The recent article I shared about an atheist professor becoming a Christian jogged my mind to remember a snippet of my own testimony.
It is Term 1, third year of my Arts Degree, UQ. A sweltering day in late February. I am about to embark on a year’s lectures in Philosophy of Religion.
I enter the small room in the philosophy building and look around curiously. A man sits, arms crossed, on the desk. My tutor, I assume.
I join the group of about ten sitting in a circle. A few nuns and priests, other interested students like me.
The man at the desk – my tutor – defines the next two years of my life with his opening sentence.
“If you believe in God, you’re wrong and you’ll fail,” he announces.
The words fall like doom on my ears. I’ve already failed one unit, not having realised it would be mainly maths, so I’m carrying an extra unit and I need to pass them all. Butterfly wings beat against the walls of my stomach. I wonder if the truth shows on my face like measles or sheer terror.
I believe in God!
A battle of wills ensues for the coming six months. The tutor requires me to write and deliver a paper to the group, explaining why I believe. At this stage I am not a Christian. I come from a beautiful but ungodly home. However I've had several experiences where God has intervened in my life. I know without doubt He is real.
The tutor laughs at my paper. “Oh, come on,” he says, “Can you see him? Can you touch him?” His voice is mocking. I blush.
We continue to battle in tutorials for six months.
Correction: he wins this round.
After six months’ battling, I am an atheist. For eighteen months I believe religion is a crutch. I enjoy a peculiar sense of freedom. After all, I can do whatever I want now. Can’t I?
Despite my various hedonistic and creative pursuits, I become increasingly aware of a gnawing emptiness inside me. I’m hollow. Lonely despite the boyfriends, the parties, the friends.
For reasons I don’t understand, my world begins to crumble. I feel even more hollow. I hit rock bottom a few times but bounce back up. I prepare to travel.
I’m ready to leave for England when, without any warning and at great inconvenience to me, God’s Presence intervenes in my life again. And I know it is Him. My plans turn to sawdust. I’ve felt this Presence before. There’s no getting away from it. Him.
I become a Christian.
It takes me two and a half years to get through the culture shock and say happily, “Jesus is Lord.” But I do it.
Like C.S. Lewis, I am a reluctant convert. I sink ungraciously into an armchair and say to the empty chair nearby (and to the Presence which has come with me to my new flat), “Well, you win!”
A reluctant convert. But to my surprise I haven’t been a reluctant Christian. I’m not a person to do things by halves. I’ve never turned away. How can one, when one knows the Truth? God pursued me a la The Hound of Heaven – and I am now a God chaser!
And I am blessed!