From Prideful Agnostic to Jesus Follower

June 30, 2014

I grew up just outside Washington, D.C. to parents who were a huge blessing in many ways. They supported me financially and I never went without. I got to travel quite a bit and attend great schools. But I didn’t go to church.

In fact, until I moved to Texas after law school, I never even knew anyone who went to church regularly. My examples of Christians were all people who claimed to believe in a God and then who literally never did anything about it or listened to anything that He told them. That made no sense to me and I vowed never to do it.

My parents also divorced when I was about 13. On the outside I don’t think it affected me. I didn’t really act out and I didn’t think I was too terribly upset about it. But one thing it did do to me was create a huge relationship idol in my life. I was determined not to end up alone after putting in years of marriage and finding the right woman to marry and have kids with quickly became my identity.

Throughout college, law school and afterward, every girl I dated I was determined to stick by. In my mind this was loyalty. In reality, this was being incredibly scared of being single. And this led to my engagement. I’m not going to go into all the things that were wrong with that relationship so much as I will point out my life view at the time. I was a recently graduated very young lawyer with my own successful law firm, and I had finally secured a very beautiful and intelligent fiancee. In my mind I had accomplished everything I wanted and I think most people looked at me as having it all together.

I did not.That relationship was not healthy and because I had let it become my identity I clung to it for far longer than I should have. When it inevitably ended (prior to marriage), I was crushed.

Fortunately, I had some very good friends. These friends happened to be in a worship band. I would go and hang out with one of them, the lead singer and we would play video games and eat pizza and he would listen to me being sad. At one point, while we were smoking cigars, the drummer asked me what I thought about what they did.

I expressed honestly that I had always admired people of faith but had never been able to come to it myself. My opinion had basically always been that it was impossible to know the nature of God. With the best of intentions, the lead singer offered me The Case for Christ, which I quickly read but found somewhat unconvincing. It did, however, spark an interest in reading more and I quickly added Mere Christianity, The Reason for God and There is a God to the list of books I’d completed. Between all of them, the historical and logical arguments for a supernatural Jesus became overwhelming.

But, if I was going to come to Christ it was not going to be out of brokenness but only after careful consideration. I read Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion because it appeared to me to be the most popular argument against Christianity. I found Dawkins to be anything but the skeptic that he claims to be. He just has a different God.

I eventually picked up the Bible and started reading the Gospel. Everything in it rung true to me. I felt undeserving of my gifts and like the worldly standards for what constituted a “good person” were pathetic. People considered me to be a good person and I most certainly was and am not.

Christian songs like Relient K’s Be My Escape and I So Hate Consequences, songs I’d listened to, enjoyed, and known were about Christ well before I was ever considering Christianity, hit me powerfully.

Then I went to a church service for the first time in my life. It was an Easter service at Burgundy Road’s home church, River Valley Christian Fellowship. There the pastor, Cody, spoke on Proverbs 21:9, which states essentially that it is “better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” I found it odd that on Easter Sunday this pastor wasn’t speaking on the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection but instead had essentially just summed up the one piece of information that if I had truly taken it to heart several years earlier, would have saved me the tremendous heartache I had just undergone.

Was it a coincidence? I wasn’t sure. If it was, it was an incredible one. I began to pray that if God was real that He would show me (not realizing He already had been).

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”- Matthew 7:7

The same month I drove out to the 360 bridge at around midnight, drove down below by the boat ramp, smoked a cigar and prayed for salvation.

~Michael Warden