Thursday, July 30, 2009

Why Does God Allow . . . (Part 4)

Continued from Tuesday . . .

Hindsight helped me to see the Sovereignty of God over my life - even prior to conversion. WOW!

I was born and raised in the Australian outback in a “secular humanist” environment. Though my parents weren’t Christian I was fortunate enough to grow up in a stable home where my basic needs were always provided for. I can vividly remember at an early age sitting outside gazing at the stars and weighing up the possibilities of the great cosmic equation. Was it all random chance, or was there a plan going on. It was obvious to me that I could see design in everything and there must have been Someone in charge of all this. I was also troubled by the reality that I had an accute sense of justice and injustice - where did that come from? Furthermore, though I had an inherent morality, my constant cravings were to violate that morality. Years later the first two chapters of Romans would bring to light my youthful ponderings.

My first Christian influence was at the age of eight. Phillip was my next door neighbour and six years older than me. I was always in awe of Phillip who was small in stature but a bold and fervent witness of his faith. Since my father was quite passive about my associations, I spent a lot of time listening to Phillip as he told me about topics ranging from the six day literal creation right through to his version of end time events that lay ahead. I really believed what he told me but was too afraid to “go public” about this. Nonetheless I hid much of what he told me in my heart and devoured the steady diet of Chick comics that he sent my way. For the rest of my adolescent years or so I thought of myself as a bit of a “stealth” Christian, holding some form of faith in Christ but hoping to slip through society undetected.

I joined the Royal Australian Air Force as a 17 year old in 1987, still flying under the radar. One day in the spring of 1989 I had something similar to a “woman at the well” experience (except for the woman part). I went to visit a friend of mine to pick him up for a game of rugby league we were playing in. But my friend had been posted out without me knowing and a stranger was sitting in the dormitory instead. This stranger just looked at me and launched into some of the most piercing and personal questions I had ever received. It was like he had known me all my life and could discern my secret thoughts. It was both frightening and convicting. I never saw that stranger again but walked out of his room that day certain that if I denied Jesus Christ before men then He would deny me before the Father.

I soon found a Charismatic church nearby and started attending. Everyone who attended seemed so holy and sanctified. I was petrified at the thought of anyone finding out that they had been infiltrated by a hypocritical Christian. I squirmed at altar calls for three weeks, my heart pounding so hard that I thought I might die. I now know that responding to an altar call is not the be all and end all of becoming a Christian but it was a necessary thing for me to do in order to deal with my personal pride. I can distinctly remember the visiting South African evangelist calling for the “lost” to come forward and me walking out lest I die. The strange thing that happened that night in October of 1989 was that my fear and shame was replaced with a boldness to declare my faith in Christ. It was like my old next door neighbour Phillip had passed me the baton of his boldness. My witnessing for the following years of my life was tried in the hostile fires of a military workplace where I suffered some intense persecution for my faith (the rest of the persecution was for my own overzealous stupidity).

I left the Air Force after ten years service in 1997 and was able to indulge my dream of attending a bible college full time. I treasured every class and loved the cut and thrust of lectures which often became forums for my many questions. During this time I spent many hours exploring systematic theology books which I had never heard about before. Whilst reading Wayne Grudem’s book on the subject I had an experience where the light of a Holy God drew near. The closer it came the more I realised how deeply sinful I really was. I had only ever given token acknowledgement to my sin in the past. But now there was deep conviction, then repentance, and then a profound sense of wonderment about the cross of Jesus Christ. It was so liberating to be set free from my pathetic fa├žade of righteousness and let God be glorified in my weakness. I now understood Jesus words in Luke 7:47 "Therefore I say to you, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, he loves little."

In the true light of who we are as exceedingly sinful beings, and the infinite Holiness of an Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Eternal God it is important to be people who ask the right questions.

Why does God allow me to live another day considering my sins against Him? Because He domonstrated His great love by dying for me (in my place) while I was a terrible sinner (Romans 5:8). Isn't that enough good news to run the race and finish the course?

I am now deeply passionate about sharing the gospel with anyone who has ears to hear.
So thanks for listening!

Go Back To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

1 comment:

The Johansen Family said...

Hi Mr. Buettel, my name is Mike and I am 13 years old. I read your testimony and liked it alot ~ it really inspired me thanks for sharing!!!!!!!!!!

Your brother in Christ,
Mike Johansen