Until the age of 28, I was as staunch an atheist as you can imagine. I saw religion as the cause of the world’s biggest problems and faith as nothing more than wishful thinking. Then I began working with a woman who was a churchgoer and amazed me by being seemingly normal, apart from her commitment to her church and faith. We were waiting for a new building project to start and had lots of time to just chat all day. We spoke a lot about her beliefs and she challenged me to read some scripture and see if I felt the same afterwards. I took up the challenge and expected to feel strengthened in my unbelief. I read Matthew’s gospel – nothing impressed me. I read Mark’s gospel – same thing. I was reading Luke and equally unimpressed until I got to Luke 4:14-21, a passage that grabbed my attention.
It spoke of preaching good news to the poor, proclaiming freedom for prisoners, sight for the blind, release from oppression. What good news? Which poor? What freedom? Which prisoners? Which blind people? Which oppressed people?
I kept re-reading the passage and thinking about it and then, to my horror, I realised I had started praying to the God in whom I thought I didn’t believe!
..And it felt good and worthwhile.
I began to understand my own foolish determination to live in spiritual blindness which was imprisoning me. Once I let God in, an amazing journey of faith began which led to many forms of service in the church, preaching and later ministry.
Faith makes sense of this confusing world and sees hope where so little hopes seems present. God uses our faith to change us and situations. The church, when it gets things right, makes our communities better places to be. If only I hadn’t kept God away for so long.
All God needs is a chance – God is ready and waiting to embrace us and wak with us through all that life brings and forever.