An open letter to those who suspect, and to those who know: A greater presence exists...
This could be a cautionary tale, or it could be the halfway point in a story few people wouldn't relate to in some way. It's a little abstract, a little vague, but I wanted to be clear about the real subject here... God. If you do not believe there is such an entity, continue reading. If you do, continue reading. I'm a weird guy, and this probably isn't what you're expecting.
I write this as a complete and total wretch, a scumbag of the lowest order, purchased secondhand and slowly restored; this is a process which is happening now, and a process which has very little to do with willpower. It has nothing to do with some kind of cathartic purge of something bad within myself. It has everything to do with a presence that everyone everywhere (correctly) knows is there on some level or another, but may not know how to know. That presence is God, and I will tell anyone willing to listen, my experience with Him, and I will attempt to put it plainly.
I grew up in a broken home, which is not special. This turned into many bad decisions and perceptions, complexes, anger, escapist attitudes, and being hopelessly self-centered. This is not special either. Also not special is all the damage these things caused to myself and those around me. I would love to tell you stories about crime, violence, drugs, and desperation, but you've heard them before... they're not special. They're not unique, they're shouldn't be entertaining, and most importantly, they're not the point.
Bear with me! The point is, these things describe quite a few people in the world. I believe that people intuitively know that there is a God, never mind for now if you believe that He is the God of the Bible. People know. I knew. I also believe that people also routinely ignore this fact; we ignore it to keep doing something we believe is good. We ignore it because we believe we're too smart to believe something that can't be proven by science. We ignore it because we believe that there is such a thing as spiritual privacy, that we can hide... but we know it's true. I ignored it because if I made it through everything else, who needs God? Even knowing what I know now, it still (sickeningly) makes some sense to say it, if I take a second to continue to ignore. Here's the difference. I ignored it because of all of the above and more, and all of those things would go away one by one, whether I wanted them to or not.
God took these things away from me one by one. God gave me the ability to see the forest for the trees, even if only for a few brief moments at a time. Christians call this Grace, and we believe it's freely given, often (perhaps always) even when what's asked of us isn't returned. I never changed much about myself, but my options were running out. The avenues to all the things I wanted in life were closing off one at a time, to my great disappointment and dismay...
Fast forward to the summer of 2009, when friends invited me to church. With enough of my desires and ambitions hidden away, I went, and the pastor told me that if I genuinely asked Him to change me forever, he would. I was sure that this was something he would have to say to everyone, like a car salesman would have to try and close a deal with everyone that walked in the front door. The part of me that always knew about God was the only part of me that asked for this change, and it was genuine. Everything after this was a part of a nonstop movement toward knowing God, and as I said before, it had little to do with willpower and nothing to do with some cathartic event.
This is a brief summary of the next three months.
At this time I was running a small home based business. The revenue dried up within two weeks and I was looking for a job, a job I wouldn't find for three months. Anyone who's ever been broke knows that it is humbling, and it was no different for me. Within weeks of asking Him to change me, the opportunity to attend a free Bible college, Contenders, geared toward creating ministers was offered. I accepted, and began reading the Bible so that I could be somewhat prepared. During this time, it was important to me to discover WHY this supposed change would occur, and if it really the God of the Bible, and this was my goal in reading it at all. I finally gained employment as the school was beginning; I will always remember this three months as “the reset button”, because of how few distractions and stumbling blocks there were, and because of how humbling they were.
Every day something changed in me... little to do with willpower, and as I searched, I discovered that the promise of personal change is one of many things promised to us by God, all so that we might be complete and together with Him. It's all there in black and white...
Now, I am happy to tell anyone who is still willing to listen that I am in school to become a minister, that the personal change is still ongoing, and that I now understand (at least on a basic level) that God is real, personal, and His promises are right in front of us. That He is right in front of us, all the time. You don't have to be a former criminal or a drug user. Maybe you're the opposite of me, straight-laced, from a normal family and not a care in the world. If you believe that enough about you is good, that you don't believe that He is real, or that nothing about your life puts you in His radar, I'm not writing to tell you that you're wrong. I'm writing to tell you that no matter where you are in life, believer or not, that the promise is real, it's for everyone, and it's more incredible than anything you could imagine... believer or not, none of us will ever even come close to understanding completely, that we all have a long way to walk, and that it overshadows everything else. I can tell you this beyond any doubt, that God is real, He knows you and cares about you.
If you are a believer, you have already experienced this at least a little. If you are not, I know at least a small part of this makes sense. If this is you, or if you actually DO want to hear stories about drugs, crime, etc., I invite you to write to me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alexander T. Taylor
pictured with Di Beals, Canyon Creek Church
Note from Ronda~
To see and know this man now is a blessing.