In the space between yes and no, there’s a lifetime. It’s the difference between the path you walk and the one you leave behind; it’s the gap between who you thought you could be and who you really are; its the legroom for the lies you’ll tell yourself in the future. Jodi Picoult

In any journey, you have to start somewhere. Believing in God also has a beginning. Whatever you want to call it—giving your life to God, being born-again, finding Jesus—the Christian journey starts off by believing. A believer is someone…well…who believes. How does a dictionary describe belief? It defines the word as simply the mental act, condition or habit of placing trust or confidence in a person or thing. Sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it? I like to think of it as a change of mind. I once thought this; now I see it this way. This is what believing is—it’s a little more than changing your mind.

As an example, a case in point of this occurred in our home many years ago when we introduced our two sons to Thai food. It is by far the food that Julie and I enjoy the most. When we lived in Chicago, we would have it delivered every Friday night—an order of Pad Thai and Pad See Ew. Up to that point, the most risqué thing our boys had eaten was something called the Ultradog—a unique and messy hot dog from a place here in Grand Rapids called Yesterdog. It’s coated with onions, chili, cucumber shavings, and ketchup and mustard (yeah, I know it sounds gross, but you’ve got to try one). So one Saturday evening, we decided to introduce some Thai dishes to our sons. Micah, at the time was probably five, and immediately and emphatically expressed his disapproval. “Yuck, no way! Gross!” After finally getting him to the restaurant (yanking and pulling and bribing) and then finally making him take a bite, he bellowed, “Hmmm…This Thai food doesn’t taste half bad!” His mind and taste buds had been transformed. He changed his mind about how good Thai food actually was. Put simply, he began to believe in the goodness of Thai food.

Believing in God on one level is similar and is a pretty simple process if you think about it. Whether you are a thirteen year old at a Bible camp or the chief of some long-lost tribe in Kenya who’s never even seen a book, let alone a Bible, the process is no different:

  • You understand that God exists.
  • Your life is confronted about who you are through the story of the cross.
  • You acknowledge who you are as a sinner and who God is as a Redeemer.
  • You begin to believe in God and begin to believe that He can take away your sins.

God made it easy and straight forward in starting a relationship with him. For some of us, it happened when mom came in our room when we were six and prayed for us at our bedtime and then asked us if we wanted “Jesus to come into our heart.” For some others, it happened in high school or college, an arduous intellectual process in which we needed all the facts lined up, and all the apologetics made straight in our mind, and we then made a mental transformation in our belief system. And then, for some of us, we were deep in our own broken world, had made a total mess of our lives, maybe we were going from bed to bed or from drink to drink, and saw only one way out and that was the way of Jesus. Believers come in all different shapes and sizes; perhaps they have been Christians for forty days or as long as forty years.

There are many ways in which God reaches out to each of us. He is often imaginative in his approach. Jesus is so in love with us that he will do whatever it takes to be near us, close to us, in relationship with us. There are many ways in which he captivates us and I have heard countless stories and the many different ways in which people come to faith.

  1. A camp counselor tells you about this captivating Person and you want to know him.
  2. A guy hands you a tract on the subway.
  3. It’s late at night, you can’t sleep because of a head cold, and you’re flipping through the channels and you come upon some television preacher.
  4. You are all alone in another town on a business trip for three days and on the second day you open up the bed stand table and begin flipping through the book that lies there.
  5. A friend opens up their life to you about Someone who has made a dramatic difference in their life.

As I once heard Joseph Stowell comment, “God is like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police…He always get his man (or woman).” And in doing so, God comes up with some of the most normal and some of the most odd ways in bridging that gap—from not believing at all in him, to at least believing just a little bit.

Stay tuned: next week I will share a unique story in how God reached out to someone…

In: Friend to Jesus, Spiritual Formation
Tags: , , , ,