About a third of the way through the first semester of a technical electronics program at college in 1963 is when significant conviction about where my life was headed begin to grip my heart.
I had entered college thinking that the large amount extra of time I spent studying and preparing for my high school classes had enabled me to be able to read and learn at a faster pace. I knew that I needed to learn at a faster pace in order to get through a semester of college carrying a normal full load. I thought that I had actually increased my learning speed to be fast enough to handle a normal full college course load like my friends and brothers that successfully went through college. I remember a proverb posted in the main hallway of the high school that stated “If at first you don’t succeed try, try again”. Because of that proverb, I decided to spend the extra time studying my class material, thinking that the extra time spent would increase my learning speed to a level that would enable me to successfully handle a normal college semester course load. Wow, I was really wrong about that. In high school I had to spend three times longer studying my high school class material in order to be able to match a grade level of about a B, that my brothers and friends typically got in the same classes. One third of the way through that first semester at college, I sadly realized that all that extra work in high school had not increased my learning speed at all because I was flunking; and I could not keep up with my class studies. I now sadly realized that the proverb, that was hanging in my high school hallway, was partially true and gave me false hope. Yes, I learned that by spending extra time studying I could learn the material; but to be highly successful, like I wanted to be, in this competitive world time was a very important issue. Because that proverb left off the time element, it just lifted me up and prepared me to encounter a very great emotional fall.
I emotionally fell in to a dark cave and could not see any hope of having a successful life in this competitive world. I gave up and stopped studying my class material. I was so emotionally down that I did not trust anybody and did not seek any counsel from anybody. I felt that I was so slow at learning that I was a useless bag of walking flesh and blood in this world. The mental memories of the taunting of slow students like myself that occurred in grade school also came back to mentally haunt me. I started a daily routine of hiding by walking around campus sidewalks, through campus buildings and streets in the college town looking like a real college student with books under my arm with a dark cloud over me. Those walks were filled with a constant thoughts rolling through my brain like, “David, you useless hunk of flesh blood, your life is obviously worthless and you will be nothing but fodder for people to steam roll over. What is my purpose for being alive? What is the purpose of human life existing?”
After several weeks, new thoughts begin to surface in my brain such as, “This life for me in the flesh is going to be like a living hell. What if the Bible is correct about God really existing and about humans really being a part of His creation and about being responsible to believe in Him and about living according to His rules and about there being a real hell to spend eternal punishment in after this physical life is over? Do I want to spend this present physical life in what seems like a living hell now just to die and spend an eternity in a real hell?” Memories of what I had read and heard at church during the few times our family attended begin to rise up out of my mental storage area. At least, my memory could remember a few things!
Some strange things begin to happen to me then. I started becoming more and more upset with my roommate in the dorm I was in. Since I was raised on a farm, watching him was like watching a bull in a herd of cows that are all in heat. It seemed like almost every other night he would return to our room in the middle of the night and wake me up and brag to me about the one-night-stand he just had with some girl. I thought to myself that if God and eternal hell really existed my roommate would inter hell in a spectacular fashion. He apparently did not like the fact that I did not like to listen to his bragging about his one-night-stands. So, he arranged with one of his friends in another room to swap rooms with me. I agreed. My new roommate did not have the same problem my old roommate had, but he did hold to a philosophical philosophy that helped my thinking turn more and more to the Bible, but he was not a Christian. He had asked me if I was a Christian, but I did not answer him with a direct answer. I just told him that I had attended a Lutheran Church some. He told me that he did not believe in a real hell after death. His philosophical belief was that all humans have a spark of god in them and that we all would become gods after death; and since there was no supreme god to punish all the gods in heaven there could not be punishment after death; therefore, a real hell did not exist. His philosophy implied that all the gods had wicked natures like humans. I thought, “Who would want a god or gods like that. There would be not any real justice ever take place.” He also told me that he could do any evil thing he desired in this life, including killing me for what ever reason he had, and he would never be held accountable for those sins after death. He said that the only thing he would have to worry about was getting caught by the police in this life. He also had a strange habit of making darts out of wooden pencils with a straight pin in the eraser. Often I would feel something hit my leg, arm or rear end, and I would find his homemade dart stuck in me. That annoyed me much. I thought he was a very strange fellow, but his philosophy and strange actions did cause me to focus more on spiritual things and the Bible. His discussions about his mythical beliefs convinced me that the God described in the Bible would be the God I would accept if He really did exist. Those discussions with him helped me recognized that all pagan religious systems contained far too much mythology in them. Those discussions, also, helped me realize that the Bible hardly had anything comparable to the mythology found in pagan religious systems.
If I was not sitting in my room or wandering around campus or town, I would be in the dorm dinning room listening to the other fellows in the dorm talking. I soon found out that the fellows segregated into two basic groups. One group, that I academically was at the bottom of, was the lower IQ folk. The other group was the higher IQ folk. I would vary what group I sat with at meal times and listen to their talk. After a while, I began to notice a common topic of discussion that often occurred in both IQ groups. If someone told the others in their group about their one-night-stands or other sins they committed, someone would speak up and say that he would go to hell for his sin. The person talking about his sin would reply, “that is not a problem since God does not exist and therefore hell does not exist”, and about 75% of the other listening agreed with him. He would continue to explain that God does not exist since all life and humans evolved from a puddle of soup over hundreds of millions of years; there is no need of a creator God since science has proven that all life evolved without the aid of any creator. The conversations would then continue on to the topic of evolution. What was interesting to me, was that, most of the time, the topic of evolution always got started after someone mentioned sin and hell. This occurred in both IQ groups. It was very obvious that their primary reason for accepting naturalism’s creation story of evolution was for the purpose of keeping their conscience from bothering them and escaping eternal punishment in hell. As a side note, if you take the word science out of naturalism’s evolutionary creation story, the hypothesis of soup to us, it sounds as mythical as pagan religious systems.
By this time in my emotional turmoil about my academic failure, I was already contemplating doing what I had seen many do in grade school, high school and college that had low academic capabilities like I had. In order to feel useful and important in life, they would speak boastfully, growl, howl and cuss getting the attention of everyone around them, primarily targeting those of a lower IQ then themselves. I had also noticed that a great many in grade school, high school and college that had high IQ’s in order to feel useful and important in this life would not growl, howl or cuss, but with smooth intellectual speech intellectually humiliate others around them in order to get attention, primarily targeting those with lower IQ’s than themselves. I obviously could not employ the later technique to obtain a feeling of usefulness and importance in this life, since I did not have a high enough IQ. By this time my knowledge of the description of sin in Bible was already convicting me of the sin of being self centered; and if the God of the Bible really existed, I was definitelyheaded for an eternity in hell after death. By this time my mental thinking process had coined descriptive phrases for the two groups of boastful self centered people described above as “dumb barking bulldog steamroller operators” and “intellectual steamroller operators”.
To achieve a sense of usefulness and importance in my life, I start contemplating heading my life down the path of life using the technique of the “dumb barking bulldog steamroller operator’s” life style. However, my heart was already under the conviction that my life was headed for hell if God really exists; and if I steered my life in the direction of being a “dumb barking bulldog steamroller operator”, there was no way I could escape hell. So, I started thinking about avoiding the conviction of sin in my heart by trying to convince myself that the creator God described in the Bible really did not exist and justifying that idea by accepting the belief that everything, including man, evolved by itself by time and blind random chance over hundreds of millions of years. However, the thought rose up in my mind that I need to know for CERTAIN that everything evolved by time and blind random chance, instead of having been created by the God of the Bible. I then started thinking back over the stuff I had learned in high school biology classes. As I pondered the functions and components in living cells, I intuitively realized there was a massive quantity of intelligent design implication signs written on every structure and function in living cells and on every structure and function in all living organisms. My hope of finding absolute proof that time and blind random chance evolution occurred and that God absolutely does not exist disappeared in a puff of smoke.
I did not immediately accept that the God of the Bible really exists. I did not repent and accept Christ as my savior at that time either. Instead, I continued roaming the campus and re-pondering everything I had pondered already. Finally, one evening, sometime before the end of the semester, I came to the conclusion that the God of the Bible through the Bible accurately described the state of man; and that God created everything, not time and blind random chance; and that I was responsible to Him. That evening I prayed to God and confessed to him that He does exist and that I accepted His Word which stated that I and all humans were sinners on our why to hell; and that now I believe that if I did not trust in Christ as my savior as recorded in the Bible, I was on my way eternal punishment in hell. I told Him that I believed I was a sinner in need of him forgiving my sins through Jesus’ sacrifice, death and resurrection, and I told Him that I now believe and trust in His Son Jesus as my savior (sacrifice for my sins). I also told him that I knew I would probably be ridiculed for the rest of my life for believing in Him and believing in His Son as my sacrifice for sins and for trying to live a godly lifestyle pleasing to Him and for believing the He was the creator of all the universe, earth and life on earth, not time and blind chance evolution. I also ask God to help me in my studies that semester, but He did not answer that studies request. From that time on I had a new thirst in my heart, which was to study the Bible and learn more about Him and His will for mankind.
I finished the semester with a failing grade, and I did not return to college the next semester. In February of the following year I enlisted in the Army Security Agency for a four year tour of duty, in order to avoid being drafted. I had heard that I could get better military electronics training, that was at a slow pace than a full semester college course load was, if I give the Army more than two years of my life. In basic training and advanced training I found myself constantly trying to study the Bible, but I need some help. Toward the end of my advanced training course, I was leaving a Sunday morning chapel service at one of the post chapels, when another soldier stopped me and asked me if I was interested in attending a Bible study group in the chapel on Tuesday nights. I accepted the invitation and started attending the study. The Lord kept me stationed at Fort Devens, Massachusetts for the rest of my four year tour of duty, and I attended the Bible study every Tuesday, except when on leave. While studying the Bible in that Bible study group, I came to see how God had used the circumstances I encountered during that life changing semester in college. I came to see and realize that God had also manipulated circumstances to encourage me to decide to enlist in the Army. Enlisting in the Army moved me away from everyday contact with my old life and put me in contact with some very faithful godly believers in the Army and made weaning me away from my old lifestyle easier.
While listening to others in the Bible study giving their testimony of salvation, I noticed that the majority of them had some other Christian witnessing to them when they became convinced to repent and accept Christ as their savior. I realized that my salvation experience was different, in that there was not another Christian witnessing to me while the Lord was drawing me to his Son, Jesus. The Lord used what little of His Word I had learned in the few times that I attended church while growing up on the farm in Oklahoma and a strange new-age college roommate telling me what he believed and why he rejected the Bible. All during that time the Holy Spirit was convicting and drawing me, and God was humbling me by manipulating circumstances in my life to break my heart and bring me to the very bottom emotionally. I really enjoyed and rejoiced in hearing about how God worked in the lives of the other Christians in drawing them to faith in Christ.
My studying the Bible has continued through the years since I was saved. I rejoice, that in some small ways, that God uses me and other Christians as He controls circumstances in the lives of those He foreknows he can convince to believe in Him and accept Christ as their savior.