A few years ago, I read online a remarkable testimony from a young woman who experienced an unexpected and dramatic conversion to Christ. Her name is Keri Smith. Back in 2017, twenty years after graduating from Duke, she began to question the worldview she had learned at the university and had unquestioningly appropriated as her own. As she began to see the flaws in her thinking, she began looking for another, more firm foundation for her life. That eventually led her to a place she never expected to find herself – following Jesus.
Keri has documented her journey on her Substack. She posted back in 2017 about her first thoughts that something was wrong with her worldview. You can read what she was thinking at the time, and about the “civility dinners” she began hosting here (language warning). Three years later, she wrote about giving up drinking. A few months later, she openly shared about her decision to follow Christ. I find her story moving and hopeful.
If you spend time on her Substack, you will likely run across posts with which you disagree. I do. That’s okay. She’s a relatively young sister in Christ, and some of her observations are good for me to think about, even if I don’t agree with all of them.
This week, Keri posted thoughts for seekers or skeptics titled How To Talk To God (For Those Who Don’t Believe But Might Like To). I thought her advice was worth passing along. Here is a portion of what she shared.
Just talk to him.
God knows you don’t believe. Or that you may want to believe but are having trouble. God knows you haven’t paid attention to him in a long time or maybe ever. God knows every deep, dark thought you’ve had, every time you’ve been uncharitable or unkind, every time you’ve chosen the path of evil over the path of good. And he still loves you.
God knows the ways you’ve constructed your identity to be around meaningless things, like a mask you wear, hiding your true self. God knows and loves who you really are; who he knew you to be before your parents were even born. Not these false constructs we build up based on our sex or race or sexuality or bad things that happened to us when we were kids, or bad things we’ve done and can’t get over, or good things we’ve done and taken so much pride in we built our sense of self around it. Your successes are not your identity. Your failures are not your identity. The abuse you suffered is not your identity. You are so much bigger. You are a soul – something eternal. A beloved child of God. Yearning for reunion with the creator and trying unsuccessfully to placate that soul yearning with human things of the world…
At the beginning of my own walk with God, I had squandered my inheritance from our Father. I had searched for meaning and pleasure and fulfillment and identity in worldly things, and it lead me, eventually, to the darkest place I have ever been. For some of us, we are very stubborn. We are the children who, when told not to touch a hot stove, must touch the hot stove for ourselves to learn why. We are the children of God who chased hedonism and drink and ideology and experience to the ends of the earth until we realized we’d somehow become a slave to all of this “freedom.” Some of us, like myself, can only see the Light when we arrive at the darkest place. I was a person who required the bit and the hook.
That’s how stubborn I was, how determined I was to look for meaning and peace everywhere but the one place I eventually found it: God. Asking God for help requires humility, which for some, can only be attained in the dark. It requires us to let go of the human arrogance of thinking we know and understand everything. It requires letting go of the sarcastic, worldly scoffer in our head who has been culturally raised to mock and shame any belief that we are more than just physical bodies and computer brains. It requires opening one’s mind enough to ask: “what if?”
Do you have any friends, family members or co-workers who are doubters or skeptics? Maybe think about sending them the link to Kari’s post, and encouraging them to start talking to God. Meanwhile, you pray for them. And let’s see what happens.
If you missed the start of the Women’s Bible Study this week, you can still join in for this spring.
Click here for more information about the study.
Guys, have you registered yet for the Men’s Fellowship breakfast this Saturday? Last call. That means register right now. Click this link and let us know you’re coming.
While our Roots Sudent Ministry is gearing up for the D-Now weekend the weekend of February 2, there are two ways for all of us to be a part of this important event for our students.
First, pray. Ask God to be at work in the lives of the students. Pray for Pastor Cole and the student ministry volunteers. Let’s bathe this event in prayer.
Second, the weekend wraps up on Sunday with a bake sale.
Are you a baker? Pastor Cole is looking for cookies, cakes, pies and other baked goods that we can sell to help raise money for our Street Reach summer missions trip. Contact Cole (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let him know if you can bring something we can sell on Sunday, February 4.
Tuesday night, February 6, our First Tuesday men’s group will meet for the Stepping Up study. I’ll bring the goulash at 6:15. The session starts at 7:00. Even if you’ve never attended one of these studies, you’re welcome to join us. In fact, you should plan on it!
And get ready for our Super Bowl weekend events.
First, it’s a night of fun for everyone. It’s Super Bowling!
We need to know if you’re planning to go bowling. Register by clicking here.
And on Sunday, we’ll all be bringing crock pots of soup or chili or gumbo or whatever sounds good to you for our annual all church Soup-er Bowl Sunday lunch.
Over the years, Curtis Thomas has taken dozens and dozens of people on a study through the book of Romans. Some of you have been through the Romans Study, and you’ve told me that it has been life changing.
Curtis is planning to start a new Romans class in early February. The plan is to meet on Sunday nights. It’s open to anyone who is interested.
Is that you? We’ll have sign up forms at church on Sunday. Or you can simply let Curtis know you’d like to be part of the class. Everyone is welcome.
With geo-political unrest all around the world, it’s a good time for us to pause and to consider the question raised by the Psalmist in Psalm 2. “Why do the nations rage?” as we press pause this week on our study of Revelation, Pastor Jeff Terrell from Ascend Church in Kansas City, who led our men’s retreat last year, will join us this Sunday to take us through Psalm 2.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!