I had never heard of an altar call before attending Promise Keepers. Nor had I ever had a man tell me, in a way that I could understand, that all my past behavior could be wiped out of God’s record book by simply believing in His Son, Jesus Christ.
It all sounded too simple. But in that moment, I realized that it was this very simplicity that made Christianity such a perfect plan. It is this same simplicity that causes so many others to reject it. Other religions reject it because they believe that an all-powerful god must certainly have a long list of requirements which each man and woman must fulfill before entering his kingdom. Certainly, that is the way of humans. The more powerful the man, the more difficult it becomes to stand in his presence.
To the man of science, it is this simplicity that makes any religion so easy to reject. A man who has spent a lifetime studying the vastness and mysteries of the universe cannot possibly accept that all of this can be reduced to a simple statement of faith. Again, it is the picture of a god in flowing robes and long white beard standing watch over a universe that is infinite that allows the scientist to cast it off as folklore.
Men of science and thought do not accept sky fairies, do they?
Here, I found on that night, is the difficulty of Christianity: you must allow a dim spark of faith to glow within the deep regions of your mind before any of it begins to make sense. At that point, you may begin to address the more difficult questions. Because now you can use your understanding of God to make sense of the universe instead of using your understanding of the universe to make sense of God.
The creation cannot explain the Creator.
I’ll circle back to that stumbling block later. It is, after all, a direct link to the title of this book.
For now, let me address the certain protests over my night of salvation. Yes, I sat in an audience of some twenty-thousand men, listening to some powerful and gifted speakers. Some would argue that, if the speakers had been selling the cure for the common cold, I would have walked out with a semi-truck load of the stuff.
It is true. Powerful speakers and the energy of a large crowd can influence men and women to do almost anything. We have Nazi Germany as proof of that claim.
The difference is this: powerful speakers have a time-limited impact on the hearer. As days pass, the message loses its power over us. Had I bought the cure for the common cold, I would have discovered it was nothing more than a hoax within a few days. Hitler’s message required a secret police and point of a gun to give it any longevity. But the message of Christ?
By Monday after the conference, I’d come down off my “high,” as do most people in that situation. The product of two days of preaching and singing was nothing larger than a tiny opening in my brain to accept the possibility that there may be something more than what science books books could disclose.
Now, I did say that I was changed when I left the conference on the first night. I assume that skeptics will write this off as the enthusiasm I felt after listening to those speakers. I have certainly felt invigorated after a rock concert or the latest Star Wars release. But none of these changed my behavior. Or my thoughts. A Zig Ziglar could fill me with the desire to be a better salesman and work hard, but I would have worked harder for a day or two before returning to my old habits.
That night at Promise Keepers, I stood and prayed for Jesus to enter into my heart and forgive me my sins. It really is that simple. Again, for many, too simple. The dome of the Silverdome didn’t open to allow golden rays of light to fall upon me and the other men gathered there. I had no vision of heaven. No lightning.
I would always describe it as a “switch.” It was as if a circuit in my brain had been flipped from one way of thinking to another. The desires and “needs” I possessed on Friday morning had disappeared and been replaced by others on Friday night. No, I did not go about with a Bible, waving it in the face of sinners. Nor did I insert God’s name into every conversation. In fact, only those closest to me would notice a change. My life had simplified. Before, I had many points of reference in my decision making, many of them in conflict with one another. Now I had one point of reference.
There is one word to describe what was going on inside me after Promise Keepers. It’s a state of being that few will ever possess.
After 30 years on this planet, for the first time, I truly felt at peace.