By Rob Hart
I was never the religious type. In fact, I had a real party hardy attitude most of my life. I went to church with my parents – but I never heard anything about living the true Christian life. In high school I did what most students do: I got drunk on weekends and hung out with my friends. I went to church only because my parents forced me and because cute girls were there. During most of my high school days I wasn’t too bad because I wanted to get into a good college – which would help me in my overall goal of becoming a millionaire. However, by the time I was a senior I started experimenting with marijuana.
I started college in August of 1985 with the attitude that these were the years of experimentation. I immediately became involved in the drug culture at the University of Florida. I usually tried any drug that came my way. I would smoke pot when I awoke in the morning, and I stayed stoned all day. Needless to say, I missed about 50 percent of my classes. This lifestyle went on for about two years when I finally realized that my grades were not conducive to my lifelong goal. I still smoked pot everyday, but in “moderation” while studying and going to most of my classes.
I began to read self-help books the summer after my sophomore year, in accordance with my goal of becoming a millionaire. Meanwhile, an old roommate, Eric, moved back in with me. Eric had become a born-again Christian, which meant “a nut for Jesus” to me. I was very skeptical about this conversion, but intrigued by the fact that he had quit partying. He had such a peace and joy all the time and it made me curious.
I began to put Eric to the test. I questioned him on the relevancy of the Bible, Jesus Christ, and his relationship with God, as well as stupid questions like, “Did Adam have a navel?” What I found was that my friend was sincere and caring, always using the Bible to back up his statements, and never pretending to know something he didn’t.
Now to me the Bible was an old historical document of the Jews and early Christians. What I didn’t understand was why Eric was living as if it was relevant. As I continually questioned him, he would give me passages of scripture to read and always tell me, “Rob, all you have to do is invite Jesus into your heart and you will understand.” At this point in my life I was an agnostic, I wasn’t denying that there was a God, but I wanted proof. On May 20, 1987, I actually did invite Jesus Christ into my heart. However, I based my commitment on the need for proof.
The proof wasn’t too far in coming. I had said this prayer at 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 20, 1987. At 2 p.m. I started my new job as a solicitor for an environmental group. They picked out a neighborhood for me to solicit memberships, and around 4 p.m. that day I came across a woman who was standing in her yard watching her daughter play. As I questioned her about buying a membership, she told me to come back when her husband returned.
After finishing my rounds through the neighborhood, I came back to their home. She invited me into the living room where her husband sat playing a guitar. They asked me to give a sales presentation, and then offered to make a deal with me. He said he would buy a membership if I would come to his church. I said, “Sure, what church is it?” He replied, “Maranatha Christian Church.” I freaked out because Eric was a member of the same church!
Then it hit me. Jesus Christ was God and He cared enough to show me that He was real. What else could I do when the Creator of the Universe showed me His reality? I had to fulfill my promise to follow Him the rest of my life. However, I’ve also realized that God doesn’t and didn’t have to follow through with my request. It was by grace that He drew me to Himself.