How Have I Followed St. Patrick?
How have I followed St. Patrick’s example? Poorly, I confess. Until I was 57 years of age, I lived as if God didn’t exist. It was only a little over seven years ago that I became a child of God. Before then I knew God existed, but I was untouched, unmoved by that knowledge. About Jesus, I was agnostic. I was not saved.
As a child I was baptized into the Christian faith, but through the years the strength of my belief was weak. It waxed and waned, finally fading to nothing. During my college years, I even investigated other religions. Then in the early 1980s, I became ill with a sickness no one could diagnose. Off work and in the midst of despair, I read about every religion I could find. I examined Hinduism, Buddhism, Mormonism, and Islam. All were frauds. My wife pointed me to the book of Job and the Gospels. Then I prayed to God to cure me and He did.
But I soon returned to apathy, ignoring the God who’d answered my prayers. Many years later a new pastor came to my wife’s church and he invited me to hear his sermons. So I went. He preached about heaven and hell, eternal life and death. I read the books he suggested. I bought a new Bible and read it cover-to-cover. Then something happened.
I don’t remember when the realization hit me, but it did. My great epiphany came in two parts.
The first discovery was this: There is proof that the Bible is true. You see, truth is very important to me. I needed evidence. Was it real?
When I found the proofs it shook my world. I’ll mention two among many. First, the critics said there was no such people as the Hittites, yet archaeologists discovered their entire capital city buried beneath the sands of Bogaz-Koy, Turkey. Second, there exist some 61 major fulfilled prophecies concerning the Messiah. What are the odds of that happening without divine, supernatural intervention? Much less than if you collected all the subatomic particles in the universe—all the protons, electrons, neutrons, etc…—into one pile and tried to find a single, marked particle.
Yes, the Bible was real and I’d better take it seriously. My second great discovery concerned the nature of God and it was this: God is a being of perfect goodness and love. But He is also perfectly holy and just. And because God is perfectly good, perfectly holy, He cannot tolerate sin. And so a great gulf existed between this perfectly good God and me—an unbridgeable gap. And no matter how hard I might try, I would never be free enough of sin. But I realized God loved me, that He loves each of us with a love so great, we cannot comprehend it. And He wants me—He wants each of us—to be with Him in His heaven, for His plan is to create a people for Himself whom He can love and who will love Him. A people among whom He will dwell for all eternity. So I had to make a choice. I could choose eternal life. Or eternal death. Thus, I chose to follow Jesus and put my trust in Him. And I know that because Jesus rose to live again, when my physical body dies, I too will live again. But my new life will be for all eternity with Christ.
That was over seven years ago. I leave it to another post to tell you what I’ve done since then.