Growing up, I sorta' believed in God. But I figured if He actually was real, He wasn't involved in this world. Because if He was, surely He would have made Himself known. I needed proof, not just stories.
I saw others claim to believe in Jesus. As a whole, I saw no difference in their lives. Heck, I was living a more moral life than most of them.
But my brother was another story. He believed, and yet he seemed very different, changed. He made different choices; he exhibited more loved toward me.
However, I just thought, "That's good -- for him. I'm glad he changed. He needed to. But I'm getting along OK." If a story helped him do better, so be it. But I needed more than a belief in a fairy tale.
The summer after my freshman year of college, I lived at home -- going to school, working, working out for football, and spending time with the youth group at a church. I wasn't seeking Jesus; I was just looking for something to do.
I'll never forget Bradley K., who had just graduate high school. We weren't close friends, but since we lived in a small town, we knew each other well enough.
And I'll never forget the day he stepped out in faith to engage me where I was. He asked, "What do you think about Jesus?"
What a great question. I said that I wasn't sure He was really, and if He even existed, I don't believe in what the Bible claimed about Him.
This led to a summer-long dialogue between Bradley and I. We talked and read books together. I don't remember everything we said, but I remember that I felt comfortable asking questions and expressing doubts.
After one final late-night talk, I got up early to work out. After my 5 AM workout, I was in the shower thinking about all our conversations and all the books I read.
I didn't want to believe in Jesus. My life was going fine (or so I thought -- I couldn't imagine the life and hope I was missing). I wasn't even 100% sure that He was real, and that the Bible spoke truth.
But as a scientist, I don't go by 100% certainty. I go where the bulk of the evidence points. And I learned that the bulk of the evidence pointed to Jesus being God, living as a man, dying on a cross, and rising from the dead.
So, at 6 AM (after my 1-hour workout) on July 31, 1995, I prayed something like, "God, if You are real, I ask You to come into my life and change me. I want to believe in and follow You."
It was a big "if," and there were no fireworks. But this small prayer began a new journey of following Jesus.
And it all started with one simple, loving, and humble question from a friend:
"What do you think about Jesus?"
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**image courtesy of ba1969 via rgbstock.com