Ever since I became a Christian people have asked me two questions about my conversion. The first question has been along the lines of, “What was it that convinced you to give up your search for hard proof and accept on faith Christ’s saving Grace and God’s Word?”; and the second has been, “How did it feel when you discovered the Truth?”
My answer to the first question has always been easy for me to explain. Simply put, it was God bringing to fruition my deepest and longest held desires within hours after my witnessing the positive power of prayer and, because of what I had seen and heard, deciding to take a leap of faith by getting down on my knees and praying to Him for help in making those dreams come true.
But, I’ve always had difficulty answering the second question. With respect to Him answering those particular prayers, I certainly felt immense relief and tremendous joy. But, how did I feel about the fact that He answered my prayers at all? That’s a totally different feeling and the one I’ve struggled with adequately describing.
Even as late as this last Sunday, when I related my story in a witness I gave at a men’s Christ Renews His Parish retreat at our church, I still couldn’t do it justice. I know I was amazed, but amazement is a condition of the mind, and there was more to it than that. It felt more like an affair of the heart than of the mind. It was like an instantaneous falling in love and then feeling that same love being reciprocated.
Then, on Monday, in a God-moment, I found the best answer I can expect to find.
I was flying from Chicago to Houston and I couldn’t sleep because the lady behind me, bless her heart, could not keep her two year old son from screaming the entire three hours of the flight. So, I pulled out my bible and opened it to a random page. That page happened to be the start of chapter 24 of the Gospel of Luke. Starting at verse 13, Luke recalls Christ’s Appearance to the two Disciples on the road to Emmaus. After Jesus said the blessing and broke bread with the Disciples, and their eyes were suddenly opened and they realized it was Jesus with whom they had been walking and talking, He disappeared from them.
“Then, they said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?’” – Luke 24:32 NAB
That is precisely what happened that weekend in April 2012. Through the men of that Christ Renews giving team, Jesus, by the Light of the Holy Spirit, opened the scriptures to me and set my heart aflame. That’s how it felt when I discovered the Truth – my heart was on fire. And, it still is.
After saying a little prayer of Thanksgiving for this revelation, I pondered why this happened to me. To this I came up with my own answer: my heart was open to the truth that weekend two and a half years ago. I was tired of fighting it, tired of trying to do everything on my own and getting nowhere. By deciding to go on that retreat I cracked the door open enough to let God into my life.
But, more specifically, I wondered why it doesn’t happen to more people. In thinking about my own life up to that point, I saw where there are varying degrees of unbelievers. There are those who are just outside the margin, like I was most of my life. Then there are the unbelievers who fight hard to not believe. Their doors are not just shut, they have deadbolts on them. The first might be perpetuated by a certain laziness or simple self-reliance, but I think the latter is due to fear. Fear of being wrong. Either way, I know now that folks on both those shores are missing the boat. And, in doing so, they are missing out on that wonderful feeling of burning love within their hearts.
It’s ironic, though, that all it takes to get that feeling is to give in to the One you have fought so hard against, and to open your heart a crack, just enough to let the Light shine in.
That’s our challenge as Christians in trying to bring others to Christ. How do we convince them to not be afraid, to see that there is goodness in the Alternative, and that life is so much easier and sweeter when the locks have been removed and their hearts are freely open?
“Lord Jesus, I am so grateful for Your presence in my life. Thank You for Your patience, for waiting for me to open my heart so that You could set it afire. Lord, I pray that, as Your disciple and through Your good Graces, I am able to convince those who are afraid, and those who are sitting on the fence, to open their hearts to You. Amen.”
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