I think it is time that I relate my story… specifically, the way that I arrived at this paradigm shift. This blog post may be a little longer than usual but I will try to confine the number of words and paragraphs in the interest of brevity. I was raised in fundamental Christianity beginning in the 1950’s. I spent much of my life in church. In those days I was there two times on Sunday, once on Wednesday and every other Friday. In addition there were special church outings and programs. I made a public confession of Jesus as my Savior in 1957 at the age of 11 but had faith in Jesus at a much younger age. I memorized scripture and heard thousands of sermons and Sunday School lessons.
At the age of 19 I began my education in the public university, and little by little I left my faith. There was so much that my religious upbringing taught me that just didn’t square with common sense and scientific fact. I left Christianity but I never left my faith in a benevolent God. I never left my quest for the purpose of existence. I always had a sense that we were here for a greater purpose. In leaving Christianity I left all of the legalistic trappings, and even ventured from time to time into moral laxity… well, actually quite often :). Over time I made questionable choices that resulted in painful experiences. It was in my mid-forties that I became depressed and continually anxious. This triggered a moment of truth. I remember going out on my back porch in Hayward California and looking up to the sky with a prayer in mind.
I prayed, “God I know that you are up there and that you are in charge. I also realize that I am not in charge really. Everybody and their aunt Suzy claims to know you and to know the truth about you and to know truth. They all disagree. They all have books that they claim are inspired and yet there is little or no agreement. Here is what I am saying, I want to serve you and know you so could you please teach me the truth?” That was the extent of the prayer. I had no expectations on what the answer would be but I was confident that an answer would come.
The next day I was driving to San Francisco on business. As I got on 880 I began to preach myself a sermon. A verse that I had memorized as a child came into my mind and I spoke it… the verse was 2Cor 5:17 “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things have passed away and behold all things have become new.” I had memorized it from the King James Version in the fifties. As soon as I finished the words of the verse the sun got much brighter and a most amazing peace flooded my being. The anxiety was gone. None of the problems that had been the cause of the anxiety were gone. They were still there but now I had a peace that surpassed all understanding. I can honestly say that the peace has never left me since that day.
I immediately thought that I had received the answer and ran out to buy me a bible. I began to read it and as I would find passages that caused condemnation in my mind, a sweet soft voice would whisper ever so tenderly… read it all Joe. I would always have the sense that the meaning of this was that I did not yet see the big picture and was not interpreting it correctly. So, I continued to be obedient to the voice and I continued to read and read.
One morning shortly after the back porch prayer I was listening to Inez Andrews sing about the handwriting on the wall. As I sat there I opened the scripture. The place where it opened was Daniel Chapter nine. The first part of the passage that caught my eye at the top of the page was this… (Dan 9:21-23) “yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering. (22) And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, "O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. (23) At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision:” I knew that this was a special message to me. I did not then understand the total significance… that came much later. I was filled with the Holy Spirit and I focused on the words to Daniel, “you are greatly beloved.” I had the sense that Father was saying this directly to me. I knew that I was greatly beloved. It was only years later that with reflection I realized that this had been the answer to the back porch prayer. From the time I prayed a decree had gone forth to teach me truth.
Whether or not one believes in the possibility of current revelation, almost all believe in illumination from the Holy Spirit. I believe that this is what I received as an answer to my prayer. It was illumination of the scripture. Over the course of time, some twenty plus years now in all, I believe with all my being, that The Lord has answered my back porch prayer. The answer is the paradigm shift that is found in the many posts on this blog and hopefully will soon be put into a book.