Don’s Story

For most of my life, I was a dyed-in-the-wool atheist, or at least a serious doubter that there’s anything more to our world than what we can see and touch.  In the home I grew up in, God was never discussed or even mentioned, and we never went to church.  So my thoughts about God were few and far between, and mostly skeptical—I figured I was basically on my own, and my life would be whatever I could make of it, and then I would die and that would be it.  I avoided thinking about my death because if I dwelled on it I would get really depressed.  Life seemed pretty meaningless, as far as I could see.

I operated in this mode for a very long time, through college, marriage, the birth of my two wonderful daughters, college again (!), and career change.  Despite all the good things I was experiencing (and I have been blessed with a lot of them), I could never find satisfaction for very long.  I flitted from one hobby to the next—each would interest me for a time, but nothing I did ever gave me any sense of purpose or peace.

My way of thinking began to change in 2002.  That’s when a building began to rise up in a large open field we often passed by near our home here in Charlotte.  A sign in the field read “Harvest Community Church”.  I paid little attention to it (“just what we need, another church in the Bible belt”), but my daughters began to pester me about going to this new church when it was completed.  I tried to ignore them and hoped they would forget about it.  They didn’t—and my wife was also in favor of going!  Suffice it to say that I lost out and we began going to church in November 2002.  I was still hoping it would be a fad that would soon fade away.

I began to learn about what the Bible says about God, and who Jesus is, and how God created us for a purpose.  I was told that God has a plan for my life, and for each person’s life.  I wasn’t sure whether I believed that or not, but I started reading the Bible, really for the first time in my life.  I found that I wanted to learn more about God and Jesus—I started reading other books about them.  And I started to change my attitude about “religion”.  I discovered that my long-held beliefs, which I was so sure were right, might need to be re-examined.

A turning point came for me one night when I overheard my daughter Alicia praying—for the very first time!  My immediate reaction was to thank God—I was suddenly filled with a happiness and love that surprised me.  It seemed as though a switch had been flipped within me, and I knew that I needed God and I needed to put my trust in Him and to accept Jesus as my Savior.  I did so the next day, and I am so glad that I did.

So what difference does faith make in my life?  Two things stand out:  Purpose, and freedom.  I now know that even though it might not always seem like it, there is a purpose for which I was created; God wants me to seek Him and to fulfill the plan He has for me.  To serve Him is the highest purpose we could possibly want.  As for freedom, it comes from knowing that I don’t need to worry about my life, and that God is always in control.  What a relief it is to know that!

Faith doesn’t mean that everything is suddenly perfect, of course.  I have struggles in some areas of my life, and probably always will.  But I know that they won’t defeat me, because I am in the Lord’s hands and the Bible says that nothing in heaven or on earth can separate us from the love that is in Christ Jesus.  And I believe that.