This blog has been up and running for about six months now. I have been extremely honored by how many people have freely chosen to read many of these articles. Yet I have no idea who many of you are. At the same time, you don’t know me either. So it seemed appropriate that I share a quick testimony. My hope is that you will do the same, and share with me how wonderful God is by relating how you came to faith in Christ.
As a child, my parents took me to church occasionally, but I never understood the gospel. As a college student, I developed into a flaming atheist. I argued with the campus preacher, and was so effective at it that he called me possessed and performed a mock exorcism on me one day right there at the campus student center. As time went on, I focused on my career in software and various hobbies. During this time, I encountered a number of Christians that didn’t match my expectations.
Several years had passed since college, and I was working on starting my own business in the software industry. My sister had been a follower of Jesus for about eight years, and I felt responsible as her older brother to correct her regarding her “errant” theological beliefs. I knew I didn’t want to attend church to do it, so I contacted my ex-next-door neighbor, a pastor at a local church. I asked him if I could launch some tough questions at him. He agreed and started a Bible study at a time I could conveniently attend. I started to pound away with questions, not knowing at that time that the anvil of Christianity had worn out many a hammer. [i]
One of the things that drew me in was watching people’s visceral reaction to Jesus. Why were people so incensed about Jesus if He were merely a historical figure, a good teacher, or even some kind of religious prophet? The verses that stuck in my mind were Matthew 10:34-36. To put it another way, if Jesus were unimportant, why did he say that He would be so divisive? This question stuck in my mind as I continued to investigate His claims. I call this my “hinge” verses; it was around this scripture that my mind turned.
This is a story that I am sure you have heard before. The more contradictions I thought I found, and the more paradoxes I brought to light, the more I started learning about who Jesus is, and why it was important. It was Monday, March 19, 2000, and I was reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. He suggested a thought experiment. Imagine that you are not perfect. I thought, “Hey, that’s easy!” Then, imagine that all God wants is for you to be sorry. Now, how could you truly be sorry, since you are not perfect? You can’t really be 100% sorry, but might hold a little back. So then my mind continued down the same path, that all that would be required is to be sorry for the small part of you that wasn’t sorry in the first place. But again, since you are not perfect, you cannot be perfectly sorry for the part of you that wasn’t perfectly sorry, and so on to infinity. As someone well equipped in mathematics, I fully understood the concept of asymptotic functions, and recognized I could never reach the limit. It’s like walking halfway toward a wall over and over again; you never actually reach the wall.
Then I read the next sentence, which explained that the only person who could truly be perfectly sorry would be someone who was perfect, and therefore would never need to be sorry in the first place. I set the book down in amazement and marveled at how simple this truth was, and asked myself how I could have missed it for so long. That was the moment of epiphany.
For you math geeks, the following picture represents what came into my head. It is the function y = arctan(x). It approaches π/2, but never gets there even if the independent variable goes to infinity.
But back to the main point, I have seen more prayers answered, and more strange things happen than anyone has a right to. I have endeavored to grow in knowledge and its corresponding application. In my short time as a follower of the triune God, I have been blessed beyond measure.
Of course this is only the intellectual piece of the story. It doesn’t give credit to the prayers of others, and most importantly how the Holy Spirit was moving to reveal God to me in profound ways. Yet those are details which must wait for another telling.
I am the only person I know who God saved by using asymptotic math. Please share a little about yourself in the comments below.