This is a new blog, and I’m in the process of rediscovering myself, Easter is around the corner and it always makes me remember my “Born Again” story, (My Christian walk started on Easter, when I was 15 years old) so it is fitting that I start this journey with you with this post.
It’s a necessity to give you a quick recap of my life before I was a follower of Christ for you to understand the power of this story. I’ll go in more details in other blog posts, but for this one, that background is needed.
I did not grow up in a Christian household, but was familiar with it. From time to time my dad will feel guilty in life and try to get squared off with God, before going right back to his ways. God’s timing is funny sometimes as he always put someone in his path. For a few years it was a man named Larry that did house visit bible studies weekly for two years. My dad grew up in a church environment, and did the bible studies and talking the talk…at times. Behind closed doors he used scripture incorrectly and out of context to control people and do whatever he wants (wife submit, children obey, I can be forgiven of my sins) An abusive father preaching about God is not appealing. I grew to hate him and God. (NOTE: To this day I have forgiven my father, and love him. We do not have a relationship, but I do not wish anything ill towards him and still pray for him)
Fast Forward to my teenage years
My dad was at it again. Depressed and sought out church to comfort him of whatever he was feeling guilty about at the time. This soon led to us all going to church. I sat around people that I scorn and hated. I was an atheists, and while I didn’t particularity like church or cared about the message, I hated being at home even more, so I jumped on every opportunity to go to church on Sunday and Wednesday nights. This was guaranteed time away from home, because I would use the old trick of playing to my dad’s image against him if he wouldn’t let me go.
One evening my dad picked me up after track practice and had to meet with the pastor of the church. As I sat in the pews of the church, a group of Southern Baptist women called me over and started the cute elderly ways of trying to reach out to the youth. Conversation led to the fact that I liked acting, and was asked to be a part of their Easter program. Hey, I liked acting and it would get me out of the house, so I said yes. It didn’t matter to me that I was faking my faith, I was given another way to get out of the house. Great the women said as they inviting the 16 year old, long haired, emaciated, teenage atheist to the team. “We have the perfect role for you……..John the Disciple!” (You really thought they were going to give me the role of Jesus, didn’t you?) Great, I get to leave the house more, really had no lines to memorize, and get to slide more into this church environment undetected of being a poser.
Little did I know that God was working here. Two weeks before the Easter program, the dude playing Jesus bails. (I have asked my former youth leader and we have no clue who was playing Jesus) Well as it turns out these ladies had an emaciated, long haired teenage actor, already in the cast, and really how important is John the Disciple in this story? (BAM, Gothca!) These women just asked the atheist, to play Jesus Christ, their Load and Savior, their Messiah, their Son of God, for the Church’s Easter program. (What the HELL where thinking. What the HELL was I thinking.) I‘m tying so hard to fit in, so how could I not take the part.(Plus my ego said, its the lead role!!!) I had a pretty good grasp of most the bible from Sunday school and some of my previous encounters of Christians in the past, but I always avoided the fairy tales of the Gospels. I knew, rules and laws, and proverbs and the practical stuff in the Bible, but I did not know anything about Jesus other than the fact that he WAS a real dude, and the events in which took place WHERE real.
I read the “big four” over the next couple of weeks and it meant nothing to me. I still did not care. Easter Sunday roles around and we began. God allowed an atheist kid, who was not popular, who was not the best or brightest, not really much of anything in the standards of the world to play the part of Christ in a Southern Baptist Church. The poor overacting of some fumbling over some lines made me only mildly nervous, so I was not prepared for what was to come next. As I come down the aisle painted up to look bloody, the real whip (WHY? ITS A CHURCH PROGRAM!) came around and made contact on my tiny little fragile teenage body. I came crashing down, heavy cross and all into the corner of a pew and hit my head, and got as gnarly rug burn on my knee. I was embarrassed and crying and in pain and humiliated, and uncomfortable, and scared and for the first time in my life realized that I know for a fact that Jesus was a man, and that he was staked to a cross because he believed he was the Son of God, and was paying the price for our sins, and for the first time in years I felt loved. What if this was real, what if Jesus died for my sins because he loved me. For the first time in my life I was surrounded by people, and was feeling the same feeling as I was. I had no doubt in my mind that God was real and that Jesus was his Son and he died for me. I didn’t know what any of that meant, but I was relieved inside.
Reflecting on this reminds me of what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:26-30.
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
I remind myself daily that God has a standard that is not of this world, and God will and can use the lowly, weak, and foolish things of this world to bring glory to His name, that the power of Jesus can reserve a spot at his table for the worst of us. It Is because of Jesus I have become a part of something more, something greater, and something worth boosting about.
This is my “Born Again” story, where God used an atheist teenager, to show others His story, and then changes his life.