We all have a story. Some of them are more spectacular than others. A friend told me today that he knew it was a God thing when he happened to be in a market near a liquor display and realized that the bottles didn't talk to him any more. For many years, on one hand I am grateful that I have never been in really bad trouble, but on the other hand, I didn't think that I had an earth-shattering story to tell. Last Sunday, when Pastor Paul was sharing his dramatic testimony, I realized that those of us of us who grew up in the church still had a point in time where we had to make our own decision about God. It could be something as simple as whether or not we would go to church on Sundays. It could be looking at our friends and asking if I really ought to be going some of the places they liked to go, or doing things they liked to do. We might even choose to go through the motions, stay within the Christian subculture, but without wanting to make the decisions that truly following Jesus would mean. When Jesus was on earth, many people saw and heard Him. Some followed, and some turned away.
I had a good college friend, a pastor's son, who decided that he just didn't believe it any more and was really rather noisy and annoying about it. It was obvious that he wasn't going to listen to anybody, so I just let him rant and beyond not agreeing, didn't say a whole lot. He graduated a couple of years ahead of me, and we had the same faculty advisor. One day, this professor told me that he had received a request for information from a seminary about him. Shortly afterwards, he came through the campus on a visit, and made a point to look me up--to apologize for all the nonsense he had dumped on me. A year of graduate-level physics had convinced him that there is more to the universe than the obvious, and that he wasn't able to be who he knew he needed to be on his own. I was also recently in touch with a very good friend that had grown up with me in the same church, and I had recognized when we were in college that he was walking away from God--and he has never turned back. I have friends who grew up in totally dysfunctional homes that you could barely call a family--and at some point God reached out to them.
This is what is unique to our faith: God comes to us. We are not responsible for our earthly origins--but we are accountable for our response to the light we are given.