Part of the series, Game-Changers
Looking back, it’s obvious that my relationship with God first took root, not from some major realization of his reality or right to claim my life. Or in some sudden clarity of vision.
And it wasn’t planted into the deep soil of faith and conviction.
At the time, my mind was all question and struggle. Many questions, many struggles.
For me, the seed of God’s life was planted in a soil made up, mainly, of terrifying fear and life-threatening loneliness.
No one I talked to at the time—and I talked to a lot of people at the time—none of the people I talked to was able to answer my questions in any way that seemed to help. Though many of them tried mightily and courageously.
It really wasn’t their job.
Only God himself could answer my questions. And he had to bring me to a place where I could hear and respond.
And, for the first time in my life, trust.
So one night, all alone, all my friends gone home for Spring Break, I just broke down and gave up.
How do I describe the noise that was going on in my head? Voices from the past. Voices from the present. Voices of fears and voices of grief. And voices I did not recognize until much, much later.
The noise of my heart banging against my chest.
A deafening hum. I could literally hear my pulse beating in my ears. I dreaded the night and saw no hope in the dawn.
(I used to have panic attacks in those days. Sometimes alone in my room. Sometimes on the way to class. The only way I knew to relieve them was to go cling to some poor friend who was trying to study or practice the piano. That night, it was like the sum of all panic attacks I’d ever had. And there was no one around to cling to or even call on.)
I just sat there alone, in the middle of the living room of a borrowed house, every light I could find turned on. All the curtains closed as tight as I could make them.
And I gave up.
I said—out loud, because that was the only way I could hear my thoughts through the noise—I said, “God. I don’t know if you’re real. I just know I can’t take this any more. If you’re real and if you care, I will give all I know of me to all I know of you.”
And I waited.
And I realized the noise had stopped.
And there was quiet.
And I was able to sleep.
I didn’t realize it then, but it was on that night, during Spring Break, just before midnight, that everything I knew changed.
March 23, 1974.
Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
—1 Kings 19:11-12