I have been a blogger for three years now. To date, this is the most personal post I have ever written. I debated about writing this post but I felt compelled to share my experience in hopes that it will encourage Christians to take apologetics seriously, because there may come a day when it may be the difference between remaining a Christian or walking away. I know it was for me.
September 16th, 2012, is (to date) the darkest day of my whole life. The short and simple account of that day was that, out of the blue, the woman who had said she wanted to marry me told me that she her changed her mind. Devastation, humiliation, and brokenness came in mere minutes. My life fell apart, and my faith in God was nearly destroyed.
All I will say about the backdrop of my relationship with this woman (who I will leave nameless) is that it was unique. Birthed from serving together at a Christian camp and coupled with a healthy dose of the remnants of the courtship and let-God-write-your-love-story movements, our relationship was not average by any stretch. Explaining what I mean by that, as well as the crazy story behind how we fell for each other, would take too long and really isn’t worth your time. All you really need to know is our relationship was openly headed to marriage…and that I loved her. I loved her very much.
Nearly two weeks later, I was slated to go out of town for training for my new job (which I got solely for the purpose of providing for my then-future wife). Even though I was numb and dead on the inside, I resolved to get over the pain as quickly as possible. However, the Friday before I left, an unpredicted one-two emotional punch blindsided me with a force nearly equal to the breakup itself. Burying the pain and moving on quietly was now impossible. The details of that particular night aren’t worth your time, but at the end of it I realized that the numbness was gone, and I could feel again. I was angry. I was furiously, passionately, vengefully angry – not at her, but at God.
While it is a mystery to me, I firmly believed then (as I still do) that somehow God’s sovereign decree and the human will work together to accomplish the will of God. This left me with the question of why. Why did this happen? Why did God allow this to happen? Why did it seem that God was leading us to marriage and then let the exact opposite happen? Questions like these gave my anger a place to take root, and that next morning, I began my 45 minute drive to work with those questions burning in my soul. Soon, I found myself in a position I never imagined I could be in: my mind raged with a desire to rebel against God. I was done. I couldn’t continue believing in Christianity. I thought I was walking in faith, and it led me to ruin. Never in my entire life had I felt such a strong, compelling lure to unbelief. It appeared to provide relief from the unresolved questions, the disappointment, the feeling of being betrayed, all with a simple premise: there is no God. I was one conscious decision away from affirming that premise.
And yet I couldn’t. I was angry, angrier than I had been in my whole life, but as I drove to work that day preparing to bury my faith, I found that I was doing so as an act of anger against God. My desire to walk away presupposed that God was there and could be walked away from, just as a jump presupposes some surface under your feet to push off of. My study of atheism and agnosticism as an apologist kicked in, and I found myself questioning the worldview I was about to embrace. Realizing that I couldn’t accept a form of unbelief, I began to pray. It was not a mild, meek prayer. It was a tearful, enraged, and bitter prayer…but it was the start of something that would eventually make me into who I am now.
One year has now passed since that day, and I am still a Christian. In fact, I now see what I went through, as painful and scarring as it was, as part of God’s sanctifying work in my life. It was for good that he broke me and brought me to my life’s lowest point. As God began rebuilding my relationship and trust in him, I began to see Jesus in a way that I had not seen him. I began to truly understand what it means to be one of his followers. Idols and sins in my life were revealed so that I may repent of them. My understanding and faith in Christ prior to the day it fell apart is completely different to the understanding and faith I have in him today, and I don’t think it could have happened without going through a very dark season. By the grace of God, I am more devoted to him than ever before.
My point in sharing my story is that, in that period of time where I felt my entire worldview shake, I needed something external to my worldview – facts – that could ground me while my emotional and spiritual condition crumbled to the ground. In the days and weeks that followed the 16th, when my anger and pain led me to contemplate walking away from Christ, my apologetics training and studies provided a voice of reason against the backdrop of unrestrained emotion. As much as I wanted to disbelieve in God in a foolhearted attempt to make the pain go away, the flaws in the atheist and agnostic worldviews were still there. I knew what they were, and I could not ignore them even when I was seconds away from adopting one of them. If I had not been trained in apologetics, I would not have written this post. I would not be Christian. One year ago, apologetics saved my faith – and hence I believe it is urgently needed in the church so that whenever that day comes where you question everything you believe, you can have something solid to stand on. By the grace of God, I was able to stand – and remain standing today.