“This is my story of how my friends at UCSD InterVarsity helped me see the signs of God in my life and begin my faith. I began going to church two years ago, and got off to a good start learning about Christianity. A few months passed without me feeling any real connection to God however, and I lost momentum, eventually giving up on religion altogether. Coming into college, I had already decided I didn’t need Christianity in my life…
By chance, I met Amy, an InterVarsity leader, in my third week. I contacted her—a complete stranger at the time— via Facebook to purchase a math book from her, and we met one afternoon to complete the transaction. Somehow, small polite conversation turned into a 3-hour chat about various things—school, classes, our backgrounds, and InterVarsity. She shared a great deal about herself and her journey to faith the past year. With her encouragement, I started going to IV’s large group. Hearing some of the speakers reignited a small spark in me again, but that spark quickly faded when I returned to my daily life.
The week before fall retreat, Amy met with me again, and talked about her experiences at retreat last year and invited me to sign up for this year’s retreat. Later when I debated whether or not to go, I remembered that Amy had been willing to share so much of her experiences. I could tell that she wanted me to go not just for the sake of getting more people to go, but because she thought it could have a positive impact on my life as it did to her. So I signed up, deciding I would give it one last chance.
Like most of us in the Jesus 101 track, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Through Friday and Saturday, I met several new people, had fun during free time, and learned a few lessons about God through the stories of the bleeding woman and lost son. Yet I felt I hadn’t changed at all: God still felt distant, and I was wondering if I should continue attending InterVarsity at all. After our Jesus 101 track ended Saturday, I asked an IV staff worker, Jonny, if I could talk with him in private. I told him about my situation, how I kept looking for signs of God in my life and not finding them, and that the lack of signs kept causing me to slip farther and farther away from Him. Johnny reiterated the parable of the lost son we had just discussed, and reminded me that I don’t necessarily have to seek signs from God, and that being in God’s presence is enough. He said in our pursuit of God, God also pursues us; that just as the prodigal son’s father saw his son from a far distance off and ran to him, God actively works in our lives and chases after us.
When he said this, I realized that God had indeed been chasing after me even as I was running as far away as I could in the opposite direction. I had tried to give up on religion so many times, yet He kept sending opportunities and people, most notably Amy, to point me back in the right direction. As Jonny closed our conversation with a short prayer, it hit me that there had been signs all along, and I just hadn’t seen them for what they were. As soon as the word ‘amen’ left our lips, I felt a strange feeling wash over me. I could hear each heartbeat loudly and clearly, and with each ‘thump, thump, thump’ I could feel something invisible expanding from within my heart and compressing back, like inflating a tire or balloon. I couldn’t see it, but I could feel the ‘bubble’ expand outside my body. It wasn’t painful, but I felt extremely heavy and uncomfortable, claustrophobic almost. That ethereal feeling stopped after a minute or two, but I believe that God had reached out and touched my heart that night.
For me, it was tangible, physical evidence that God truly did exist. No longer did I have to fight the voice of doubt in my head. I had committed and recommitted myself to follow God so many times, but always my rational side would pull me back. I feel so fortunate that God saw it fit to give me that push I desperately needed. Rather than having to take a leap of faith on my own, God gave me a shortcut in the form of evidence that satisfied my rational voice. I realize there is still so much I don’t know about God and Jesus, but at least He has eliminated the first and most difficult barrier for me so that I can move forward and finally begin my journey with Him. Whenever I might start doubting God again, I only have to remember that moment when He touched my heart to remind myself that he is real. Just knowing with utter certainty and conviction that God exists has been such a relief, and I have promised myself and God not to squander this precious gift and turn away from Him anymore.