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Archive for March, 2010

Amazing Grace

I was finishing up a reply on a blog in which I mentioned my lifelong logical explanations for why people believed in God when there was no reason to believe He existed, ending with my own conversion.  For whatever reason, “Amazing Grace” came to mind, as it has several times recently, and again I wondered if Jesus was mentioned in the song, or if it was just about God (all I had a clear memory of was the first stanza).  I looked it up, and discovered, not just the lyrics, but (on Wikipedia):

“”Amazing Grace” is a Christian hymn written by English poet and clergyman John Newton (1725–1807)…  Newton wrote the words from personal experience. He grew up without any particular religious conviction…  One night a terrible storm battered his vessel so severely that he became frightened enough to call out to God for mercy, a moment that marked the beginning of his spiritual conversion.”

My storm was emotional rather than meteorological, but it’s the same concept.  I read the lyrics, and they choked me up so much that I decided it was post-worthy:

Amazing Grace

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
We have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

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This is something that happened at the end of last week;  I didn’t post about it then because I lean towards NOT assuming that everything is a message from God, which granted conflicts with my repeated requests to Him to send me more insights into His will and nature, and I just wasn’t able to accept that He’d tell me something this big.  I tried to dismiss it, but it’s started coming into my mind over and over, which is more likely to be just a neurotic need to be sure I don’t dismiss an “official message” than God nudging me to accept it, although I’m not feeling any explicit concern about it…  in either case I figure it’s best to just post it and be done with it.

Last Thursday, I revealed to a religious friend that God has entered my life.  She was thrilled for me, but unfortunately felt it necessary to try and tell me what I “had to” start doing and believing as a result.  I had to be very blunt and vehement with her;  I believe what God tells and shows me and nothing more, and I’ll do whatever he asks of me and nothing more… He’s perfectly willing to tell me to start a blog or call a friend, so it seems reasonable to me that if He wanted me to start worshipping Jesus, reading the Bible or going to church He’d say so.  She also wanted to lecture me on religion, with the best of intentions certainly, but again I had to be very firm and make clear that I’m NOT buying into her specific belief system, or anyone else’s, unless God instructs me to do so.

The next day, the idea of what belief system I should be adopting was still running through my mind;  I WANT to find a “true religion” if one exists, because this would give me a great deal of information and also an appropriate structure for dealing with the Almighty, but at this point I have no way of even guessing who’s got The Truth.  As I often do when I’m processing an idea, I imagined myself to be talking to someone about it;  I had the vague mental vision of being confronted by a group of religious types and giving my speech about why I wasn’t going to fall in line with their beliefs:

“I’m not going to blindly pick a religion just because I now know that God exists.  Why should I accept YOUR beliefs without verification from God that they’re the right ones? How do I know if your religion portrays The Truth?  How do I know if ANY of the religions portray The Truth”

{they don’t}

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There it was, 2 quiet words dropped into my train of thought, just as has happened before.  It stopped me in my tracks…  but I immediately started doubting that this could be the real thing, because it’s not possible that God would give me such a gargantuan insight like that…  is it?

I’ve accepted every other time this has happened that it WAS God communicating with me, but He hadn’t previously inserted an answer like that into a speculation…  am I being ridiculous if I believe it was God or ridiculous if I don’t?

{don’t}

That came into my head after I wrote the previous line.  My first thought was that that was my verification, followed by “but what if He means “don’t believe it”?”…  but wouldn’t He be more likely to say something more clearly indicating that I’d wrongly assumed it was Him than telling me not to BELIEVE it was Him?  Or was the word just… an echo?  I’m gonna be spinning around and around trying to sort this out…

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God healed me again

Today, I had a sudden massive surge from one of my health issues.  It was scary, because this normally means hours of suffering even if I max out the meds.  This time, I asked God to please take it from me… and He did.  It faded rapidly away and never came back.

It also belatedly occurred to me today that when I had the urge to look for some jewelry items that I’d been trying to find for many years a few weeks ago, and found *2* items, one from a site I’d never even looked at before, this was probably God at work as well.

He gives me so much. I’m not used to being given to.  I feel like I should be doing something of value in return.  I wish I knew what.

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He had already altered how my flawed brain works sufficiently to significantly improve my quality of life, and I mean a radical change that occurred instantly when I asked for His help;  that’s not the sort of thing even the most religious types claim to experience for the most part, which is why I see myself as “Bizarrely Blessed.”

The more recent improvement is in my equally flawed physical functioning;  I asked Him for help with one of the areas I’m lacking in, and a few weeks later I was given a gift, from a total stranger under circumstances too odd to be believable if you don’t know me well enough to trust my honesty, and this gift has already allowed me to make solid progress with more to come.

WHY ME?  I’d give much to know why I’m the recipient of so many kinds of Divine assistance;  I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth, but it’s almost unnerving to be the focus of God’s attention with no visible reason… is it a test?  Tests can be failed.  I entreat Him to not let me fail Him;  I hope that that prayer is one of the ones He answers.

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You see all sorts of lines from the Bible as you surf religious blogs; I typically ignore them, because I’m not a Christian and view the Bible only as a source of general God-related info (on the assumption that those most hard-core worshippers had a reasonable chance of gleaning some of the facts).  I saw one today that stopped me in my tracks, though, because it dovetails with the sort of improvement I hope He’ll make in me.  Here it is:

Psalm 51:10

Create in me a pure heart, O God,

and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

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Here are the events that took me from lifelong unbeliever to devotee of God:

11-10-09 (approx): Due to massive stress and some terrible events, I was crumbling emotionally, and my lifelong habit of coping and figuring things out by talking out loud somehow morphed into the idea that I was talking TO someone.

11-15-09: On the verge of emotional collapse, I did what my most religious friend has always done;  when I went to bed that night, I asked God to handle it for me.

11-16-09: I woke up with a massive and wildly atypical sense of peace, and several religious-themed “coincidences” right after I got up made it clear that God had in fact appeared… or else I was going nuts (I had that worry for the first month or so, which isn’t uncommon early in a conversion).

12-2-09: I was led by a very odd occurrence to one of the many archive pages of my old blog, which it turns out contained a very old post in which I described a dream in which I’d spoken to God, and speculated how it’d feel if I discovered there really was a God.  I was pretty sure that it was God and not a mental breakdown that I was experiencing at this point.

12-9-09: I was very stressed and anxious, and I asked God to make me calm.  He did, and I mean the level of those feelings dropped rapidly to zero and stayed there.  This was the day, I think, that I fully accepted that God was real and acting in my life;  this was beyond what could be explained by wishful thinking or coincidence.

Later: After I went to bed and thanked Him for His assistance, God spoke to me for the first time.  2 words appeared in my head, apropos of nothing I was thinking about, but clearly connected to my prior assertion to Him that I’d do whatever He wanted in return for the help He was giving me;  “religious blog.”  The meaning was clear.

There’s more, which I’ll add as time permits.

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Welcome

Hi.  I’m a former heathen who now has a personal relationship with God.

I always thought that people who said that God spoke to them or was active in their lives were at best the victims of wishful thinking and a big dose of self-delusion;  the joke’s on me, because now I’m the one with the astonishing stories of my interactions with the Almighty.

This blog will contain a running record of my relationship with God, and nothing else.  If that sounds interesting to you, I’ve got every possible way for you to keep track of when I post available in the sidebar;  I hope to see you again soon.

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