to be true. Yet, as a former Atheist, my understanding of the universe was based on amassing a large array of leading philosophical and scientific theories into a single theorem which explained nearly every conceivable question, but not all.
My theorem could not answer why Harry Whitehead whistled as he passed out slices of his marvelous sweet potato pie, or why happiness cannot be achieved through career accomplishment or material possession. Just as my mind was nearing the end of three decades of computing, trying to lock onto the secret password of life, God entered my life. Still an Atheist at the time, God provided two dramatic visions over a two-day period that made it clear to me that my analysis had come to an end and that He expected a decision. Was I a follower of Jesus, or a disciple of deceit? The impact of my second vision instilled a true sense fear and understanding for the power of God. My analysis had ended and I did make a decision to follow Jesus.
As the sun rose over the Wasatch mountain range in front of my home, I stepped into the shower to prepare to go to church. It was now Sunday morning and I was determined to get to one of the only Christian churches in Salt Lake City, to ask God to come into my life and become baptized in water before the congregation. I had only stepped foot into a church building a handful of times over my lifetime, so getting baptized before an entire congregation of people I had never met was not my idea of a good time. Yet, I could hear God whisper to me that my time had come. In contrast, I could also hear the mocking slander of Satan belittling me for my decision to accept Jesus.
At this moment the spirit world became real for me. My greatest enemy was behind me as the Holy Sprit led me to the truth. Although this was the beginning of my life as a Christian, the spiritual battle over my soul had just begun.
Contributed by John R. Maculley, Jr.: [email protected] John is a new Christian, having converted from Atheism in February 2005, one week before his 33rd birthday. He has spent his life studying philosophy and searching for truth in cultures throughout the world. He is currently working on his first book, entitled: “Searching for the Source”, which outlines the mental process an Atheist goes through when considering spirituality.
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