Today’s My Spiritual Birthday

[This day marks the day I was born. Not in the traditional sense. That actually comes in another 20 days. But in a much more real – in a truly eternal sense – this is the date of my birth. Here’s an updated post from the archives that explains it all … ]

***

Thirty-three years ago yesterday morning I was an atheist.

Thirty-three years ago yesterday afternoon I was a theist.

Thirty-three years ago today I became a Christian.

My Life as an Atheist

I grew up in the church. Sunday school as a kid, the church choir as a teen (the youngest male in the choir by decades), reading Scripture in the morning services.

By the time I hit my early twenties, my view on faith started shifting. After spending 2 1/2 years at a pair of community colleges I moved away to UC Santa Barbara. I thought I took my beliefs with me, but I was wrong.

Dead wrong ...

[The rest of my salvation story is just a click away.]

***

After you read the post, please come back here and join a conversation on having a relationship, or not, with God. Perhaps one of the questions below might help, but feel free to bring up anything that the post brought to mind:

Have you had radical changes in your belief in or understanding of God in your life?

What about the dinner conversation I had with my boss, the college Dean – have you had similar conversations on either end of that exchange?

What is God doing in your life at the moment?

***

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12 Responses to Today’s My Spiritual Birthday

  1. Happy spiritual birthday, Tim. I enjoyed reading your salvation story again. For me right now, the more I acknowledge my weaknesses (especially in parenting), the more I understand and experience God’s love. His mercies are new every morning; that’s what I count on.

    • Tim says:

      Those parenting lessons are hard ones to learn, Jeannie. I’m glad God is with us through them all, and I’m counting on his daily mercies right alongside you.

  2. Angie says:

    Happy Birthday!

    I, too, have had radical changes or at least came to understand God as more gracious and loving than how he was presented in my youth. Was there a time as an atheist that anything less than empirical evidence would not have satisfied? If so, what opened you up to hearing or sensing rather than requiring verifiable proof? Was it the paragraph you were rereading? If so, which one?

    • Tim says:

      I came to understand that I had a more philosophical opposition to God’s existence than an empirical one. I didn’t see how he could exist so I refused to consider that he might. It was nothing less than the Holy Spirit meeting me in that train car that proved his presence to me, just as if you walked up and sat down across the table from me for coffee, Angie. Perhaps even more so than that. That’s the way everyone comes to acknowledge God, through the ministry of the Spirit. It just happens differently in different people’s lives.

      P.S. I can’t recall what paragraph I kept trying to read. If you had asked me just a week after that train ride which paragraph it was I probably couldn’t have told you.

      • Angie says:

        Thanks for answering. I am speaking with someone who has left Christianity and embraced atheism. I am trying to understand that perspective. I completely understand what you are saying having had a similar experience myself. I can’t prove it was God’s love-confirming presence, but I am convinced of it. My starting point wasn’t atheism, though. Though this person continues to object on empirical grounds, I think it may have more to do with philosophical grounds. If it’s not pressing for too much, can you explain how you came by that understanding and how it was challenged? I continue to fervently pray the Holy Spirit make God through Jesus Christ known to this person but want to be equipped with understanding, too.

        • Tim says:

          I’m not sure how my philosophy of atheism developed, but the change was nothing but the Spirit introducing himself to me. It makes me think of Paul’s explanation about understanding spiritual matters:

          What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:12-14.)

      • Bill M says:

        “It just happens differently in different people’s lives.”
        Much agreement with that. In my case it wasn’t even discernible as I began one summer pondering God and ended that same summer as a believer and have no remembrance of any critical step in the process. That was over forty years ago, since then there have been twists and turns that have caused me to re-evaluate what I though was neatly tucked away. Without tying to sound trite, each time I find myself more unsure of many things yet more sure of who Jesus is.

  3. Happy Birthday, Tim! So glad I’ve gotten to know this Christian (by the way – “Christian” is my married name. 🙂 ). Your story reminds me so much of C. S. Lewis’s salvation story in Surprised by Joy – wasn’t he in a bus or a train when he met God? Also – The Screwtape Letters terrify me (I think I’ve mentioned that before). I read a bit a long time ago and had to put it down. I wonder what would happen if I tried to read that book again?

    • Tim says:

      I think it was when he rode atop a double decker bus, if I remember right. As for Screwtape, you might want to catch the stage production. We saw it with Max McLean and it was wonderful. It captured the themes well, but I think seeing it in company with a theater full of people would dilute the intensity of the reading experience.

  4. roscuro says:

    Enjoyed the story. Mine is long and convoluted (too long for a comment section) and any drama was internal and unseen. It still goes on. Right now, I think that yet more of the legalistic skin that I acquired in adolescence through being in a certain program (IBLP/ATI) is being shed. My mother once saw a snake shedding its skin, and she said it was bleeding from around its eyes, I suppose where the skin cells had been torn away around the delicate tissues. I think I’m bleeding from around my spiritual eyes a little. Everything is a bit fuzzy and I can’t always see clearly, but sometimes, when I’m not really thinking about it all, I’ll glance up and He is there and He is smiling.

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