Our world regularly decries the God of the Bible as at least a myth, and at most a monster, begging the question, “Why would anyone choose the Bible?” This article takes the stories of those who chose to follow the God of the Bible despite the odds.
NATIVE AMERICANS CHOOSE JESUS CHRIST DESPITE PERSECUTION
My husband pastors a small rural church comprised of mostly Native American followers of Jesus. They choose to follow Jesus Christ despite generations of oral stories proclaiming the atrocities of being forced to convert to “Christianity”. This time no one forced them.
Some congregation members tell stories about a time prior to choosing to follow Jesus. They readily joined in with family members who mocked those who followed Jesus Christ. Years later, finding no hope themselves, they too cried out to Jesus and discovered why their relatives had been willing to endure persecution for their faith. They too now suffer willingly for their faith in Christ.
Why would people choose to leave their Native religion and face persecution to follow Jesus Christ?
A YOUNG MAN CONTEMPLATING SUICIDE EXPERIENCES INSTANT TRANSFORMATION
As a child, my husband’s parents would send him and his siblings to church but they didn’t attend. There he would hear about the love of Jesus that included the realities of hell. Once he got into high school, however, he stopped attending church regularly, rejecting all he’d been taught as a child.
At the age of nineteen, a severe breakup with his fiancé left him suicidal. He recalls that those Sunday School stories of hell kept him from driving into bridge abutments “moments before steal hit concrete”.
Unable to find relief, in desperation he finally cried out to God, “If you’re real, just give me a reason to live and I’ll do anything for you!” Instantly he felt an overwhelming peace. He soon found a Bible-believing church who loved and taught him the Word. He grew in his faith and eventually went into the ministry.
How could someone’s life be so dramatically changed in an instant?
POST TRAUMA, FILLED WITH QUESTIONS, HE CHOOSES GOD AGAIN
My husband and his first wife spent twenty-six years together in ministry. In their twentieth year of marriage, his wife’s health began to deteriorate, and after six years of illness she passed away one night while he was at work. He found her the next morning, his boys waking to him screaming her name over and over as he attempted to revive her with CPR.
Having seen people miraculously healed throughout their years of ministry, he strongly believed she too would be healed. So when she passed, he experienced intense doubt and questions to the point that he left the ministry. Although he struggled with feelings of abandonment by God, he now states that he also found solace in spending time with God through prayer and worship.
Two years after her death, and four years after the death of my first husband, Gary and I were married.
Years later Gary realized that as her health failed and his workload intensified, he spent far less time in God’s Word, the Bible, which contributed to his “crisis of faith”. He now believes that had he spent more time with God’s Word back then, his crisis of faith would not have been as severe. Not because God was angered, but because he now realizes that his time with the Lord may have strengthened him during those extremely difficult year after her death.
A year ago, God opened a door for us to return to ministry. Gary now readily proclaims that although he still has questions, serving God fulfills him as much as it did before his family’s trauma.
Why would someone who’s endured such trauma choose to serve God after all they’ve been through?
WHY I DAILY CHOOSE TO FOLLOW JESUS
My life experiences have included:
- Feeling desperately alone as a teenager
- Losing my rock and comfort of twenty-five years of marriage to cancer at forty-eight years of age
- Experiencing intense loneliness while raising a child with autism and mood disorder
I experienced such feelings of loss and depression in my pre-teen years, that had I not already known Jesus, I wouldn’t have made it. I have often said that without Jesus I would have either committed suicide, ended up on drugs, or flung myself at any man that came along. Throughout the loneliness that wracked the years I raised our son with autism, and then through the pain of losing my husband, I also was able to remain steady through the peace and presence of God. Had Jesus not chosen me as a child to walk with him, and had I not chosen throughout life to continue to walk with him despite the intense pain, I would have a very different life now. I seldom deal with depression and anxiety. I feel fulfilled. I continue to grow in my relationship with the God who loves and cares for me.
God longs for you to experience the transformed life through Jesus Christ that we have found. A life worth living despite the trials and struggles. I would even say that if this interests you at all, he’s calling you to cry out to him for help.
Maybe you’ve cried out to God before, to no avail. Would you now be willing to yield as my husband once did when he cried, “God I’ll do anything if you’ll give me a reason to live”? Why not try? If you’re willing to honestly yield as Gary once did proclaiming, “if you’re real, give me a reason to live and I’ll do anything you ask” God will listen and respond. Jesus said so right here:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Wish to read more about this Jesus and my story with him? Here are a couple more articles to consider:
Facing Loneliness (This is a longer than normal post)
I have also written at length about my experiences raising our son in a chapter of “Life Repurposed” by Michelle Rayburn. My story is found on page 123 “God in My Loneliness”.
You may find comfort from this article about Jesus’ interactions with two blind men who desperately wanted their sight.