My dad: From nothing to everything

A few of you have heard this, although I haven’t told it very often. It’s about something that happened in 1973. I was recently encouraged to tell it, and after thinking about it, I think he’s right. Many people don’t know things like this happen. At the time, neither did I, but I’m hearing it more and more now. Although I myself am fairly unremarkable, my story is, so I hope this encourages others.
I grew up as the son and grandson of pentecostal preachers. We read the Bible as a family in the evening, taking turns. 3 chapters in the Old Testament, 2 in the New.  I memorised verses for Sunday school. Whenever there was a Sunday school contest, I won. I also grew up going to public school learning the standard evolutionary teaching as if it were true. It was during the 60s, when everything prior to that time was being contested. I didn’t believe the Bible. I believed in evolution. I believed that everything had happened by accident, without a purpose. One day my biology teacher said that spontaneous generation had never been demonstrated, even though all kinds of effort had been put into trying to recreate the conditions where life began. This shocked me. I’d always assumed spontaneous generation occurred routinely. As a result of this revelation, I stopped believing in anything at all. I was 12. Aside from school, I spent my time reading Science fiction and listening to the Beatles. I was drawn to that whole mind expansion / eastern religion fad. By the time I was 16, I was intent on using LSD. That was also the year that Kung Fu was on television. I started skipping classes with a couple of friends and dropping acid and go rock climbing and running down hills. We did crazy stuff, but we were convinced we would never get hurt if we just ‘went with the flow.’
One night I was in the park with 3 friends smoking pot, listening to our friend Wayne tell us (as he had many times) about how ‘everything was nothing’. He was always obsessing about this, writing poetry even. What it amounted to was this: We were taught that everything started with the big bang, everything was an accident and eventually everything would die out. Even the stars. Nothing had any meaning, nothing mattered. But this time, Jude jumped up screaming with Haze chasing after him, and I was hit with the feeling that I’d discovered the ‘secret of the universe’. It was very Zen-like. The answer was, there was no answer and the joke was on us for looking for one. I felt a profound sense of emptiness that had a religious intensity. In fact, it was my religion. No purpose, no meaning. Everything was nothing.

"Kill someone if you mean business."

This soon became profoundly boring. Then I started hearing about satanists and demonic powers. I didn’t believe in the devil any more than I believed in God, but I decided to become a satanist. Now, I wasn’t involved in any group and all I knew was a little I’d read, but I started praying to satan. I made it into a kind of ritual where I’d go off and draw a pentagram and pray to the devil. Then one day a voice said to me, “Kill someone if you mean business.” I was actually a pacifist. Killing was far from my mind. I said: “Who’s ever done anything that I should kill them for?”

The voice immediately replied “Kill a kid. Innocent is better”. In an instant I realised that there really was a devil, and that there had to be a God who was stronger and good, because the voice I’d heard would have destroyed everything if something wasn’t standing in his way.

I was overwhelmed with fear and began asking God to not let the devil take me over. I even tried praying the sinner’s prayer, but nothing happened. Nights became terrifying.

I ended up in a drug program run by Christians. One Saturday evening we were in mandatory Bible study and I was just waiting for it to be over with. The leader mentioned my name and I looked up. I saw light coming out of his eyes! I’m not talking about a glimmer or a glow. It looked like he was a cardboard cutout of a photo and there was a bright light source behind him that poured through where the eyes had been removed. I looked around the room and the christians had light pouring out of their eyes! I was immediately seized with conviction. All kinds of thoughts raced through my head. “This can’t be happening.” “The Bible can’t be true.” “I can’t be a christian, I pray to the devil.” “I don’t want to be like christians.” Then it was over and it was time for everyone to go to bed.

"I can't be a christian, I pray to the devil."

But I couldn’t sleep. I laid in bed for about 15 minutes and I thought, “I have to get saved NOW!”

I went into the living room. All the lights were out by now except one on a table. The leader of the place was sitting in a chair next to the table with his Bible. He asked me what I was doing up. I said, “I have to talk.” He pulled up a footstool for me to sit on and said, “What do you want to talk about?”

I just started crying. Suddenly I was floating in space. There were no stars, no planets, no interstellar gasses. There was nothing. Then I heard a voice say, “Wide is the path that leads to destruction”.

And there I was, floating in infinity. Then I turned and saw a beam of light. It was about 2 feet in diameter and brilliant white. I thought every ray of light in the universe was compressed into that one beam. It didn’t spread like ordinary light, it was like a laser, but it was white. Then the voice said: “Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way that leads to life eternal. And few there be that find it.” And I floated into the beam and it shot through me. I recognised it was Jesus. I felt the fruits of the Spirit. My head flooded with all the Bible verses I’d memorised since I was a kid and all I could say was: “Of course, of course.” Then I heard a voice behind me saying, “Dennis got saved!” and I was back in the room. There were about 10 people behind me praying. I was the last one anyone expected to see get saved. The most profound thing after that was the peace I felt. I’d been fighting the Creator of the Universe all my life, and now I wasn’t. I didn’t know peace like that existed.