When I was first diagnosed with cancer, and suddenly the real possibility of dying hit me, I suddenly started to think real hard about what happens next. Do I go to Heaven? Do I go to Hell? Do they even really exist? Was Jesus just a charlatan that convinced people he raised from the dead? What if another religion had it right? What if there is no God and we just cease existing?
I’ve always been into science, so many of the common theological themes in the Bible were explained away in my mind as metaphors. These same themes are derided and poked fun of by mainstream pop-culture and late night comedians, forming the fabric of my understanding of Christian ideals. Sure I went to Church as a child, and attended a few times during Christmas, etc. I knew the basics, and the few times I looked deeper I found many of the stories to be extremely difficult to believe.
Before my first big surgery I started going to church. Went with some friends, it was ok, and I kinda felt the connection with the people there, but it didn’t move me. My wife and I decided to try one of the other local churches, I liked the pastor a lot better. He wasn’t preachy, very down to Earth, and I felt a bit more of a connection. I listened, enjoyed the overall message of being a good person, but it still didn’t help me believe all this was real. I started doing a bit more research, but after my surgery I started chemo, and was a bit too miserable to explore too much.
Then I died.
It took them 6 shocks to bring me back to life. I was on ice for 4 days. I was on my third round of chemo. I was part of the very unlucky 1% to have a spasm in the heart from a component of the chemo. You could say I was also extremely unlucky in even getting cancer to begin with. No family history, I was only 35 years old, and I was in very good shape, ate healthy, etc. I was lucky though. I was part of the 6.2% to survive the cardiac arrest. At this point I am scared. I had only completed three rounds of chemo. I was stage 3C so had a high risk of re-occurrence. I did a ton of research and someone on a cancer forum directed me to a clinical trial for a vaccine that was highly effective in early trials for people who had completed adjudicative therapy. I contacted a doctor at Duke, flew there, but learned it was full and I got on a waiting list. I found another at the University of Michigan, but learned that one had a blind trial and I didn’t want to spend all that time and money to possibly get the placebo. I started emailing any and all doctors for trials that sounded similar. When I had just given up hope I was granted one of the last 8 slots at the University of Pittsburgh. I have been in remission for 1 year in two weeks from the time of this writing. I had no damage to my heart or organs, and am doing great!
Obviously, God had other plans for me.
During the time after my cardiac arrest, my impending thoughts of death had reached a new level. I NEEDED to figure out what I believed. I started reading books about people that had died like myself, but actually remembered it. I lost all my memory for a few weeks leading up to the event, and only have fragments of that memory now. I read books about ghosts, religions, etc, searching for answers.
I then came across a book that really changed my perception: How to Know God Exists by Ray Comfort – This book was a little lame in the first chapter or so, but after that, it really gets into the science. It talks about so many famous scientists and physicists that started out denying God, but later acknowledging that life could not be possible without him. This book set the foundation to my true belief. I would recommend anyone wanting to understand; start with this book!
The second book that made a big impact and set me on the path to Christianity is: A Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel – This book is written by an award winning investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune, who was also an atheist. He cross-examines a dozen experts with doctorates from schools like Cambridge, Princeton, and Brandeis who are recognized authorities in their own fields. Strobel challenges them with questions like, How reliable is the New Testament? Does evidence for Jesus exist outside the Bible? Is there any reason to believe the resurrection was an actual event?
These two books set the foundation of faith. First you have to believe that God truly exists. The first book really helps with that question. This second book helps answer the question of Jesus really existing. I’ve read countless other sites, commentaries, information disputing these claims, yet nothing I have read could debunk the events that happened. Like Lee Strobel, I kept finding more evidence it DID happen as opposed to it not happening. Once you truly believe that God exists, and that Jesus was the son of God, then suddenly your world is turned upside down. When you believe that the words of the Bible are in fact true, then it sets an entirely new reality. One that is scary, yet extremely comforting as well.
I began reading the Bible. I decided I was just going to read it cover to cover. I have been reading it for months, some nights a lot, some nights hardly any. I began jotting down my questions as I went, and created this website to try and find answers to share with others. I felt this could be my calling, since it was a skill I employed. I know there is more I need to do. I started listening to a podcast called The Bible Project – I can’t say enough good things about them. They also make short videos (which I have no watched yet), and eventually I plan to listen to Tim Mackie’s sermons as well. They don’t preach at you and are so easy to understand, you learn so much from them. I can honestly say they have helped reinforce my faith greatly.
These are the most notable, I will compile a list of everyone and everything I have found helpful eventually, but those are the standout stars I would recommend to anyone struggling to understand and believe. There is no more important decision in your life than this one.