Every Christian has a story of when her faith changes from head knowledge to heart knowledge, when she becomes convinced Jesus is the only possible way to be saved.
My story begins with a headboard and includes a Bible verse, a world religions course, and a pocket-sized Gideon New Testament.
It was a great headboard. There were shelves and reading lights where I stored my notebooks and favourite books for easy nighttime access.
One book in particular had a special place in my headboard. A red, pocket-sized Gideon New Testament.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. This story needs a bit of background.
One regular Sunday I took an enormous amount of notes in church. This does not mean it was either an unusually brilliant sermon or an especially important day. I often take notes in church. However, despite its normalcy I managed to document something I now see as the trigger to a discovery that changed my life.
The sermon highlighted Acts 4:1-12, finishing with a reference to Jesus’ words in John 14:6, “…I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
Puzzled, I wrote.
Question. Talking about Christianity as if it’s the antivirus to our sick world seems idealistic. Yeah, great idea. Unfortunately, we’re human and flawed and broken and sinful. Therefore, it’s not going to work. Right?
I wondered if Jesus really was the ONLY way to God. The idea struck me as harsh and not very open-minded. Isn’t grace available to anyone who asks?
Before university I was rarely exposed to anything outside of Christian ideology and I never thought to question anything I heard. But in university I learned of many new ways to view life, politics, and religion from professors and students alike. At first I resisted, then I was intrigued. By the end of my first year, I was confused. With all the different ways of looking at life, how does anyone know what to think or believe, or how one should act?
How do you know what you believe is right?
To combat my uncomfortable doubt, I took a world religions course. I thought knowing about different religions would help me understand different worldviews. I found the course interesting because it explained many cultural differences, which I didn’t see reason in before. Where there had previously been clashes at work or school, I could now understand different perspectives.
Shortly after fall semester I told my small group about my newly widened perspectives and accepted the challenge from my small group leader to read the Bible book by book.
He said, “You know a lot about other religions now, but you haven’t put the same energy into learning about the faith you were raised with. Why don’t you find out for yourself what you believe?”
Finally the red Bible in my headboard became a part of my daily life. Each night I turned on my reading light and read three chapters, highlighted verses that struck me, and took notes.
I started in the beginning. In this case Matthew. I noticed after writing questions prompted by my reading, I would find an answer a few chapters later. Reading books in their entirety opened my understanding to see the Bible in a new way—to relate with it on a deeper level than I had before.
By the time I reached John 14:6 again I took a different note.
This seemed so narrow, but I can see, finally, it is actually wide enough for everyone. Instead of despairing over the state of our broken world, I should admit I am a sinner and fully accept Christ.
It took until John 19, Jesus’ crucifixion, for me to notice I was no longer detached from the story. This story is my redemption story. It began in a stable 2,000 years ago and is still being written and now affected me directly.