Because I was dragged to church, whether I wanted to go or not, as soon as I became free of my parents’ clutches, I became an agnostic believing maybe there's a God, maybe not. Yet I felt like there was as I looked around me and considered things. How could all of this just happen by chance?
After a six-month spell in reform school for car theft, and four-and-a-half months in the Army stockade for going AWOL, I settled down somewhat. This was during a period when no war was being waged and I had been sent to advanced infantry training school right after my basic training. I just wanted out of the military altogether.
Stumbling through churches
I went to a church that seemed to celebrate man's achievements rather than honoring God's. It was focused on secular humanism and, though it considered itself a church, it was like none other I had ever attended. The people all seemed to have their own specialized beliefs instead of one unified understanding. Musical “concerts” were regularities. I never felt any closer to God there. God was seldom mentioned anyway.
Another church I stumbled across was teaching pantheistic views, speaking of God as a Universal Presence. It was an interesting philosophy, but void of any true meaning. Then there was one church that didn't believe in going to a doctor to get medical attention. The members believed that Jesus did not die on the cross, but healed Himself while in His burial tomb. They preached that death is only an illusion. One church had portraits on the wall of Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, and other world renowned figures; teaching the idea that all roads lead to God.
Another church contained people who all dressed alike and carried briefcases full of Bible literature. They had even written their own bible. Clean-cut and wholesome looking, they went door-to-door spreading their message. During one visit, to yet another new church in my search, a woman leaped to her feet and began jabbering and running up the aisles. The incident scared me enough to not return. There is a way that seems right to man, but to God, it is foolishness (1 Corinthians 3:19, Proverbs 16:25).
Finding solid ground
It wasn't until I started reading the Bible on my own that I then began to gain an understanding of what it was all about. The choice is really quite simple. You can choose to learn it on your own (or with Bible study groups) or you can just rely on what some other person preaches to you. You have to go to the Word to understand the Word. As written in 2 Timothy 3:16, ”All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
I read a little each morning and each evening. I have read three different Bibles so far. The Word of God never disappoints; it is always uplifting. It is a manual for life instruction and moral values. It will always satisfy your soul (Psalm 107:9).
I got all my answers through reading the Bible on a daily basis. I previously had trouble accepting the trinity belief and realized it was the power of the Holy Spirit as a force that was used to empower individuals, not a separate person (2 Peter 1:21).
The Sabbath day troubled me also. How could a so-called Christian nation worship the Lord on a day that was named in honor of the image of the sun god? Exodus 20:8 states clearly to keep holy the Sabbath! Is that not the day we call Saturday? Baptism was another misunderstanding I wanted to clear up. The sprinkling of water does not cut it. Full immersion is required as illustrated in the Word. The laying on of hands and receiving the Holy Spirit is also required. (Matthew 3:16) This is not done in many churches.
I am still learning about God and will go on learning until the day of my death. At that time I hope that I can say, as it is written in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
It took some time, but I have learned that what's important when God is calling you, is to always look to His word for truth. If someone is teaching what doesn't conform to that, then it's time to move on. His or her message should never add or subtract from scripture.
To learn more about how to connect to God’s instruction manual for life, read our free Bible study aid How to Understand the Bible.