The God I Never Knew
Okay, so I was not raised in a Christian family. But the picture here is from Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior’s north shore – that is where my life and God’s mercy finally intersected in my conscious mind when He let the air supply in my scuba hose get stopped while I was diving on a ship wreck in 60′ of water. At that point, I never knew God. I didn’t even know God existed. Correction: I did know, I was just really mad at Him, so I pushed Him away so He would not exist in my life. This is why I do not believe there are any true atheists in the world. There are those who are angry at God like I was, and keep Him away, and there are people who just don’t know God yet – we call them agnostics: “a” meaning without or against, and “gnostic” meaning knowledge. Back to reality…
So that day back in 1978, my diving buddy asked me if I wanted to pray before the dive. “Are you kidding me right now? Since when did I EVER need God? And why would I shoot meaningless words into the sky? And what could He do for me anyway? He was way too far away! Besides, all the things He COULD have done for me in my life up to that point HE chose not to! Why give me an alcoholic dad? Why all the anger and abuse? Why make my mom and dad divorce and marry EACH OTHER 3 different times? Why did I have to be born with a cleft palate? Why did my aunt molest me? And that is my short list.” So perhaps you see the source of my anger against God. That is also before I knew that one of God’s names is Emmanuel, which means “God with us.” He has been by my side – and YOUR side – every day of our life. NEVER has He left us! WE just give Him the cold shoulder.
“Somehow” I survived the mishap in Lake Superior which had every potential of doing me great harm if not death. That night back at the cabin with the rest of the diving crew, I could not sleep. I was faced with the question that few ever stop to ponder – “What if I had died that day in 60 feet of water, then what?” I had no answers.
At that time in my life I was into all kinds of Eastern Mysticism, pyramidology, alien worship, and the like. Now here is a great pause! I would not believe in the one true God, Who has loved me from the day I was conceived in His mind, but I would love beings that don’t exist, worship things that are lies – and I thought I was enlightened! Funny how the world deceives us!
A few weeks later I was driving into town (in Minnesota) to get ice for my dad and me for going out on the lake, and I remember driving past a church, and thinking, “Wait a minute! Churches have answers for that kind of question!” I pulled a u-turn, and drove into the parking lot – might I add that it “just happened” to be time for Sunday school to begin – God’s timing is always perfect!
The church was Calvary Memorial Church in Navarre, Minnesota. I was in my cutoff shorts and muscle shirt (not that I had many muscles, just wearing the shirt!) and was ushered to the youth group. For the first time I heard stuff that rocked my world – stuff Jesus did – healing blind people, healing crippled people, raising dead people. I was like, “You’ve got to be kidding me?!! Nobody ever told me this stuff before!” Or at least if they did, I wasn’t listening. Truly in a state of awe. Apparently I stuck out as the new kid. Not sure why…perhaps it was my UNSunday like appearance? Everybody else was in their Sunday best – suits, nice clothes, Sunday dresses, then there was Rick – cutoff shorts and t-shirt. Confession – still my preferred mode of dress! 🙂
So after the morning lesson the teacher/youth pastor came up to me and introduced himself to me. Then he asked me the strangest question: “Would you like to come back tonight?” I thought to myself, “You guys go to church twice in the SAME DAY? That is a TOTAL waste of time!” Then he said they were all going out to ice cream afterwards. I said “Sure I’ll come!” Can’t argue with ice cream, eh?
I cannot remember to this day what the evening service was like, but I do remember our time at this place on the shores of Lake Minnetonka called the “Soda Fountain.” It was there over ice cream that Randy Heinsch, Dwight Anderson and his brother Duane shared the Gospel of Jesus with me. The “gospel” means good news. The good news is this: Jesus came to give us life. More than just life. HE showed us how to live, and then gave us the Holy Spirit to heal us and guarantee us the new heaven and the new earth it talks about in Revelation 21.
Currently, we are hurt and dying. Spiritually we are already dead, the body is simply following the spirit to its death. Jesus reverses the spiritual death. In fact He told us in John 6:63 –
The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
Jesus’ words are spirit and life. Our human effort amounts to nothing in the long run.
The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. – Hebrews 7:18–19
He is not the distant rule enforcer. He is life giver. Redeemer. Forgiver. Healer.
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people…Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. – Titus 2:11–14
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. – Colossians 1:13–14
“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” – 1 Peter 2:24
But most of all, He loves. He IS love. Would you open your heart and mind and soul to the Giver of life, the Redeemer, He who would love to heal you and forgive you?
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us. – 1 John 4:7–10
This is the God I never knew! It took decades to get to know Him! You can too! It starts with a prayer. The prayer goes something like this….it is not the words that matter, it is the heart’s attitude in the prayer that matters:
Dear God – thank You for loving me. I am hurting, and I need Your healing. I am a mess and I need Your forgiveness. I am dying and I need Your Life to give me life. Your words are life and I invite You and Your words into my life and I give You total control. I no longer push You away – in fact I ask that You draw me near to You. I want to feel Your presence. I want to live my life Your way from here on out. Draw me into Your Words that I might know how to do that better I ask in Jesus Name! Amen!
If you just prayed that prayer for the first time I want you to do 2 things. 1) write down today’s date and time as when you began eternal life. Today is the day you became a Christian. Nice! 2) contact me so I can stay in touch with you and help you grow as a Christian. Life is not meant to live alone. God made us and designed us to live in community. So reach out and let me know how you are doing!