The Day I Accepted Jesus as my Personal Lord and Savior

March 7, 2013 at 5:23 pm (Uncategorized)

I don’t remember the exact day or year, although it definitely was in August. It was the kind of August heat that makes you almost dizzy when it mixes with the dust and smell of animals at the Clark County Fair. I must have been 11 or 12–old enough to wander away with my brother, but before cell phones or the ability to go to the fair in the first place without parental supervision. My father was around somewhere, probably talking with the Pop Warner recruiters at their table.

Thus Austin and I were allowed to roam freely, past tables full of things that were not free food and therefore meaningless. We come around a corner when a large brunette women, perhaps in her mid 40s, stops us. She greets us kindly (and there was some candy on the table, so I was predisposed to stop) and asks us if we’ve accepted Jesus as our personal lord and savior. I don’t recall exactly what I said, but it wasn’t a yes.

At this point it may be helpful to bring up the religious background (or lack thereof) I was raised in. People who already know me will have a sense of this, but I feel an explanation brings some clarity to the situation. I have always been drawn to the truth–science, religion, politics and philosophy have fascinated me for as long as I can remember (Over the years I have held many ill conceived beliefs, but the one constant is that I am willing to reexamine my viewpoints when presented with compelling evidence. If there is in fact a God, I am eternally grateful to have been endowed with that capacity. I digress). My mother grew up Catholic, my father not much of anything at all (he settled into atheism) and growing up I just never went to church. It was something that I understood that other people did, but we didn’t (nor did anyone in my close family, at least not regularly) so my standard of normal was having Sundays more or less free to do whatever. Football was the only obligation.

So when this woman asked me about Jesus, it was a simple enough matter to shrug and say that no, we hadn’t accepted him into our hearts and minds. So she pulls us behind the table, around this kind of half corner so she can get us alone. This naturally raises some warning bells in my young mind–thoughts of this woman stealing us from the fair arise rather quickly. She is earnest bordering on frightening. My brother and I recite something, declare that we are giving our souls to Jesus, she gives us tiny copies of the new testament and talks at us for a while. At this point I”m pretty convinced that she is going to kidnap me, but after what feels like an eternity she lets us go.

I bring this up not to say that Christianity is bad, or that Christians are strange (I don’t think that they as a group are any stranger than any of us), but to say that kids are malleable. I think that part of me was like, “wow this is an easy loophole into heaven, I’ll take it.” That the rest of my brain was planning escape routes is another matter, but I’m sure there was no harm intended. One thing my parents told me is to always ask questions. I think there is a way to develop a coherent understanding of Christianity without having blind faith. I think it makes ones faith more real. I know that I have a much more respect for people who are willing to engage in conversation about different viewpoints than I do for people who say “I’m right and you’re wrong, there is no room for conversation.” Let’s at least TRY to understand why someone might have a radically different worldview than you.

One more story about Christianity, while I’m on the topic. I had a physical science teacher (who was also a football coach) named Les Albert. He taught me about mass, force, work, and simple machines. It was like physics lite, with an emphasis on understanding how things work, if I remember correctly. Freshman year of high school was a long time ago. Mr. Albert was a very devout Christian, and I’m fairly sure he didn’t believe in evolution. He never pushed it in our faces, but after every test the next day we would watch this video series where a creationist would talk about why he thought scientific evidence pointed towards creationism (a link to one of his videos I found here: http://www.creationtoday.org/dinosaurs-and-the-bible-seminar-part-3/). We were always told that we didn’t have to believe it, but that he believed strongly in this stuff and wanted to present the other side of the argument. I can’t say that I was swayed (I’m half tempted to go back and watch these videos now to see what I think), but I did admire coach Albert for wanting us to see both sides. Because even though I think it’s kind of crazy to think that the world is 6,000 years old, and that there are mountains of scientific evidence telling us the earth is billions of years old, he wasn’t telling us what to think. He just was asking us to question if MAYBE something else was possible. I wasn’t swayed, but I enjoyed listening. Plus, we got to watch videos in class.

Anyway, after one of these videos on our way out the door someone asked how many people in the class were Christians, and like EVERYONE raised their hand. I remember distinctly being asked “What about you, Jordan?” To my dismay I answered that I was. I wish I could have told them what I would tell them now, that I don’t discount the possibility of God but that the evidence seems like it points in the other direction. That the Bible should be used as a philosophical tool and not as obtuse justification for your every prejudice. That I’m not really sure Jesus did all those things and that if he’s even mostly like the guy in the New Testament you probably wouldn’t like him very much. That the bible was written (and translated/re-translated) by men. That I respect your beliefs but this REALLY feels like peer pressure, guys.

But I didn’t. I said “yeah,” in a little voice.

Though when I think about it, it may have technically been true, because I accepted Jesus into my heart at the Clark County Fair.

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