I turned my back on God when I was fourteen. I never even thought about belief or faith unless I was sneering at someone who claimed to be a Christian. I thought that science and rationalism, humanism and philosophy were good enough. I thought this way for years and years. I wish I could take it all back now, but I can't.
After finishing college, I entered the Navy and began to see the world outside the protective cocoon of the United States. There was so much violence, so much poverty, so much hopelessness and sorrow. I began to meet people – Christians – for whom faith was such an important part of their lives. I started to think to myself, "how wonderful it would be to believe in something beyond myself, beyond this world. What strength people must have who believe in God." Of course...I was too smart and sophisticated and educated for such foolishness. I was longing for something I didn't have the words to ask for.
I was drinking heavily. I missed home. I had my heart horribly broken. My 17-year-old step-sister died. I visited Jerusalem, and the Sea of Galilee, but I didn't understand much of what the pilgrims I met were experiencing. I was jealous, although I wasn't sure of what. Something started to change in me, although I didn't know it then. The thing I remember the most about those days was how alone I felt, bobbing around the in the middle of the ocean on a warship. We were in the Persian Gulf, then in the Adriatic during the war in Yugoslavia. I remember the horrible massacres. We pulled bodies out of the Adriatic Sea. Rwanda happened. Rabin was assassinated while I was in Haifa. All those monks were murdered in Algeria. It seemed like death was all around me. I didn't know what to do. I was lost.
Then, one evening, while I stood watching the most beautiful sunset from the deck of my ship, I found myself pondering the big questions in my life. Where was I going? Why were things the way they were in the world, and in my life? What was I to do with myself? How could I have faith when I didn't believe in anything beyond my senses? I felt as though I had been through a fire, and all that was left were the ashes. I asked the God I didn't believe in to help me...and He answered. I won't say much more about it, but in the space of a few moments, my life was changed forever.
That was ten years ago. My journey toward faith has taken many twists and turns, but I have stayed on the path. I have found such wisdom and peace in the story and teachings of Jesus, and I know that God is with me, helping me, holding me in the palm of His hand, guiding me as I grow and change.
But the best thing is that I have a six month old daughter now, and I can't wait to teach her about the wonders and beauty of God. God changed my life. No one in the world was more surprised than me to find faith. He can change yours, too.