An important aspect of spiritual growth is gaining new insight about God's plan. While discussing spiritual matters with my brother in Connecticut, he sprang a new objection on me shrugging off my faith in Christ as being a regional cultural thing due to living in the "Bible Belt." Did I become a Christian just because I lived in Texas? I dismissed the idea immediately but knew I'd have to give it some thought to help him see this was not the case.
My conversion to Christianity had more to do with being receptive to the message of Christ than being exposed to evangelical Christians. I didn't have any friends who talked to me about Christ. My wife Teresa and I discussed Jesus but she was not active in church nor did she even speak to me about going. My father-in-law also spoke to me about Christ but these few discussions focused on Bible prophecy and God's plan for salvation never came up. He gave me a couple books on Bible prophecy which I started out reading just to humor him but my becoming interested was the Lord's work which led to my wanting to learn more about Him.
All the friends I had prior to my becoming a Christian were non-believers. We never talked about spiritual matters. I did meet a girl who invited me to church. But the Sunday School lesson was on friendship evangelism so it occurred to me this girl was only dating to proselytize. I never saw her again because I wasn't yet ready to receive the truth. It wasn't in the timing God had planned for me.
I was raised by loving Christian parents but this didn't mean I had their faith nor did it keep me from being lonely. I grew up admiring popular guys who always had a lot of friends. I attributed the large following of friends to their being natural leaders. I knew leadership could be learned which was no-doubt one of the reasons I became an Army officer.
I figured that another cure for loneliness would be to get married. I thought the Army life should help me attract a wife. What woman wouldn't want the exciting life as an Army officer's wife? Well reality never lives up to the fantasy. There is an old Army adage, "If the Army wanted you to have a wife, they'd have issued you one." This always invoked a chuckle but was very true. Assignments usually worked against marriages resulting in high divorce rates.
I left the Army when my obligation was up to pursue a career more conducive to married life. I pinned all my hope of overcoming loneliness on getting married. It wasn't as if I didn't have any friends, friendship wasn't enough. I wanted a level of intimacy which I thought was only possible with a wife. I had closer friends in the Army than I ever had before. There is something about the comaraderie of working together to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness from the onslaught of an evil empire which makes for closer friendships. (The Army just hasn't been the same since the Cold War.)
I joined a large, stable company that would make me more attractive to a potential mate then set out in pursuit of Miss Goodbar. All my leisure activities were chosen to put me in touch with single women who met my criteria. I also tried a video dating club and placed personal ads as part of my quest. I can even recall praying for a wife figuring it couldn't hurt. I never really questioned the existence of God, I just thought that it wasn't possible to have a relationship with Him in this life.
Even though I didn't recognize it at the time, God did answer my prayer and brought Teresa into my life. Teresa even met most of my criteria. I always had as great a level of intimacy with her as any two people can have. But I learned that marriage was not the cure for loneliness. I came to this conclusion after three years of marriage, about the time that infatuation wears off and true love needs to take over. I now know the distinction of Christian love the world's view of love which will ultimately fail.
Most divorces take place after three to five years of marriage. We might have been part of that statistic if God had not intervened turning me to Christ. Looking back on it, I now realize I needed to be brought to this point in my life before I'd be receptive to the good news about Jesus Christ. I needed to discover first hand that marriage wasn't the cure for my loneliness.
I realized my need for Christ and yielded myself to Him as I discussed Bible prophecy with Teresa before dinner one evening. I didn't even acknowledge it at the time because I was embarrassed about maintaining a ruse that I was already a Christian. I didn't know much about Christ at that point but I suddenly had a hunger to learn about Him.
Christ filled the loneliness void I had in my life. Ever since that evening at the dining table I've never felt lonely. I have found the "friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24). God taught me what true "agape" love is all about. It is not about adoring others so they will adore you back (the selfish world view of love). It is about making sacrifices for the glory of God. Jesus Christ epitomized this godly form of love through His voluntary, sacrificial death on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven. I now grow more in love with Teresa every day as a by-product of my relationship with Jesus.
God more than cured me of loneliness, He gave me eternal life. I can't imagine life without Him. I'm certain that eternal loneliness would be the worse part of hell if Christ had not intervened on my behalf. Has God prepared you to be receptive to His free gift of eternal life? If He has, don't put off your decision to follow Christ another minute. "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2).
For more about Scott's turning to Jesus Christ for salvation, see his personal testimony.