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Undeniable Divine Direction

I was a hardcore atheist who only days earlier had converted to Christianity in the wake of undeniable miraculous experiences that pointed exclusively to Jesus Christ. I knew almost nothing of the Bible. It was largely a foreign book to me, with only vague generalities about it lingering from my early childhood, hazy thoughts about it from my recent conversion at my grandmother’s funeral, and curiosity about it spurred on by the radio sermon I had just heard the day before.

It was Monday, January 3, 1994, I was only five days old as a Christian and hadn’t really begun to read the Bible yet. Nevertheless thoughts were “coming into my head” reminding me about some of the Bible verses I had heard in that radio sermon. So I got out the Bible that had been given to me at the funeral. And that was when something incredible and unmistakeably miraculous began to happen.

After getting my bearings by remembering about there being an Old Testament and New Testament of the Bible, the thoughts coming to my mind continued. The first verse I remembered from the radio sermon was something about being like a little child to enter the kingdom of heaven. I had absolutely no idea where or how to find that verse, so I just flipped a single, thick chunk of pages in the Bible to start looking, with a sort of haphazard “where is that” prayer in the back of my mind. To my surprise, I found myself looking right at that verse.

I read it and barely understood it, but I was definitely happy at having found it so easily. I mean, I hadn’t even looked at any other verse. In that huge, mysterious 1200-plus-paged Bible with it’s tens of thousands of verses, the verse sort of found me.

I really didn’t have much time to think about it, though, because almost immediately, a new thought came to mind about the controversy over whether Peter was the first pope or whatever. I say “whatever” because I had really only barely heard of it in that radio sermon and only vaguely knew it had something to with Jesus saying to Peter something like, “You are the rock.” With the same kind of half-conscious prayer, I unthinkingly found myself grasping some pages together and flipping back in the Bible. My earlier surprise now turned to excitement as I once again found myself looking directly at the verse I sought! I barely had time to read that second verse when something inside of me was telling me that the true rock of the church couldn’t possibly be a mere man, pope or no pope.

Immediately another verse came to mind—something about the stone the builders rejected becoming the main foundation stone of the temple, which I remembered was about Jesus (whom I had already begun to believe was no mere man). Again, I vaguely wondered where that verse was. I was starting to get clued in that this was New Testament stuff, and I was already in the Gospel of Matthew, but I still had no idea where to look in the couple hundred odd pages of gospel books. But there I went again, just grabbing a small group of pages, but this time turning forward in the Bible. Again, there I was "accidentally" looking right at the the third verse I sought! Excitement now turned to full-on rush as I read the words of the very verse I had been seeking.

Once again, I barely had time to think about it because I found myself thinking “Isn’t that verse somewhere in the Old Testament?” I wasn’t sure if I had remembered that from the radio sermon or what, but I found myself (it all was done almost unthinkingly) grabbing a huge chunk of pages and turning back to about the middle of the Bible deep into the Old Testament. And there the verse was. For the fourth time in a row I had "randomly" found the very verse I was looking for. I was honestly beginning to get dizzy with the rush flowing through me.

That was enough for me. I was about as filled to the brim as one person could handle. It was as if waves of something were rushing through my body, something indescribable yet wonderful beyond words. The whole experience exuded with the presence of a miracle-working being, a being who not only knew both my innermost thoughts and the Bible intimately, but who also could guide my hands and eyes to find what I sought. Was this being God, whom I had accepted into my life only four days earlier at my grandmother's funeral? I could only conclude that being was indeed God Almighty, or the presence and workings of God in an angelic being—or both. I'd soon be telling my old party friends about how God was giving me a divine tour of the Bible!

Honestly, I would never have expected in my former atheism that any such experience could ever happen to a sane individual (and I’m sure some feel the only explanation is that I lost my mind). But those who know me best know that I had trained my mind to systematically exclude supernatural explanations. Yet I had just undergone four experiences in a row that could only be explained supernaturally. Trust me, my habitually rationalistic mind was even still at work trying to explain it all in any other way but a supernatural way. Yet all other explanations would ultimately chalk it all up to mere chance or coincidence, the odds against which are astronomical, especially when you include many other similar experiences that also happened. To me, only a die-hard skeptic could be comfortable with such rationalizations — a blinder faith than the supposed "blind faith" believers are accused of having! (I’ve conservatively estimated that the odds of it all happening by chance are about the same as one person winning the lottery a million times in a row).

But I suppose I shouldn’t have really been surprised at this “quadruple miracle” (perhaps a “quadruple heart bypass”!)—no surprise considering the miraculous events that led to my conversion four days earlier at my grandmother’s funeral. But my whole way of thinking had only just begun to be rearranged.

4 comments:

  1. Blaine, It's heartwarming to read how the miraculous blessings, and workings of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, has awakened you. It's been inspiring to watch you grow. I love you.

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  2. You claim that all this really happened to you, and for the sake of argument let's say that it did. Why should anyone besides YOU believe it happened (let alone that a god of any kind was involved)? You give a personal testimony that cannot be verified, tested, or repeated. Was your former "harcore atheist" position devoid of such demands for evidence? Do you not see how the former you would find such a story to be incredibly suspect? Stories like these happen to people in all religions. Do you allow for their gods to be real too, or just your particular god?

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  3. Thanks for commenting, Michael. Your criticisms are understandable, and in fact they were in my mindset at the time I was going through these things and since then. You should consider, however, that testimonial/historical evidence is not rendered invalid just because it is not subject to scientific repeatability testing. Historical events are by very nature singular and unrepeatable, and can sometimes only be known by testimonial evidence--and the trustworthiness and reliability of the witnesses is key here. Those who knew me before and after can attest that these events are things I claimed at the time they were happening and that I became a radically changed person. This offers some historical verification, although those who wanted to be more sure I wasn't lying or delusional would undoubtedly prefer a more rigorous investigation and are welcome to it. I have to ask, if what happened to me happened to you, would you say to yourself, "Well, I have to ignore it all, because it is not subject to scientific proof, and skeptics will have a hard time believing me"?

    As for doubting whether "any kind of god was involved," I am aware the involvement of God is unprovable in this (I already implied this in the third-to-last paragraph of the post). However, the extreme mathematical improbability of it argues resoundingly against chance explanations. And barring the idea that I was influencing my own reality with my thoughts and miraculously guiding my own hands to whatever scriptures I sought, we are left with some sort of outside being who knew my thoughts (even directed my thoughts), knew where they were to be found in the Bible and in my copy in particular, and who could guide my hands to the particular page and my eyes to the specific part of the page. Also, none of this happened in a historical vacuum, but days after my conversion to Christianity when my faith was already wavering. A pretty tidy package if you ask me!

    As for other people and their religious experiences, I have considered this for many years as well. In fact, by "coincidence" (smiles), my very next post, mostly written years ago but only now about to be published, discusses that topic. Please feel free to read that and respond with another comment if you like. Thanks for reading.

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  4. blaine your awesome! and it's amazing to see all the miracles and wonders God had done through your life in you converting from being an atheist to being a Christian. God works through in each and every one of our lives in different ways, and it just amazing to hear all the miracles you have been through, and how God truly changed your life. I can see with my life that God has spoken through me and shown me things that he truly is the One and Only God. I think I've told you the story but the day before my mom passed away we had a long talk about heaven as we were heading down the mountain to the grocery store. We were talking about what her mom was doing in heaven and truly trying to imagine what she was experiencing. Also we were listening to Greg Laurie and his series on "hope for hurting hearts" on the radio. So were continuing to talk about heaven and we arrive at the store and my mom parks the car. She then tells me "Tommy you may not be ready to go to Heaven but I am, the only thing holding me back is my children." The very next morning she passes away and man I will never forget those words. I feel God took her home because of a broken heart, She loved her mom so much-they were like best friends, and she had only passed away a year before my mom passed. God is so good and I couldn't be happier to know that my mom his home in the presence of our Lord and her loved ones. I know she loved her family so much but God had a different plan. A while ago my mom had a miscarriage and she mourned after the loss of her sweet little girl- but on the bright side she is with her sweet little daughter and her mom walking the streets of gold in heaven. I have gotten stronger in my faith and I feel I am at the point of where I have been the strongest in my faith. I don't go a day without forgetting my mom, but I do have a hope through Jesus Christ and the blood he shed on that cross some 2,000 years ago, that if I keep my relationship with the Lord and stay true to his word that I too someday will be in paradise with my loved ones:) Thanks for sharing your testimony Blaine, God can work in so many beautiful ways. It's a blessing to know you and I hope to see you sometime soon. Miss doing lessons with you, but hey I gotta jam with you sometime.
    Your brother in Christ,
    Tommy Ortiz

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