How I Came to Embrace a Truly Nut-Bag Religion

Some random nobody from nowhere shows up on the Judean countryside, rounds up a group of losers that nobody in their right mind would ever listen to, and turns everything upside down, for generations to come.

He claimed to be the “messiah” that the Old Testament prattles on about. That’s crazy.

He claimed to be God. His followers would later write, “yep, it’s true, He was God.” That’s crazy.

His followers also claimed that this nobody would die and remove the “sins of the world.” All of them – past, present, future, yours mine, etc. Crazy.

Top it off with the whole resurrection thing and Christianity gets really close to the top of the world’s craziest religions list.

Maybe that’s why so many Christian people are crazy.

When I first drank the christian Kool Aide, I was going crazy. My Baptist girlfriend had just dumped me at a local breakfast establishment, my dreams of becoming a military pilot had been dashed to bits, and I was deep in the throes of PTSD from something horrible that had happened years prior.It was the first time in my life that I didn’t finish my bacon.

A few hours after the breakfast-buffet-breakup, I was driving down a deserted Sunday afternoon freeway in downtown Dallas in my beat up Jeep CJ-7 with no iota of a clue as to where things were headed.

It was the first time in my life that I had ever felt hopeless.

I wanted out.

But there was one option I hadn’t considered, one last life-direction door that I had never tried. Baptist girlfriend had been dragging me to church every time the doors were open. I’m sure it was harder on her than it was for me – I’d make comments like, “Hey, that’s a bookstore. In church? Wouldn’t Jesus come and knock it down?” Baptist church was a difficult place for Catholic boy.

I had heard enough of God at this church to assent to the idea that maybe I had no idea who or what He was. So I prayed – I told Him he could have whatever He wanted, I would believe whatever He wanted me to believe and give up whatever He wanted me to give up.

At this point, what did I have to lose?

I immediately went from near-suicidal to tears of joy – everything seemed new and beautiful. I wish I could find some crafty way of saying that, it sounds so cheezy, but I’ll never forget that day.  It was like a resurrection – the Jeep became a cathedral and I began a journey that keeps changing my life for the better, even when I don’t want it to.

Especially when I don’t want it to.

Shortly after, at the encouragement of a friend, I started reading the Bible. But I immediately rejected it. It’s a crazy book. Bat-shit crazy, some would say.

I ultimately came to the conclusion that, if there is a God, by definition, there would be things about Him that would seem crazy, even unjust. I’m like a kid in a sandbox trying to make sense of my parent’s world. I don’t have the ken to understand God’s world.

I don’t have the guts, either.

So I turned up the knob on my tolerance for crazy, risky as that is.

I embraced the Bible, went to seminary to learn the art of letting it speak for itself, became a lifetime member of the local church, and, crazy as it sounds, feel sometimes like God is standing next to me. No matter what happens, I believe that I’ll be OK.

I’ve felt that way too many times to stop believing, or get bent out of shape when someone tells me how crazy my religion is.

On Easter mornings, I don’t like going to church. I’d rather sit with the people closest to me, watch the sunrise, and remember what my life was like on the day I experienced a resurrection of my own.

I want to think about all the things that have gone well.

Then attribute them to God.

I know, maybe He had little to do with it, maybe He had nothing to do with it, maybe He doesn’t exist.

But as I look back on all the different chapters of my life – the harrowing stories, dark episodes, redemption, blessing – I’d rather err on the side of “God made it happen,” than err on the side of “God had nothing to do with it.”

It gives me peace, and a ton of hope.

Jesus’ resurrection from the grave is not about Him saying “See? Told ya!.” It’s about hope. If somebody can pull a stunt like that, especially following the stunt that precipitated the need for a resurrection in the first place, you can trust Him.

You can put your life in His hands, crazy as that will feel, embrace His way of doing things, which will feel even crazier, and begin a journey that will look and feel much different than the one you’ve been on so far.

He doesn’t want to turn you into a rabid, benign, insensitive, finger-pointing, log-in-the-eye religious person, He wants to turn you into you – the person you were meant to be, the one that’s hiding under all the things that keep you from accepting and expressing yourself – finally seeing yourself the way God does.

It’ll hurt – there’s no candy-coating the pain that comes from living life on Jesus’ terms. The things that keep us from us are deeply rooted – they’ve been there for a long time and don’t come out without some tears.

And there’s a lot pride-swallowing, forgiving-non-deservers, and general personal sacrificing that you’ll be led into.

But if you’re into watching people change, especially you, the pain’s worth the price of a good resurrection.

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