WHY I BELIEVE
David C. Hughes
“Jesus came to take away our sins, not our minds.” –Seen on a church marquee.
Recently I spent an evening with my wife’s family. As the queue formed for the roast beef, corn on the cob, and Spring Mix, I sat at the dining room table and caught up with my nephew, a young and talented journalist. After a few minutes lamenting the state of print media, he queried about my writing and its progress. “So you’re writing Christian lit?” he asked.
“Christian non-fiction,” I corrected. “Among other things.”
“Have you read The Case for Christ?”
“Yes! Written by the atheist who set out to disprove Christianity and ended up becoming a Christian.” I’d read this book by Lee Strobel a few years ago, and for me it was a key that helped unlock my heart and finally orient my faith in Jesus Christ as the true Son of God and Savior. Months after reading The Case for Christ, I sent it to my dad who was struggling with the Second Person of the Trinity as well. Strobel’s book also helped him regain his footing in the truth.
“Have you read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins?” my nephew asked. I admitted I’d never even heard of it. As a reporter and philosopher, my nephew looks at the world through a critical thinker’s lenses, gathering and assimilating information, regarding all sides of an issue, and drawing a conclusion. Or at least leaving the argument open for further discussion. “I’m an agnostic leaning toward atheism,” he told me. We talked about the faith issue for several more minutes, until my mother-in-law called me away from the table to run an errand.
I respect my nephew’s position, but I have to admit his defense of his atheistic leanings backed me up against the wall of faith that evening. I didn’t know how to respond to it. After all, God did create us in His image, in essence as creative, thinking beings, but He never intended for us to think Him into non-existence. So I resorted to appeasement instead of countering his points with my own experience, knowledge, and beliefs. Thank God my mother-in-law called me away when she did. The belief-versus-unbelief issue didn’t come up again for the rest of the night as wine and several rounds of Wahoo captured our attention and refocused it on just hanging out and being family. But the discussion had left me edgy and unsettled.
I was baptized into the Catholic Church when I was one month old and confirmed at age 13. In my mid-forties I received a full-immersion baptism at a non-denominational Christian church, and, to make sure I wore the full suit of spiritual armor, I was baptized in the Holy Spirit at age 49. I believe without a doubt God exists, that Jesus of Nazareth, as shown in the historical, traditional, and Scriptural record, is the Son of God, and that through His death my sins–past, present, and future–have been forgiven. I believe I’ve been redeemed from the power and punishment of sin, and that I will live eternally in heaven after my earthly mission has been fulfilled. I also believe without a doubt that, as Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16, “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Because of my upbringing and education in the sciences, I don’t always interpret what is written in the literal sense, but I do believe the Bible is God’s word and contains God’s truth. As such, I embrace it as God’s instruction and direction, and try to live out my faith per His word every day.
Because of my bent toward introversion, I’m most comfortable with the philosophy “Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words,” an imperative generally attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi. I wear my faith on my sleeve, and am generally willing to share it with anyone. But, as I discovered during the conversation with my nephew, I’m WAY more comfortable sharing my testimony with folks who are either acknowledged Christians, or people I perceive would be open to receiving the truth as professed through my story rather than through philosophical argument.
I’m no Paul. I’m not trained in rhetoric or formal debate. I don’t even have a degree in English. I’m a humble country boy raised in a family of storytellers with a degree in electrical engineering. However, my interaction and inaction around the dinner table that night re-opened my eyes and my heart to God’s truth: Per 2 Timothy 1:7-8 “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord . . . .” And as Jesus instructed the disciples: “’When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.’” (Luke 12:11-12). Although I knew the Spirit would guide my words, I kept my mouth shut nonetheless. What holds me back from professing the truth verbally, in real-time, is fear. Fear of being thought of as a right-wing Christian crackpot, fear of losing friendships and family, fear of offending people, fear of not being able to defend my faith against well-crafted and well-rehearsed counter-arguments. “Fear of man will prove to be a snare. . . .” King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 29:25, and after all these years, his wisdom still proves powerfully, and painfully, accurate.
So why do I believe? What drives my faith from the very core and swamps out any arguments against the knowledge of God? Simple: I’ve seen too much. Jesus said in John 10:37-38 “Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” I’ve seen the works. I’ve witnessed miracles. I’ve heard so many first-hand accounts of other miracles that there’s no way in my mind to discount the very real presence of God.
I know a man whose frontal lobe was removed to reduce brain swelling after a near-fatal motorcycle accident. As church, family, and friends came together to pray for him, his frontal lobe eventually regenerated. And I witnessed him walk again. My church life group prayed over me one evening, laying hands on a very swollen throat. As the believers prayed, the lump withered beneath their fingers. My wife watched it shrink. When my Aunt was diagnosed with a lump in her breast, she asked for prayer. We prayed. When it came time to measure the growth again prior to the operation to remove it, the tumor had shrunk to half its original size.
I’ve heard God’s voice instructing and directing me. I’ve perceived God’s Spirit conveying knowledge I couldn’t possibly possess, knowledge that brought about a permanent change of heart, culminating in a healing and an eventual awakening which has brought me to where I am today. I’ve watched men transform before my eyes from shame-filled abusers, addicts, liars, and cheats to Spirit-filled men of God on fire for the Kingdom. I know men with lifelong addictions to powerful drugs quit using–permanently–after asking Jesus to take away their cravings and restore their lives. I’ve seen the amazing power of redemption played out when men cast off pride and dependence on the world’s lies and accept the Truth and the freedom it ignites in those who receive it. I’ve witnessed evil, very real and very insidious, as it entered my household and manifested itself in the present realm, and I’ve witnessed how prayer and anointing drove it away.
So why do I believe? How can I so confidently go against the grain of the world’s promises and place my heart, soul, and spirit into the care of a God so many people haven’t opened their eyes to yet? Why do I dare trust my life with a Creator so many people don’t even believe in? Because I see Him. Because I’ve seen too many “coincidences,” experienced too many events that “just so happened,” and heard too many testimonies of God’s very real interaction in people’s lives to discount His existence. God is real. God exists. And He invites each and every one of His creations to experience Him not only as sovereign God, but as Abba. Daddy. With a God like that, what other proof do we need?
Copyright © 2013 David C. Hughes