By: Christopher Anton
It might not be what you are putting in your life or the lifestyle you lead that is making you depressed, sick, sad, or unfulfilled. It might be what you are not putting in your life. The absolute healing and atoning power of Jesus can and will make the difference.
You might go to church 7 times a week, lead the choir, genuflect and do silly little back flips down the isle in front of your congregation, go to confession, take communion daily, or be able to recite the Bible backward in your sleep. But if you’re not following Jesus, these actions don’t mean anything. Conversely, you might be getting drunk daily, leading the local chapter of the satanic bikers club, or hanging upside down in handcuffs every night wearing a goat mask, but here again if you’re not following Jesus, these actions alone will not reconstitute your heart to see the truth. Again, it takes the blood of Jesus.
I’ve been fortunate to have had a conversion experience that involved being an agnostic, to atheist, and back to Christ. Today I will go anywhere God calls me to go. I’ve seen Jesus not only in churches, but also in goth clubs, dance clubs, concerts, skate parks, and bars. I’m often confronted by atheists and I have to admit it is a peculiar feeling talking to someone who is where I was. I understand where atheists are. I know what that world is. I do see that there is a sincere yearning for truth in many people's hearts. I understand how difficult it is to look from that set of precepts, to see the world through that window of atheism and not understand why or how Jesus makes sense. My best explanation of what happened to me in my conversion experience is that I had a revelation of Truth. This can come to a person in several different ways. It can manifest by way of instant healing, miracle, or supernatural experience, but sometimes a spiritual experience can happen by way of education over a period of time. In his classic work, "The Varieties of Religious Experience," William James describes this occurrence as a spiritual experience of “the educational variety”.
An example of this is William Ramsay (1851-1939). Ramsay was a was a well known archaeologist and scholar from Scotland. In 1906 he was Knighted to mark his distinguished service to archaeological and historical studies. He was raised an atheist, attended The University of Aberdeen in Scotland, as well as Oxford University in England. Ramsay studied with theological modernists and skeptics who disbelieved the Bible. His contemporaries believed that the Bible is not an historically accurate document and that it is comprised of large segments of mythology. At the time it was thought that the book of Acts was not written until 150 A.D., which would have been at least a about a century after the events covered within the book. In 1881 Ramsay began archaeological research in Asia Minor. He hoped to find evidence against the Bible. Instead his discoveries led to his conversion to Christianity and his conclusion that Acts was written during the lifetime of the apostles.
My personal revelation of Truth was instantaneous. I was an alcoholic. I could not control my drinking. In spite of my best intentions and resolutions to stop I failed continuously as I struggled to find a permanent reprieve from my obsession of the mind coupled with a physical dependency on alcohol. Alcoholism is defined by the American Medical Association as "a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psycho-social, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations." I was the type of drinker that would black out and disappear once I picked up the first drink. I would become unpredictable, and I was obsessed with staying drunk as soon as I picked up the first drink. I did not want to be this way. I was miserable, but it was beyond me why I lived this way. The bottle was my master and I had no internal ability to defend myself from the persistent compulsion to drink. Once I began to drink the physical addiction inside me would insistently pursue more and more alcohol. It's hard to explain this phenomenon to people who don't suffer from the same affliction, but I can tell you that it was real, and unbelievably frightening. I had no recourse or control.
I would frequently spend days on end drinking until drunk, falling asleep, then begin drinking again upon waking up. It was in the middle of a standard bender like this when a revelation came to me. I was drunk on Wednesday November 22nd, 1995 when it occurred to me how unbelievably out of control I was. I knew on some level that I was an alcoholic, but I had never had a revelation of this magnitude. I suddenly realized that there was nothing inside me that could stop this out of control cycle. It hit me like getting getting run over by a tank. I realized that it didn't matter how hard I tried to stop. It didn't matter what I did to curtail my problem. It didn't matter if I locked myself in a cage. This disease, and it's incessant compulsive nature would not stop for anything. I had zero control over it. It took 11 years of this cycle to realize that I was at the end of my rope, and that was when everything changed. At this point in my life I considered myself an atheist, but what I did next came out of sheer desperation, and an understanding that I was completely out of resources with zero hope. So I did the unthinkable. I dropped to my knees and I prayed. I asked God to help me. Then I heard a voice. It simply said “put down your drink and go to detox”. It was so profound, so crystal clear that I did what it said. I was in the middle of a fifth of Jack Daniels. I never ever put down bottles unless they were empty, but this was the day that somehow with the voice of the Holy Spirit, I did. I put down the bottle and walked out the door and into a social model detox. I never looked back, and never suffered from that hideous cycle of despair again. God healed me. He reached out and saved me when I sincerely asked for help. It's now been over 20 years since that day and I rarely ever think about drinking. Occasionally, the idea of drinking comes into my mind but it's like any other thing in life that I don't want to do. It doesn't manifest in my head. It's a ridiculous thought to me now. This is the power of God, and his ultimate mercy for all of us when we reach out to Him with sincerity. He has the power to heal each and everyone of us. To pull us from the depths of despair no matter how far down we go. God's mercy is consistent, constant, and it endures forever. (Psalm 136). He is always present and waiting for us to seek Him. Paul articulates God's determination for our hearts in his letter to the Romans,“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 8:38-39