How Jehovah’s Witnesses Caused My Relationship with Jesus
Someone commented on my last post, remarking on the believability factor of the Bible, for which I’m grateful. It made me think back on my own journey to relationship with my Lord and Savior.
I wasn’t raised in the church, and honestly, I didn’t really give it much thought. At least not until I started dating a girl in high school who was a Jehovah’s Witness. Even then, I didn’t give it much thought because she didn’t seem to be all that into it and she never seemed to mind that I wasn’t religious.
Our world came crashing down, though–or so it seemed (everything feels like a Shakespearean tragedy when you’re 17)–when her father announced that we could no longer date because I was not a Jehovah’s Witness. This made me consider the “easy” way out: I would simply become a Jehovah’s Witness. Problem solved, right? Of course, I had no idea what this meant.
So I set out to learn more.
This plan caused probably the biggest series of arguments I ever had with my parents. I mean, what right did they have to tell me what I could or could not do when it came to religion since they were not religious themselves??
We finally reached a compromise that I could go to a Jehovah’s Witness meeting after I attended three services at “mainstream” Christian churches. This seemed reasonable, so I agreed.
One thing I had been told by the Jehovah’s Witnesses as they sought to bring me into the fold is that they are different from other churches because they believe Jesus is an angel, not that he is part of the triune God. In other words, they did not believe in the Trinity, whatever that meant.
So when I went to my first service at a “mainstream” Christian church, you’ll never guess what the topic of the sermon was.
I have to admit that the sermon’s explanation of the Trinity didn’t make a lot of sense, but it at least resonated with me enough that I thought it was worth exploring further. (And now, all these years later, on some days, there are still aspects of it that are hard to explain!)
Anyway, at the time of that sermon, I thought it was the strangest coincidence. But now, as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t believe in coincidences. I do believe, however, that God works in our lives even before we know who He is, and that the things He does are often beyond what we can understand. So that’s why we’ve invented human terms like coincidence and karma, to explain the unexplainable that only God understands.
I’ll spare you all the sordid details, but suffice it to say that this is the highlights version of my story of how the Jehovah’s Witnesses unintentionally led me to accepting Christ as Lord of my life.
The Need for Answers
What’s the point of all this?
Well, for one thing, I think it’s helpful for us to remember back to a time when none of the Biblical stories made sense to us. This may help us to relate in more meaningful ways and in “normal” language to those we encounter who don’t understand or believe any of it. It can also help us deepen our own faith if we challenge our own long-held understanding or assumptions about certain topics and then explore for better answers.
For another thing, there’s something that draws us humans into the search for answers. We all want and need to believe in something. Even those who claim to have no religious beliefs put their faith in science or some such thing (which is not to say that a belief in God and a belief in science have to be mutually exclusive).
Interestingly, as an example, I was recently talking with a good friend of mine who I thought was a life-long atheist. I asked him this about statements he had made previously indicating a posture of gratitude for the blessings in his life: “When you say you are grateful for your blessings, who are you grateful to?” (I know the grammar isn’t quite right there, but I always feel sort of snooty saying “whom”. I mean, who talks like that any more (or is it “whom”?)? He thought about it for a minute and said that he doesn’t really consider himself an atheist any more. He thinks about it like there’s a great spiritual force out there, which he usually refers to as “the universe”. I told him we call that great spiritual force “God”, but left it at that for now.
Anyway, to bring this thing in for a landing, I think it is God himself that plants in all of us the desire to search for answers, even though he knows he is the ultimate Answer to all our questions. He also gave us free will to decide for ourselves what we think the right answers are to life’s biggest questions. If he had done otherwise, if he had not given us free will but rather compelled us to believe in him, it would not be belief at all, but rather a mindless acceptance of a dictator’s demands. And this would be a terrible foundation for the loving relationship he desires to have with each of us.
So whether we recognize it or not, it’s a God-given blessing that we are allowed to believe he doesn’t exist. Isn’t that strange?
But that’s OK, it’s not important to God that his ways always make sense to us, as the Prophet Isaiah passed along in a quote from God:
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”Isaiah 55:9 (NIV)
So back to the “believability factor”, I wanted to mention that I’m planning to address some aspects of this in upcoming posts. My friends, if there are any unbelievable topics you’d like me to help unpack for you and with you, please leave a note in the comments.
In closing, I’ll share a poem I wrote that ponders the question of where we got the need for answers.
Whispers from God What rustles and stirs The core of your deepest self? The sun sinks beneath the western Edge of your world, Flinging golden rays heavenward As the sky remains undecisive: Azure, orange, red, violet? Emerald forest after rain glistens, Hailing its reunion with sunlight. The scent of a thousand layers Of decaying trees is somehow clean, Refreshing, inviting, soul-nourishing. A child is born, a new Tiny human completely Dependent on you to survive. Instantly you love your daughter, son, But they don’t love you, They don’t know you. Not yet. But they will In their own way, In a thousand moments to come. A stranger stops to help a new friend Change a flat tire in the snow. A stranger volunteers to feed new friends At a soup kitchen. A stranger puts an hour’s wage Into the hat of a new friend who is unable to Find work or a home So that person can live another day. Longings, whispers from God: For beauty, for deep inexplicable peace, For love and belonging, For life the way it’s meant to be. Who gave us these? The universe? Evolution? Who has set eternity in our hearts, If not the One who made us To be eternal? Copyright © 2021 by David K. Carpenter All rights reserved