Have you ever found yourself saying to yourself, “I hate my life”? How can a person experience real life change?
I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be the happiest person in the world. I also wanted to have meaning in life. I was looking for answers to questions like:
- “Who am I?”
- “Why am I here in the world?”
- “Where do I go?”
More than that, I also wanted to be free. I wanted to be the freest person in the world. Freedom for me was not just doing what I want to do – anyone can do it. For me, freedom meant having the power to do what you know you should do. Most people know what to do, but they don’t have the power to do it. So I started looking for answers.
Where can you find positive changes?
It seemed like almost everyone was involved in some kind of religion, so I did what was obvious and went to church. I must have chosen the wrong church, however, because it only made me feel worse. I went to church in the morning, afternoon and evening, but it was no use. I’m a very practical person, and when something doesn’t work, I drop it. So, I gave up religion.
I started to imagine what prestige the answer was. Being a leader, accepting some cause, dedicating myself to it, and being popular must resolve, I thought. At the university he was studying, student leaders had control and took advantage of it. So I ran for freshman class representative and was elected. It was amazing to be known by everyone, to make decisions and spend the university money to bring in the speakers I wanted. It was incredible, but it ran out like everything else I tried. I woke up Monday morning (usually with a big headache from the night before) and my attitude was, “Well, here comes another five days.” From Monday to Friday I survived. Happiness was about three nights a week – Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Then the vicious cycle started again.
Seeking life change, positive change
I suspect that few people in this country’s universities and colleges were more sincere about trying to find meaning, truth, and purpose in life than I am.
During that time I noticed a small group of people – eight students and two faculty members. There was something different about their lives. They seemed to know why they believed what they believed. They also seemed to know where they were going in life.
The people I started observing not only talked about love – they got involved. They seemed to be living beyond the circumstances of university life. While everyone seemed to be suffocating, he perceived a state of contentment and peace in them that was not moved by circumstances. It seemed that they had some kind of inner and constant source of joy. They had a disgusting happiness. There was something I didn’t have.
Like most students, when someone had something I didn’t have, I wanted it. So, I decided to make friends with these intriguing people. Two weeks after I made that decision, we were all sitting around the table at the student meeting – six students and two faculty members. And the conversation began to revolve around the subject of God.
Questioning about life change, positive change
They were bothering me, when I finally turned to one of the students, a very pretty girl (I used to think that all Christians were ugly), and I leaned back in my chair (I didn’t want others to think I was interested in her) and said “ tell me, what changed your life? Why are you so different from others on campus? ”
That young woman must have had a lot of conviction. She looked me straight in the eye and said two words that I never thought to hear as part of a solution at the university: “Jesus Christ”.
I said, “Oh, for God’s sake, don’t be silly to me. I’m already full of religion. I’m already full of church. I’m already full of the Bible. Don’t give me this nonsense about religion ”.
She replied, “Hey, I didn’t say religion, I said Jesus Christ.” She showed me something I had never stopped to think about before: Christianity is not a religion. Religion is when human beings try, by their own efforts, to reach God through good works; Christianity is God taking the initiative to come to men and women through Jesus Christ to offer them a relationship with Him.
There are probably more people in universities with misconceptions about Christianity than anywhere else. Some time ago I met an assistant professor who pointed out, at an undergraduate seminar, that “anyone who enters a church becomes a Christian”. I replied, “Does getting into a garage make you a car?” They told me that a Christian is someone who genuinely believes in Christ.
As I took Christianity into consideration, my new friends challenged me to examine Jesus’ life intellectually. I found that Buddha, Muhammad and Confucius never claimed to be God, but Jesus did. My friends told me to look at the evidence for Jesus’ divinity. They were convinced that Jesus was God in human form; who died on a cross for the sins of humanity; who was buried; resurrected three days later and was able to transform a person’s life today.
I thought this was a scam. In fact, I thought that most Christians were complete fools. I had met some like that. I used to wait for a Christian to get up to speak in the classroom so I could disagree with him and then I would detonate with him, and take the lead of the teacher. I imagined that if a Christian had a neuron, it would die of loneliness. It was all I knew.
But these people continually challenged me. Finally, I accepted the challenge. I put my pride aside and accepted to refute them, thinking that there were no facts. I assumed that there was no evidence that anyone could assess.
After many months of study, my mind came to the conclusion that Jesus Christ must be who he declared himself to be. This became a big problem for me. My mind told me that all of this was true, but my own will pulled me in the opposite direction.
I discovered that becoming a Christian was, in fact, ego-breaking. Jesus Christ made a direct challenge to my own will to trust Him. Let me paraphrase it: “Look! I have been at the door and I am continually knocking. If anyone hears me calling and opening the door, I will come in ” (Revelation 3:20). I didn’t care if Christ really walked on water or turned water into wine, I didn’t want any killjoys around. I couldn’t think of a faster way to ruin a good time. So here my mind was telling me that Christianity was true and I wanted to run.
More aware that I hate my life
Any time he was close to those enthusiastic Christians, the conflict started. If you’ve ever been around happy people when you find yourself miserable, you can understand how it can bother you. They were so happy and I was so miserable that I literally got up and ran out of their meetings. It got to the point where I went to bed at ten o’clock at night, and didn’t sleep until four in the morning. I knew I had to get it out of my head before I went crazy!
Finally my mind and heart connected on December 19, 1959, at 8:30 pm. During my second year at university, I became a Christian.
That night I prayed four things to establish a relationship with Jesus Christ that has since transformed my life. First I said, “Lord Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for me.” Second: “I confess those things in my life that you don’t like and I ask you to forgive me and clean me up”. Third: “In this moment, in the best way that I know how to do, I open the door of my life and trust you as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Change me from the inside out. It makes me the kind of person you raised me to be ”. The last thing I prayed was, “Thank you for coming into my life by faith.” It was not a faith based on ignorance but on historical evidence and the Word of God.
I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of religious people talking about their supernatural experiences. Well, after I prayed, nothing happened. Really nothing. And I have not yet created wings. In fact, after I made this decision, I felt worse. I literally felt like I was going to throw up. Oh no , I thought, what are you in for now? I really thought I had gone crazy (and I’m sure some people thought so!).
God and life change, positive change
But about six months to a year and a half later, I found out that I hadn’t gone crazy. My life has been changed. I was once in a debate with the head of the history department at Midwestern University, and I said that my life had been transformed. He interrupted me with “McDowell, are you trying to tell me that God really transformed your life in the middle of the 20th century? In what areas? ” After 45 minutes he said, “Okay, that’s enough.” Let me tell you a little bit about what I told him and that audience that day.
One area that God changed in me was restlessness. He always had to be busy. I walked around campus and my mind was like a whirlpool revolving around conflict. I sat and tried to study, but I couldn’t. A few months after I decided on Christ, a kind of peace of mind invaded me. Don’t get me wrong. I am not talking about the absence of conflict. What I found in this relationship with Jesus was not the absence of conflicts, but the ability to deal with them. I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world.
Another area that started to change was my bad temper. I used to explode if someone looked at me crooked. I still have the scars from when I almost killed a boy in my first year at university. My temper was so much a part of me that I didn’t even try to change it. I reached the critical point of losing control of my temper just to see if I had really lost control! Then I blew up only once in 14 years (and when I did this time, I regretted it for about six years!)
Positive change regarding feelings of hate
There is another area that I am not proud of. But I mention why many people also need the same change in their lives, and I found the reason for the transformation: a relationship with Jesus Christ. This area was hate. I had a lot of hate in my life. It was not something manifested outwardly, but it was a kind of creaking inside me. I was irritated with people, with things, with matters.
But I hated a man more than anything in the world: my father. I had a tremendous hatred for him. For me he was the city alcoholic. Everyone knew my dad was a drunk. My friends made jokes about my father staggering through the city center. They didn’t think it bothered me. I was like other people – laughing outside. But actually, I was crying inside. Sometimes I would go to the barn and find my mother so beaten that she could barely get up, lying on the manure behind the cows. When I had friends at home, I would take my father outside, tie him up in the barn and park the car near the warehouse. We told our friends that he had to leave. I don’t think anyone could have hated anyone more than I hated my father.
After I decided on Christ, He came into my life and His love was so strong that it took away the hate and turned it into love. I was able to look at my father with sincerity in his eyes and say “Dad, I love you.” And I really felt that. After a few things I did, it rocked him.
When I moved to a private university I was in a serious car accident. With my neck pulled, I was taken home. I will never forget my father entering my room. He asked me, “Son, how can you love a father like me?” I said, “Dad, I despised you six months ago.” So I shared with my father the conclusions I had reached about Christ: “Father, I let Jesus come into my life. I cannot fully explain it, but as a result of this relationship I have found the ability to love and accept not only you but also others as they are ”.
Forty-five minutes later, one of the biggest emotions of my life happened. Someone from my own family, someone who knew me so well that I couldn’t cheat, said to me, “Son, if God can do in my life what I saw Him do in yours, then I want to give Him the opportunity.” Right there, my father prayed with me and trusted Christ for the forgiveness of his sins.
Usually, the transformation happens after a few days, weeks, months or even a year. My father’s life was transformed right before my eyes. It was as if someone had reached out and turned on the light switch. I have never seen such a rapid change before or since. My father touched a whiskey only once after that day. He only brought it to his lips but did not drink. I came to a conclusion: a relationship with Jesus Christ changes lives.
Life change, positive change
You can laugh at Christianity. You can scoff and ridicule. But it works. It transforms lives. If you trust Christ, try to observe his attitudes and actions because Jesus Christ is in the life-changing business.
But Christianity is not something you can get down your throat with. All I can do is tell you what I learned. Then the decision is yours.
Perhaps the prayer I said can help you: “Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for me. Forgive me and clean me up. Right now I trust you as Savior and Lord. It turns me into the kind of person you raised me to be. In the name of Christ, Amen.