This is a copy of a post I made elsewhere (I couldn’t help tidying up the grammar here and there). It is the story of my conversion to Christianity.
I freely recognise that my recollections of the events I describe are probably coloured by the interpretations I have placed on them since. Nevertheless, I will do my best to tell things as they happened.
There was a time when I believed in God because people around me told me He was there. As I grew up, I became very sceptical, almost to the point of atheism. At 19 years old I came to a point where I decided I needed to what my life was really all about. I started to reassess everything in my life: my tastes, my dreams, my sexuality, my beliefs about God, my skills, my friendships… God was just something else on the list.
Eventually, I got around to the God question. At that time, I was more concerned with living in reality rather than favouring any particular interpretation of reality. On a friend’s suggestion, I went along to my University Christian Union.
In all the arguments that the Xians put forward, two things stood out to me. Someone had suggested that the whole Xian thing worked for her. That impressed me. Someone else said I should ask God to show himself to me. That sounded daft, as I did not believe God was real, but it still niggled at me.
After a couple of weeks I was persuaded that the people I met there were nice, honest but completely deluded. I decided that enough was enough. As I walked home from a dinner engagement with some of the Xians I had met, I decided that I would let them know I was not interested anymore and to move on to something else.
That night I was in bed, thinking over the day + the God question. It occurred to me that, in the unlikely event that God was real, he might be interested in revealing Himself. I realised that such a revelation was unlikely to be in the physical world. But I had recently started writing poetry. It came from somewhere within. My “spirit”, if you like. I wondered if that part of me might not contain a clue, some kind of maker’s mark. So as I lay there, I looked within, and asked God to show himself if he was really there.
I was absolutely astounded when suddenly KNEW, without any doubt, that God is real. I know it is a cliche, but it really is as if I had been blind, but now I could see.
Before I did anything about anything, I slept on things. Perhaps the Xians had got to me.
In the morning, I was curious to discover that I still KNEW.
Since that day, nearly 20 years ago, I have never stopped being able to SEE that God is still real. Sometimes, he seems very very dim, and I doubt that he was ever there at all. At other times he is vividly real.
I must make it clear that, at this point, I was FAR from being persuaded by any of the claims of Xianity, other than the claim that God is real. My conversion to Xianity itself to a lot longer.
I did not “experience” or “encounter” the Christian god. When I pressed my colleagues about those things which we do not speak, not one person at vespers had actually had an experience that could not be explained by scientific means.
I am constantly surprised by how many people put faith in a God that they have not experienced. It is not my place to question validity another person’s faith, but I simply cannot understand people’s accepting Xianity without having encountered God for themselves.
Amongst my Xian friends, such experiences seem quite the norm. Perhaps, as a group, we are the exception.
If you are not a Christian and you experience something divine, the experience is labeled something from the devil.
For what it is worth, I try to avoid any such labeling. I am nobody’s judge.
And even if you do actually “experience” something within Christianity, you are classified as a charismatic, or sometimes, more archaically, as a mystic and brushed aside as odd.
Or insane. Something I cannot absolutely rule out in my own case. But if I am stark-raving, then I am pretty high-functioning. I am intelligent, I hold down a job, have a family, a modest house, a car…
All in all, I don’t think the labels really help. If you must label me, then “odd” (or “weird”) sums me up rather well. But, I was both of those things before I “saw the light”.
Yet the majority of Christians do not have such mystical encounters, do they? But they still believe.
I find this very strange, too.