The past many years I’ve traveled across the country, speaking to groups of all sizes about health care reform. Now that I have passed age 65 , it’s a great feeling to have a purpose and to be used for something constructive and important. It’s hard to imagine how different it would have been if I kept thinking the way I did in 1965, just after high school.
After graduating from high school, I was an agnostic. An agnostic is someone who doesn’t know what they believe about God but does know he or she prefers life without someone imposing rules on them. The agnostic lack the courage (or foolishness) to be an atheist, just in case there really is a God. Besides, I knew that being an atheist was a sure way to quit being invited to family gatherings.
Agnosticism worked well for me until Rosanne, my wife, wanted to find a comfortable religion. She started studying with leaders from a group most would label a sect, and I dusted off the Bible Grandma Racer gave us as a wedding present, ready to defend the traditional denominational Christianity she and I had learned as young people. This got us into the Bible and after some time, the group gave up on Rosanne.
I grew up with “Christian” rules; of “thou shalt not.” I saw them as church rules, and they had no appeal to me.
In 1971 we returned to St. Paul from my Air Force tour of duty, and began singing in the church choir in the same church with all the “rules.” I didn’t care, I just wanted to sing in the choir. Rosanne and I had met in the high school choir, so we both enjoyed getting back into music performance.
One February 1972 evening, the choir director’s wife asked Rosanne how she liked our church. “I’m looking for a religion where I can be comfortable,” Rosanne said.
The next day, the woman explained to Rosanne how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Rosanne had never heard this before, though she grew up in a well-respected church. She prayed to receive Christ. I knew my time had come, too.
God had stirred my heart many times through the sermons of Bible-preaching pastors. But, those Christian rules always remained a stumbling block.
One night in February 1992, I finally came to understand and accept this simple truth. You know the song. “Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so.” It’s not about rules, it’s about a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
My head knowledge moved to my heart. I asked Christ to fill me with Himself. I knew He lived within me. My life changed forever.
This became my life’s verse: “Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 2:5.
Now God uses Rosanne and me as parents, friends, mentors, in music, and in speaking all across the country with a role in affecting public policy. I am in this place because He opened the doors and directed my path.
I learned life is not about trying to keep rules. I learned true life is about Jesus’ gift of real life, His love, and how His sacrifice made it possible for me to move and serve.