I had been a professing atheist for 9 years. Although we had been raised in the Methodist church no one ever spoke about a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. So, even in conservative Iowa State University it was easy to be challenged and decide God didn't exist.
I knew in my heart of hearts that if he did exist, I needed to be obedient to him and I wanted to do my own thing so much I ignored logic and the Lord. Worst thing was I always fell short of the standards I had set for myself. Drew lines in the sand and proceeded to step over them time and again. I was not wild by the world's standards but was not knowing the Lord at all.
This is a poem I wrote to explain my transition process:
ENCOUNTER WITH REALITY
I was walking in the mountains
Along a dusty, narrow road
Trying to get away from it all
I had been under quite a load
I guess work was tolerable
My love life was fine
I had some good close friends
Plenty of food and wine
Picked up that course I wanted
Had gotten off on astrology
Was into Women's Lib
And had passed geology
I finally weighed 122
Was making a lot of bread
Had a really great "old man"
But something was bothering my head
I stopped to look at the purple flowers
Paused at a crystal stream to drink
Was not sure where this was leading to
But knew I had to get away to think
My life seemed all together
It was really the best it could be
But I felt all tied up and restless
And was really itching to be free
Ok, now, wait a minute
Let me think and rearrange
What would I do differently
If I could have a magic change?
He and I would be in the woods
In a small A-frame cabin there
We'd have a dog and cats all around
And a garden...that was fair...
But every time I dreamed them up.
These dreams I liked to hoard.
I knew that in a couple of months
I'd be searching, restless and bored
Is that really all there is to life?
There must be something more
If I have everything I need and want
Then what's this emptiness for?
I scuffed my toe on a rock as I wandered on
And looked up in time to see
A ragged young man, with a sore on his hand
Coming down the path towards me
Normally, I'd have been a little scared
But this guy was about my size
He smiled at me with the friendliest smile
But what really drew me were his eyes
It is hard to tell you much about them
They were the warmest hue
I know this doesn't make much sense
But they seemed ancient, yet sparkling new
He was dressed in a shirt tied round with a rope
Looked kind of like a blanket to me
With broken down sandals and dusty pants
I'd guess he was about 33
He nodded at me as he came close
"Out for a walk today?"
I told him I was doin' some thinking
And continued along my way
Somehow I knew he was still there
And I started to get a little huffy
This was supposed to be a solo walk
I was warmed by his voice, but still feeling stuffy
Before I could think up an excuse
He turned and caught up with me
"Do you feel all bound up and trapped
Like you're never going to get free?"
I stopped short and looked at him
And I felt Like blurting out "What's your scam?"
But something about him stopped me short
And I surprised myself with "I suppose I am"
I felt my stomach tied in knots
I'd been trying to keep this inside
With annoyance and exasperation I thought
Well, what have I got to hide?
We stopped for a moment and he gazed at me
"You know, there is a way"
I got all fired up and ready to reply
Then I forgot what I was about to say
I began to get really uptight
Words usually came easy for me
"I've tried a bunch of ways before
And none of them set me free."
My gift of gab returned with a smile
Thought I'd get a chance to burn his ear
"I've tried dope and wine, people and places,
The US and Canada in my camping gear."
"I've been into clothes and nursing
To school and worked, been both far and near
Into astrology, psychology, biology, hey,
I'm no kid, I'm 27, I was even married for a year."
He stood there so patiently
Apparently waiting for me to go on
So, "I got divorced and dated a lot
And now I'm living with Tom..."
And he still stood there
Seeming so gentle and calm
I almost felt like a bulldozer
As I shifted gears and plowed on
"I've been 5 years in college
Got my AA degree
Have worked here and there
Whatever suited me...
Have been a volunteer
Given of my hours
Have walked in thunder
And played in showers...
Have loved a few people
Grown up a lot
Did meditation for awhile
And then a little pot...
Really like wine coolers
And outdoor mountain streams
Am fair at writing letters
Have written poetry by the reams..."
I paused for a moment
With it all passing in review
"I've done all I wanted
There isn't much that's new"
By this time I sat down
Feeling emptier inside
"I've done so much junk
There isn't much I haven't tried."
He picked up a rock beside me
And sat down, not too near
"Have you ever given much thought
As to why we're all here?"
Mentally I clicked off
That answer too
I had it all together, at least
I thought I did, before I met you...
"I guess I believe in superior life
And all that stuff about outer space
How they came here to teach us
And looked like gods to the human race"
"What about the Bible
How does that fit in?
How about Adam and Eve
And their original sin?"
Now you've really done it girl,
You've run into a religious kook
One who still believes in god
And that ancient "holy book"
I thought about telling him off
But before I could think what to say
I glanced back into his face
His eyes clouded and looked far away
"Marijo, I knew you then
And I know you still
It was there I bled and died for you
Up on Calvary Hill"
I sat there with my mouth open
I never told him my name
I grew suddenly very quiet
This wasn't any game
I glanced at his raw hands
No, this couldn't be
I don't even believe in god
Let alone crucifixion on a tree
But something about his manner
Made me sit quite still
As I did I could almost see him
On that cross upon that hill
I looked into those soft brown eyes
My thoughts raced on and on
My life had been so empty
Could this really be god's only son?
Hey, come on, You're too smart for that
You don't really believe...
Wait a minute, shut up
The emptiness seemed relieved
The voice inside went on to say
Hey, you've dabbled in religions before
And when the novelty was over they've let you down
And have flown right out the door.
But I've never considered Jesus
And that the Bible might be true
"If you are who you say you are,
Then tell me what to do"
Suddenly I felt old and small
Even with new sweatshirt and pants
"If you are who you say you are,
Then please give me a chance?"
"There's so many things I've done
That I'm not proud of
I really goofed off and messed up a lot
And I actually don't deserve your love"
Inside me rang I'm sorry
But what was there to say
I looked at him, my tears running down
"Can you forgive me and show me the way?"
With a loving, forgiving smile he stood there
All white-robed radiant to see
"At last my child, this is your day
You now are truly free!"
"Jesus, Jesus you ARE real
And more alive than anyone could be!"
As he lifted heavenward he said
"Marijo, follow, follow ME!!"
I didn't actually meet a person on that mountain top but the Lord started dealing with me that weekend and my thought processes are like those recorded here. It was actually a matter of months before I realized God's forgiveness and salvation plan for me but I am here to say that the man-God
I finally met is even more real than the one portrayed! PRAISE JESUS!
(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits
Saved by His grace in 1974, from 9 years of professing atheism into His loving arms. RN for 23 years, missionary with YWAM then statistical analyst for Every Home for Christ over 9 years. Living with my husband in the middle of a mountain meadow. GRIN! Wanting to spread the good news