Let me start this off by saying something. I don't try to force my beliefs on anyone and I don't judge anyone by their beliefs. This is just what I believe, my faith, and my opinion. If you're easily offended, you should probably click back now.
I sincerely believe that the world has gone crazy simply because we have not surrendered to God's will. And the cynic in me doesn't blame anyone one bit. This is an age where we need to see to believe, and the very notion of God is that you cannot see and hear Him in the traditional sense. To understand, I think you need to feel on a much deeper level, and face things within yourself you may shy away from.
I've always believed in God because I was raised that way. Now that I'm a little older, I don't believe a lot of what I saw as a kid. I've been exposed to so much hypocrisy in church that I flat-out refuse to go back. I've seen pastors preach about marital fidelity and then try to get into my mom's pants. I've seen preachers who drive BMW's and convertible sports cars and talk about giving back to God. Child molestation is so rampant in the Catholic Church that it's actually become acceptable to make jokes about it. I don't really believe in the practice of infant baptism anymore, but I respect the majority opinion on it. Seriously, how're you supposed to follow anything when your first impression is some guy speaking in a loud voice and drowning you at the same time?
I found God—more like He found me—when I was an adult.
There is a little-known shelter in the worst part of Saginaw, Michigan. It's not in any phone book. You only find out about it through word of mouth. This place used to be the very definition of the word "crooked". I opted to stay here, rather than the well-known Rescue Mission, because they didn't preach or force you to attend any services, either. They didn't necessary make you do anything to better yourself, either. You could languish there forever.
I was there not even three years ago, now.
On the mend (as always) and working at a rinky-dink telemarketing agency, one of the so-called better managers got word of who I was, and it turned out there were other former fighters there, so he organized this tournament in which people fought to a knockout, and the grand prize was only a thousand dollars. When you're broke, homeless, and you need a way out, you will kill for a thousand dollars. I saw it as my ticket out. I entered the tournament, and made a very good friend in a Capoeira expert who taught me some of the basics.
As the tournament went on over the course of a month, both me and my newfound friend excelled through a bunch of newbies until the situation presented itself that we might face one another. Although we laughed and joked, deep down, neither of us wanted to fight each other. True friends in the street are very hard to come by, and one of us facing defeat would've ended that.
Turns out we didn't have to face off.
Another fighter no one was paying attention too was accelerating to the final match just as quickly as we were. This guy wound up facing off against my friend and broke his leg in two places. It boiled down to him and me in the finals, and after what I had been through in KCMO and Bay City, I didn't think I had a chance in Hell against this guy.
I went to the man who organized this whole thing and told him I wanted out. Although I offered to buy my way out (a coward's way, but it happens) he simply warned me that there would be consequences for my actions.
The next night, as I'm walking back towards the shelter, a four-door Crown Vic beater pulls up about three blocks away from me. Someone steps out of the backseat and raises something metallic that glints in the moonlight. I remember it going through my head; "Holy shit, is that a gun?!"
I saw the muzzle flash before I heard the shot. That's how fast a bullet travels. The projectile was past me before I even heard the gun go off. The bullet didn't come anywhere near me—deliberately—I think, but I ducked instinctively. I heard the car speed off.
I've been shot before, but the bullets weren't for me. This was the first time someone had ever fired a gun directly at me. When I got back to the shelter that night, the man who had organized this tournament asked me how my day went. I got the message.
I consider this the lowest point of my life. I have nowhere left to run, no way to leave the state, no place to call home, all I have is a menial job and a bunch of dreams. At my cot that night, for the first time in over a year, with nowhere else to turn, I got down on my knees and clasped my hands. "God," I said, not sure how to go about this, "Please, see me through this. I will leave this life behind. Please see me through this."
I got up, got onto my cot, and went to sleep.
My friend, although unable to spar, took me under his wing and trained me harder than I've ever been trained before. For two weeks, he stayed outside with me, having me throw kicks against trees until my shins bled, teaching me how to spin without getting dizzy, pushing me to my breaking point and beyond. When the day came that I would take on the man who beat my friend in the finals, we met in the railroad tracks which served as an overpass to a two-lane road that was always busy below us. It was winter, it had snowed the previous night. I remembered thinking that it always seemed to be cold and snowing during my most critical battles.
He stepped in, throwing a cross. I blocked it and came right back, hitting him with everything I have in a gloved right hook.
He spun and turned, falling flat to the ground, unconscious.
For a second, all was quiet. No one, including me, could believe what happened.
Then I collected my thousand dollars. I never fought again.
The money set me up in my first apartment in Bay City. It was a cruddy little studio that was so small that I couldn't stand up in my own bathroom. But when the following winter rolled around, I was living in my own apartment. I went back to a church I trusted in Bay City and had myself re-baptized, confirming my faith in God and Jesus.
Now…I'm thirty-one, I never thought I'd see thirty, I rent a one-bedroom in Jefferson City, I have a great girlfriend, I work in a supervisory position on a job that allows me to pursue my long-fought-for dream, and I'm developing a reputation as a solid investment as a freelancer. To some people, this doesn't seem like much. I don't have the right to ask for anything more.
I don't think you find God, I think He finds you, when you are ready for Him. I don't think you can force people to believe, if you try, you'll just turn them off. I think everyone knows that He's out there, but they need something more to convince them to believe. It may seem trivial, but I liken true Christianity to being a jedi knight; it's a hard, yet rewarding road and when people who don't believe get close to you, they wonder how you do the things you do. Some are unwilling to put the time in when they realize the sacrifices you have to make. I don't own a 360 or even a car. He will bring these things to me when He sees fit. I can relax in that.
But as I'm the only one who's lived my life, people often think I'm strange when they ask me how I can believe in God. My response is always; "How can you not?"
My final example is how He works through the people in your life. I have long been torn between Torque and the XNA developer's community for my game development choices. This morning, I get a message from Soulhuntre telling me to check out the new XNA Premier Developer Community and just like that, I know where I'm supposed to be.
I believe in God because I have seen too much evidence to deny His existence. I believe because He is the only reason I am alive today.
If you really want to believe….if you're honestly looking for God, stop. Stop looking…and let Him find you. I promise you, He is already searching for you, and He will find you, if you let Him.