Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Itching For God - My Testimony

I was "saved" on the internet. Here's the breakdown:
One day, I woke up with very itchy hands and feet. It was annoying, but not yet overbearing. I went to work, but by noon, I couldn't stop itching my hands. I knew something was wrong, so I finally left work. I could barely drive home, because I had to switch hands on the steering wheel to alternate which hand would scratch the other. I got on the phone, and my doctor told me to get to the ER, since I was having an allergic reaction that could kill me.
The doctors never did fully diagnose what had happened, but in all probability, it was an allergic reaction between two medications I'd been taking.
The problem has never returned, but in the midst of my burning and itching, I wondered if there was some kind of spiritual significance to it all. Hadn't I heard somewhere that an itchy palm meant money was about to come your way? I liked money as much as the next guy, but realized that I wouldn't be able to enjoy spending it in this condition, since all my time had to be spent SCRATCHING!
The itching finally went away, but I was still curious, so I fired up my search engine, and punched in "the spiritual significance of itching."
No one particular site yielded anything special about itching, but as you might guess, there were some Christian sites that came up. At that point in my life, I was a lapsed Catholic, who still believed there was "some kind of power out there in the universe," but I was not at all convinced it was the God of the Bible. Of course, the whole Jesus thing went along with that Bible perspective, so I labelled myself "agnostic" in regards to the Son.
I was amazed at all the websites about Christianity. The last time I'd sincerely attended church, nobody had even heard of the internet. Now, in the privacy of my own basement, I could read as much as I wanted about Christianity, from every possible perspective. I suppose I could have gone to the library to look into such matters, but the internet offered a wealth of easily accessed information. Not only that, there was nobody pressuring me to come to a conclusion.
With that freedom to explore on my own terms, I decided to take a close look at this Jesus guy.
Here's a quick snapshot of where I was spiritually at this point: Somewhere in my late teens, I'd decided that there were probably many forms of truth - Christianity being only one of the paths to enlightenment. My spiritual journey throughout early adulthood had consisted of the 12 steps of recovery programs (I was a substance abuse counselor), a cursory look at Buddhism, and a light fascination with the teachings of Deepak Chopra. My favorite author, Tom Robbins, kept me entertained with his amazing command of word wizardry. His books reinforced my belief that spiritual truths could be found in many religious traditions, or in none at all. I would laugh all the way through his novels, delighted that someone else felt that spiritual depth could be found in sex, drugs, rock & roll, and overall wackiness.
Against that backdrop, I started reading about Jesus through numerous websites. I even dusted off my Bible, and read bits and pieces. Unfortunately, most of it was hard to understand.
Finally, I stumbled upon this website called They had an online movie called God's Story (watch it here). It's a visual outline of God's gradual revelations of himself from before creation, through our present age.
The movie got to the part where John the Baptist is at the Jordan river. He sees Jesus coming toward him, and they embrace each other, in joyful recognition. As I was watching, I felt the joy emanating from these two men. John's joy at being in the very presence of "the lamb that takes away the sins of the world," and Jesus' joy at seeing John's understanding of who Jesus was. This scene of two men hugging, one God, and one his creation, told me everything I needed to know about Jesus. The pure love expressed in their embrace symbolized the relationship between God and man. Right then, I knew in my heart that I was seeing Truth. I was witnessing LOVE. I was looking at a picture of how much God loves me, and how much joy I would know if I only accepted that love, and returned it.
That's when the Holy Spirit touched me, and lead me to Truth. No one was around to express it to right away, but a few days later, I got to share the news with my brother-in-law. I'd already said the sinner's prayer, but I don't think I really understood the magnitude of the decision I'd made until I shared it. Indeed, until I confessed my decision pubicly, I'm not sure how much it meant. I don't want to get in to a theological quandry over what one must do to be "saved," but Romans 10: 9-11 states:

That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart
that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart
that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess
and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be
put to shame."

I remember telling him something like: "Well Dave, I'm not sure of the words to use, but I guess I'm uh....saved!"
As a fellow Christian, he was delighted about the decision I'd made. He told me that a legion of angels were dancing in celebration of my Salvation (Luke 15:10)! We talked for a very long time, and I can't remember all the details. It didn't matter though. What mattered was that I was a brand new creation. My brother-in-law was now my brother in a much grander way. He was my brother in Christ, forever!
Life has changed much for me since the day I asked Jesus to come into my heart. I found a great Church, I attend a weekly men's Bible study, I try and read my Bible every day, and I pray constantly. I've learned that there is no end to the "layers" of depth in my walk with God. I've learned that I was not perfected at the point of Salvation, but Jesus has put me on that path.
I've learned that God uses a countless variety of methods to draw people to him through his Son. He used the internet to snare me - Thank God!
The only thing that all his methods have in common is that the receiver must ACCEPT the gift he offers. The Bible tells us that God will attempt to call us to him, but he will not force us to respond. Is it possible God has lead you to my testimony today? Are you facing the greatest opportunity of your existence as you read this? Only God knows. Why don't you ask him.

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