Atheist ‘hit’ by God - in a good way

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Michael Ford was satisfied with the fact that he was an atheist and that the world had come about by the means of evolution until an encounter encouraged him to read the Bible.

Michael was raised in a house where he was taught "God exists and if you are good, then you will probably get something at the end of it".

But at around the age of fourteen, he sat on his bed, pulled the covers up over his head and said to himself, "God does not exist."

"I was not immediately struck down by a lightning bolt. So, from then on, I thought God was non-existent and it was very freeing," Michael recalls.

"Everything suddenly became open to me and I started looking for anything and everything that [pointed] to the premise that God did not exist."

Even though he had "no drive to read the Bible or to attend church" Michael still had doubts about his decision. He got into philosophy and read up on many great scientists. He was "searching and scrambling for truth" but "there was no real value to any of it."

Michael became so depressed at this point, that he began self-harming. He laboured over the question: "What is the reason for everything?"

"Regardless of my lack of faith, there was still something valuable about faith," he says. "There was still that thorn that said that there was something amiss ... I was still searching for the truth."

One day, an evangelical outreach was held by some people from another town at Michael's university campus. He sat with two of his friends mocking a card the Christians had given out that had the words, "I'll be Honest" on it.

As they were laughing, a girl came up, sat in on the conversation and asked what they had been talking about. Then, she began telling Michael and the others about Jesus.

After an hour, Michael's friends left and tried to pull him away with them but he wanted to keep talking to the girl.

"There was something different about this person, something real, something that really struck me about her," he remembers. "I could not put my finger on it."

They kept talking for another two hours and "it became very clear that what she believed, she believed much more than anything that I believed. She had to have some kind of truth that I was just not privy to at all.

"What really struck me," Michael continues, "was that every single response that she gave me was essentially the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Good News of His coming and His dying and the reality of sin. Her argument was, essentially, that all that matters is Jesus Christ and Him crucified."

By the time they parted ways, Michael had "a real drive to read the Bible". But he was still "unwilling to accept that God could exist".

As he continued reading through the Scriptures and hearing the convicting stories of what Jesus had done for others, Michael learned that all he had to do was "just believe". He did not need to work himself up to be perfect because he had already sinned, he had already fallen short.

"It all started to make sense," he says. "I was sitting in my basement and I decided, 'Okay, I will pray'. And I just started talking to the Lord. I did not know who I was talking to at first. The first few times, it did not really seem like anything was going on ... but I prayed over and over again.

"Eventually, it started to feel like something else was happening. I was no longer talking to my ceiling; I was being heard. Someone was listening, Someone was understanding."

Michael stocked shelves at night for a job and one morning, as he was driving home, he stopped at a stop sign and watched the sunrise. As he was marvelling at its beauty, he thought of Christ.

"Suddenly, I could not have told you at the time, but John 3:16 became real and it became about me," he recalls. '"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son' became 'For God so loved Michael that He gave His only begotten Son, that if I were to believe on Him, I would not perish but have eternal life'. It just hit me as real; not just as an idea, but as a reality.

"I started to realise my sin. If Christ is real, if Christ died for me, how wretched am I, what have I done to deserve this? I just received a huge conviction. What could I have possibly been doing with my entire life that I could just insult the Creator of the universe? The reality of Christ, the reality of my sin, the brevity of life ... it all hit me at once, like a brick in the head.

"I just broke down. I was laughing and weeping at the same time. When I got home, I called out to Jesus, thanking Him for [saving me]. I was so overjoyed."

"As an atheist on campus, I had been yelling at all these believers and calling them fools when actually [I was the fool].

"When the scales fell off of my eyes, so much of God poured in. All these philosophies of men, all of these things that I had been dedicating myself to - computer games, tabletop games, silly things - were just wasting my time until, basically, I was dead, because there had been no point to life. It all hit me: just who the Lord is and what He has done through His perfect, completed work on Calvary. [I realised] just how much God has worked from the beginning of time to bring us back to Himself."

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