Why??: Someone asked me this morning, “Why do you believe in God?”
This is the best answer I can give with God’s help.
I had no religious upbringing to speak of in my family. We went to church on Easter Sunday to wear our new suits and dresses. My Grand Parents listened to the Gospel radio station on Sundays. When I was taken to church by neighbors, on a few occasions outside of Easter, it was to a Protestant church. When they asked people to come forward and testify I always wondered why the spirit didn’t move me to do so. I wondered why God didn’t speak to me like He did to them. Once, neighbors took me and my sister to church and my parents were supposed to come pick us up. My Father got drunk and didn’t know, or forgot, so we walked home after everyone had left. It was several miles. To be fair, I think it was a miscommunication. I turned down several rides because I thought the parents were coming to get us. I had faith in them. I think we did finally catch a ride from some nice people who saw us walking by. I was around eight or nine at the time. I forgave my parents. I moved on and forgot about religion, the ride He provided, and the God who didn’t speak to me.
Around the age of fifteen, my friend (a little hellion in his own right, lol), took me to an LDS Church sponsored Scout meeting. I met missionaries and decided I wanted to investigate the Church. My Father agreed. I took the lessons and wanted to get baptized because it just felt right, for lack of a better expression. My Father said, “Hell no!” (Mostly because Baptist Preacher Bob told him if I did I was going to Hell, lol) I moved on and forgot about religion, the knowledge He provided, and the God who gave me a bigoted Father.
I did have a short interlude with several girls that wanted me to go to the First Baptist Church with them later lol. I was told that was the place to meet the good ones. But again, I moved on and forgot about religion, the good times He provided and a God who wouldn’t help me not be a dork and get a nice girlfriend.
Fast forward to the 60’s and after my return from Vietnam in 1969. I didn’t have much use for government, Christians, Tel-Evangelists, Revivals or any Religion. I began to feel like I needed to know about the subject in more depth though. I started studying all the latest 1960’s philosophical, religious and movement fads but nothing was ringing any bells. Finally I was back to God and Jesus. A former school friend who had become a 1960’s Jesus Freak told me one day that “God, loves you!” It rang true (for lack of a better phrase). I moved on and forgot about religion, being saved from injury or death in Vietnam, and a God who was so hard to talk to, even if he did love me.
Later, while I was reading about Edgar Cayce and his work, I got the notion that the true church, If it existed, was not on the Earth at that time. Around that time I also was reading the Old and New Testament a little. While reading the words of Jesus in red print, it again rang true. I felt that Jesus was who He said He was. I became excited about that and wanted to do something but didn’t know what. I felt that I didn’t have the authority or knowledge to do or say anything more than, “I believe!” I didn’t want to get hooked up with a bogus church either. I became depressed about the whole thing and finally prayed to God to lead me to the truth if He or it existed. I made the promise that if He would, I would do anything He wanted me to do. As usual, I moved on and forgot about religion, all the knowledge I had received, and a God who was so slow at answering prayers.
While I wasn’t paying attention, as usual, He did what I had asked Him to do. In April 1975, I reenlisted in the Marine Corps and went to California. I stayed drunk for awhile in my new “foreign legion“ environment. I actually considered the Legion until I read up on them. Either the Legion or mercenary work, would have been really dumb moves. On Christmas Eve 1975, drunk in a motel room, after I woke up on the ground under a tree, I met the Devil. Well, it was either him, or one of his minions. The angel of light told me, while maniacally laughing his ass off, “You are almost mine!” That, Scared the Hell out of me, literally. True story, believe it or not. That incident, I will never forget. I did however think it was time to get to know God whether it was hard or not.
After that, I went to the LDS Church with a Marine friend. It felt right, so I decided to investigate the Church again. I got my answer during one of the lessons and told the Missionaries that I wanted to be baptized. There was no one to stop me that time. True Story, Believe it or not. I apologized to God for not paying attention all those years and He forgave me because He knows how hard it is to be in this world. Since then He has blessed me with much knowledge and understanding as long as I am asking the right questions and paying attention.
The really hard part has been to keep the Promise I made when I was down at the bottom and praying for knowledge and help. God has not been a disappointment to me since. I have disappointed Him though on many occasions following that revelation. I know that I have also made Him very happy many times and I am thankful for those. I will endeavor to do better at learning what He wants me to do and get it done. He is a loving and patient Father. This I know without a doubt.
I also know He wanted me to write this on this morning for someone to read. I do not know who but that does not matter. If they are paying attention, they will get the message.
Gunny Barton, Ret.