I got to know God through learning about the fact that Genesis was true and evolution wrong. Events have happened in my life, which have caused me to know God better, and these events have often centered on knowing God as Creator. A few anecdotes spring to mind, one of which is related below.
As I have traveled around speaking, I have discovered that many other people have similar testimonies. Do you have a testimony about coming to know God better, through understanding about His creation? If so, then I would like to hear about it. Send me a message through the contact page of this blog site, and I will see if I can fit it into the book, giving you acknowledgment for it.
To get you thinking, here is one of my anecdotes.
I was 15 years old. My parents were not getting on with the vicar of the Anglican Church that we attended. Well, let’s be honest here, my mother was not getting on with the vicar—I can’t really imagine my father falling out with anyone. My mother’s idea, however, was for us to attend another Anglican Church that was actually a bit closer to home, and in the same town where we lived; Stalybridge. This was, in fact, the church in which my mother had grown up as a little girl. So, we turned up at Holy Trinity Church, Stalybridge on the Sunday before Christmas Eve, on Sunday December 19th 1976.
Have you ever visited a traditional Church of England? Vicars would speak in a special plummy voice. They would refer to passages in the Bible, but no one knew if they really believed them or not. And the service would proceed by carefully written pattern, as dictated by the Service Book, which, in 1976, would probably have been the Alternative Service Series 3.
Holy Trinity was different. The vicar was the Reverend Brian Whittaker. He had been the first married incumbent with a young family at the church for several decades. Several things about the man impressed themselves upon me very rapidly. He introduced himself as Brian, whereas most vicars at that time would have been Mr. Whittaker (unless, of course, they were not called Whittaker, but you know what I mean!) He used an up-to-date version of the Bible—the Good News Bible (my opinions on this particular translation have developed over the years, but I still cannot deny that the use of the GNB at that time seemed like a positive plus to this teenager). And he did not speak in a plummy voice. He spoke in a normal voice, which, paradoxically, struck me as unusual.
The biggest surprise of all was his attitude to the Bible. Other ministers that I heard simply referred to Bible passages. He founded his teaching on them. Others used Bible verses to back up what they said. He drew his teaching from the Bible. And it was pretty obvious to me that he believed the Bible to be true.
We usually only went to the morning service, even though most Anglican Churches had two. But the evening service that day was to be a Carol Service by candle light. It was beautiful. I have no idea what the Health and Safety fascists of today would make of it, with a broom handle supporting a tea-light affixed to every pew, but the effect was magnificent. And Brian preached about a Jesus that he knew personally.
The following Friday was Christmas Eve and there was to be another candle light service. This time, it was to be a Midnight Communion Service. Our previous church had not had such a service, so the idea was a novelty. My parents asked if we would like to go, and we (my two sisters and I) said yes.
Brian’s sermon was quite hard-hitting, as he spoke about the three-times-a-year Christians—that is, those who came only for the big three celebrations of Christmas, Easter and Whitsun, though I doubt if many people today would even be aware when Whitsunday was, let alone make a special effort to go to church that day. But back to Brian’s sermon; he spoke about how being a Christian was not a matter of nationality, tradition or family, but happened by repenting of sin and trusting in Jesus.
Jesus was real! And the first Christmas Day was a historical event of significance for me personally. Jesus was a real person, who I could get to know. When I stepped out of the church, to walk across the parking lot back to the family car, I looked up and saw a bright star. Obviously, it was not the Star of Bethlehem! I never thought it was! Having consulted a recent version of the open source astronomical software Stellarium, I think it must have been Vega or Capella. But it was like a Star of Bethlehem in my heart. I knew that I would never forget the appearance of that very ordinary star at one o’clock that Christmas morning, when the things that I believed in my head were all confirmed as real and powerful. An aspect of God’s creation powerfully spoke to me, and God was to use such circumstances again and again in my life.
You might be thinking that these thoughts as I looked at this star would make me want to become a Christian. But I thought I already was a Christian. My parents were Christians, so I thought. We went to church every week. My family prayed quite a lot. We especially prayed a lot after my older sister was badly injured, when a car, driven by a soldier home from Northern Ireland on leave, hit her as she crossed the road and drove over her body. Surely, it was God who preserved her and brought her back to consciousness, albeit in a terribly injured state.
No, my thoughts that night did not convince me to become a Christian. They convinced me that, contrary to everything I had previously been led to believe, I was not a Christian. The God who created these things—these stars—was real and had a case against me.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:20-21)
How could a star work as a Gospel tract? It convinced me that everything that I had heard Brian preach was true. I knew that God existed, but I did not glorify Him. Nor was I thankful to Him. My thoughts were futile. My dark heart was foolish.
Sunday after Sunday, I picked up on the truth that the God who is real needed to be reckoned with. Night after night, I picked over the bones of these facts before I went to sleep. One night, I knew that I had to ask God for forgiveness. I had a copy of a well-known tract of the time, called Journey Into Life by Norman Warren. The tract ends with this well-known “sinners’ prayer”. Yes, I know! Today, I am not an advocate of the sinners’ prayer concept. But God used it to bring me to Him. And when I prayed about being a sinner, I really did mean it, so I know that God could use it. This is the prayer from Journey Into Life.
Lord Jesus Christ, I know I have sinned in my thoughts, words and actions.
There are so many good things I have not done. There are so many sinful things I have done.
I am sorry for my sins and turn from everything I know to be wrong.
You gave your life upon the cross for me. Gratefully I give my life back to you.
Now I ask you to come into my life.
Come in as my Savior to cleanse me.
Come in as my Lord to control me.
And I will serve you all the remaining years of my life in complete obedience.
I do not know when I prayed that prayer, but within a couple of weeks, it was Easter 1977—April 10th 1977. So I know that on Christmas Day 1976, I was not a Christian, while on Easter Sunday 1977, I had become one. My salvation must be between those two dates. I used to be embarrassed about not knowing the exact date. Not anymore! The truth of my salvation is a real fact, as much as the fact of the reality of God hit me through the fact of the reality of His creation.