I rarely went to church, rarely read my bible, and never really prayed, but I was more or less a Christian. Believing in God was never a problem for me, but my faith in Jesus Christ, my belief that He truly is the Son of God and that he truly did die on the cross for my sins, well, sometimes I had my doubts. I believed because that’s how I was brought up, because I was (more or less) of the Baptist faith and that’s just part of the doctrine, that’s just how we rolled. The older I got, however, the less satisfied I became with this childhood simplicity. I wanted to believe because I felt it in my heart not because of my fear of disbelief. About six months after the nightmare I got my wish.
I had always been searching. During my college years I enrolled in a survey of the Old Testament course but dropped it halfway through the semester. Granted, I failed to earn anything higher than a “C” in the class, but my main reason for walking away was the effect it had on my faith. By the time we finished the Book of Genesis, I remember thinking that God didn’t sound very, well, nice. The class debates flew way over my head as I daydreamed about anything and everything but God. In the end I figured I knew enough about the bible, and besides, all that really mattered was the New Testament so who needed the Old, right?
They described themselves as goddess worshipping Wiccans…
Near the end of my college career I found myself surrounded by a group of self-proclaimed pagans whom I had committed myself to interviewing. I worked for the college newspaper and had reached out to a coven of witches for a feature story. We met over dinner, and suffice to say, I was ill-prepared for the interview. They described themselves as goddess worshipping Wiccans but I quickly realized that none of them held the same religious beliefs. I met with about five of them: one druid, a couple of Wiccan witches, and two run of the mill free-style pagans. As they went around the table describing their different belief systems and rituals, I did find one area where they all agreed. They boasted about their willingness to accept nearly all forms of worship and religion, their openness and love for one another, for nature, for animals, for the whole of mankind, but Christianity, not so much. Christians, it would seem, were suppressive, ignorant, narrow-minded, judgmental hypocrites who were responsible for all their childhood trauma and angst. When I offered my religious affiliation, I was, of course, different. And they were right.
I felt like I’d failed to represent my faith, like I’d been outsmarted and outwitted…
I was a pot-smoking, rock-n-roll listening, pro-choice Christian who supported gay marriage and despised the Republican Party. I was a free-thinking liberal who knew very little about the Word of God, but enough to know that the bible had obviously been corrupted by man to conform to some king’s agenda. The party of pagans, of course, agreed. In fact, they knew more about the Word of God than I did. Having all been raised by Christian families, my newfound pagan friends were well-versed in the bible, Old and New. They’d done their research and knew exactly who (or what) they were serving. When asked why I chose to remain a Christian, I quietly stirred my mixed drink before looking up and shrugging, “I don’t know, faith, I guess.” I left the restaurant feeling very much inadequate, not only as a journalist but also as a Christian. I felt like I’d failed to represent my faith, like I’d been outsmarted and outwitted by a group of Dungeons and Dragons playing outcasts who were, no doubt, dorks in their respective high schools, but they were well-informed dorks, and I, well, I was an ignorant, judgmental hypocrite. Years later, my search for religious truth finally came to a head.
I survived (although just barely) the film Zeitgeist, a movie which claims that Christianity was derived from ancient religions, and that the story of Jesus is a hybrid of varying pagan sun god religions. The more You Tube videos I watched, and the more books I read about ancient aliens, and the more programs I watched on television, the higher the weeds grew. I even researched the religion of Islam and wondered if maybe they were right after all. Maybe Jesus really wasn’t the Son of God, and maybe he really was just a prophet, and maybe the whole resurrection story was nothing but a well-written fairytale. I remember the moment clearly. My heart sank into the pit of my stomach at the thought of it, at the thought of my entire religious doctrine being false, but I wanted the truth. No matter how painful, come hell or high water, I would find religious truth.
Have you accepted Jesus Christ into your heart lately?
It was my day off from work and I needed a break. I had spent the morning alone smoking weed and watching a variety of You Tube videos all claiming to know the truth. 9/11, the bankers, the New World Order, the Luciferian Agenda, The Illuminati, the Freemasons – I needed a break, and a beer. I drove up to the neighborhood drug store for a box of smokes and a six pack. After obtaining the goods, I lit a cigarette and noticed a homely-looking woman walking toward my car. Dressed in plain brown clothing, she stood by the passenger-side door and motioned for me to roll down the window. I obliged. “I usually don’t do this,” she said, “but for some reason I felt the need to come over here.” Yeah, okay, I thought, here it comes. “Have you accepted Jesus Christ into your heart lately?” Surprise, surprise. “Yes, I have,” I answered. “Recently?” she asked. “Uh, no,” I stuttered. “Would you like to right now?” she asked. “We can pray together right now if you’d like.” I chuckled a bit and shook my head, “no,” I answered, “I’ll do it when I get home.” The woman smiled and backed away from my car as I rolled up the window and drove away. When I got home I cracked open a beer, smoked some more weed, and continued my You Tube quest for truth. I did not, however, ask Jesus into my heart.
A few months later my uncle died. His funeral was held at a quaint ocean-side chapel unknown and unlisted on most maps. Mom and I sat in comfortable silence as we neared our destination, the overgrown forests of north Houston giving way to the flat farmlands of the Coastal Plains. The drive took us a little over two hours, and with me riding passenger spouting off directions, it’s a miracle we arrived on time. It had been about six months or so since the nightmare, and although it nagged at my daily thoughts, I resisted the urge to analyze it too much. After all, my search for truth didn’t include night visions.
We piled into one of the middle pews and waited for the pastor to begin the services. I loved my uncle dearly but glared at the freemason symbol propped up against his coffin, disgusted that such a symbol was even allowed in a church. They don’t know any better, I told myself. My uncle was a God-fearing Christian man, and if he’d known what the symbol really stood for, if he’d known what the freemasons were really about there’s no way he would have joined the organization. The funeral service drew to a close and we bowed our heads in prayer. “I don’t normally do this during a funeral service,” the pastor stated, “but God has put this on my heart.” He then proceeded to ask if there was anyone who needed to ask Jesus into their hearts, if there was anyone who needed to be saved. “Just raise your hand,” he said. “Everyone’s eyes are closed so just raise your hands up.” Hesitantly, I raised my hand into the air.