I’ve been a Christian since 1987 following a series of what I now know to be God-incidences, but at the time saw as pure coincidences. At that time I was living in South-West London, completing a PhD in aerospace composites, and had rejected all forms of religion as absurd, ritual-based superstition and nonsense. What was worse, Christians were ‘obviously’ kill-joys and party poopers. Despite these prejudices, I would admit to thinking Jesus was a bit different in that he seemed to have shown in life and death a consistency of self-sacrificial words and practice that I didn’t find anywhere else.
So, what shifted my position?
God-incidence 1. I was sitting in the front room of the lady living opposite waiting for her to bring the coffee through. She was one of those quiet people who always seemed to be looking out for other people – what I would describe as a ‘giving’ sort of person – which was a bit different in London! She was also somebody who was really easy to talk to and laugh with. As I sat there I noticed the books on her shelf beside me all seemed to have Christian titles. A quick question asking her whether she was indeed a Christian was answered with the word ‘Yes!’ – no more, no less. I remember thinking ‘wow, I want to be like you.’ I was shocked with myself.
God-incidence 2. Sometime later our first child has been born. I have a completely irrational desire to have my son christened, and my Christian neighbour introduces me to the minister of the local church. Shock number 2, the minister is a great guy, straight talking, great sense of humour and it turns out that before becoming a minister he had been a research chemist for the company making the carbon fibre-based materials I was working on.
God-incidence 3. I’ve now started investigating the church my neighbour goes to and find they are a loving, warm, non-judgmental group always keen to have a laugh. I then commit the final mistake of any self-respecting, beleaguered atheist. I ask in my head ‘what is the best thing in the world I can do for my child?’ The instantaneous answer, no time to think was ‘Follow Jesus!’, a quiet yet commanding voice. All my prejudices and doubts were washed away in an instant.
And here I am in May 2022, as we look back to Good Friday and the Easter Sunday that followed, the heart of the truth about Jesus – the one who was prophesied about in the Old Testament that is packed with God-incidences; the Jesus who walked the talk to the bitter end, such that we could have a glorious, joyful, flourishing future.
I hope you had a very happy Easter. Please do watch out for those God-incidences, they are happening all of the time and can be life changing as they were for me. Oh yes, and when I look back on the answer to my question I have come to realise all of the evidence I have seen so far since those fateful two words ‘Follow Jesus’ – seem to be right, but they were not only the best thing I could do for my son, they were the best thing I could do for me, my whole family, my friends and everybody I know.