In 1968-69, with a new M.S. degree in botany, I signed on with a sub-contractor for NASA on the Apollo Eleven Mission in its quest to determine whether there was life on the moon; whether lunar “soil” could support life; and how to grow food plants on the International space station. Aside from the excitement of the subject matter, the stress of 84 hour work weeks under the watchful eyes of Washington, the military and the rest of the world the job took a toll on my mind, body and soul until I needed to shut down. It ended in a search for God. This is my testimony as to how I searched for him, and the miracles through which he proved himself to me. When he did, my life’s path took an abrupt turn. I have now been a pastor-teacher, Bible scholar, Christian counselor and author for nearly 50 years.
HOW I FOUND GOD, THE BENEVOLENT CREATOR, IN JESUS CHRIST
I did not follow Christianity because it was all I knew. My family were not Believers. I had not had enough exposure to Christianity as a young person to have any idea what its doctrines were. I chose Christianity at the age of 26 (I am now 76) having asked the hypothetical God to prove to me, as a scientist, whether he existed; whether he was benevolent and chose to be active in the day-to-day lives of those who would worship him; and if so, which one of the religions, including which stream, Catholic or Protestant if Christianity represented him.
I have a Master’s degree in science. My primary areas were in biology, botany and microbiology, but chemistry, both organic and inorganic, zoology, physics, geology, paleontology and meteorology are all part of my background. My first position out of graduate school in 1968 was with NASA, working on the Apollo Eleven project in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory of the Manned Spacecraft Center near Houston. I was part of the team which developed the techniques to grow germ-free food plants on the International Space Station, and to determine whether lunar “soil” (fine, black pulverized moon rock) held life, or could sustain life without added nutrients (no, and no).
After the conclusion of my work there, I suffered a drastic health crisis and became totally incapacitated for being able to perform any gainful employment. Then 25, I had no more than minimal savings, I was making payments on a new car, I had no family and was living in a community where I knew absolutely no one. I used my sparce savings very quickly and could no longer pay rent. The U.S. had no social service programs which could have helped me. Unemployment compensation was available, but only for people who were employable, i.e. healthy. My bank account had reached a balance of zero, and I had $12 left in cash. I had read parts of the Bible and was familiar with the concept of a Creator God, who made man in his own image, who loves mankind, and to whom nothing is impossible. I decided to investigate as a scientist, whether or not there was a God - benevolent - and if so, which one.
I assumed from the outset that if he was real, benevolent and omnipotent, he could solve my problems without any input from me aside from telling him what I needed. I could speak to him in my own language, he would hear, respond and speak back to me, and I would “hear” him.
I had enough education and intelligence to eliminate some gods at the outset, as to which was the Real Creator. Of course, if he was benevolent he could not be any of the vengeful gods of superstition, nor could he be the Jihadistic god of Muhammad, who forced people to worship him for fear of being beheaded during the 7th - 12th centuries. He also could not possibly be one of the gods with the head of an elephant or other animal, or with 14 arms, nor could he be a god who shape-shifted between the forms of an eagle or bear. No True benevolent God would create his most loved being to be represented with an appearance that man could see only as bizarre compared to himself. This logic also eliminated God as being represented as a grossly obese man with immensely huge earlobes. These logical premises as a scientist eliminated all forms of Shamanisn, Islam, Buddhism and all the gods of Hinduism. It also eliminated every tiny cult endemic to isolated regions. The real God, if benevolent, would have made himself known to people all over the world in order to bestow the blessings of knowing Him on as many as he could.
There was only one more basic premise in determining which god, if any, was THE God. He had to be able to do miracles: he had to be willing and able to change the course of nature and overturn all odds against events happening. Logic alone had eliminated ALL RELIGIONS except Christianity, as rooted in Judaism. The only question to be determined if God as presented in Christianity was GOD, then would the route to Him be through some Protestant theology or some Orthodox theology? I did see the essential difference between papist and non papist doctrine. Protestants believed every single person can go directly to God. Non-Protestants believed you had to have a priest between a person and God.
Thus, in 1969, assessing my situation, I found myself destitute, unemployably ill, friendless, alone in the world with no way to pay for food or lodging. All I had was a car about to be foreclosed upon because the bank which held the lien was aware I had by then been unemployed for nearly three months, and was gravely ill. I was no longer able to make payments. This then, was the first prayer I ever uttered, in 1969:
“God, I don’t know whether or not you are real, but if you are, I need help and I am willing to listen. There are five things I must have in order to survive. If you intervene and provide them I will follow you for the rest of my life”. I said “God”, but inwardly I knew I was speaking to the God of Jesus Christ. I did not, at the time, have the slightest idea what Jesus had to do with Christianity, but I knew it revolved around Him, and that if God answered my prayer He would resolve the questions about what “following Him” meant. These are the needs I laid out as I spoke conversationally to “God”, being willing to trust that if He IS, he would take care of them.
- I needed a friend, someone I could trust who cared about me so I would not be standing alone. Someone who genuinely loved me.
- I needed a home base, a telephone and mailing address.
- I needed instant cash. I was not only unemployed, but also not close enough to being well to apply for unemployment compensation.
- I needed a roof over my head, a place to sleep and regular meals.
- I need to stop the foreclosure of my auto lien. I still had two years of payments due, no credit, no co-signer and no income, but I could not possibly regain a life without transportation.
There was no human way possible to meet any of these needs. The statistical probability of any of them simply “happening”, was null, given that I knew no one. While working for NASA the immense pressure and schedule, working seven days a week 12 hours a day, I had met my neighbor only once. The only people in the county I knew well enough to call by name were doctors and nurses at the hospital where I had been a patient for six weeks. Scientifically, the probability of five unsolvable problems being resolved all at the same time would have been an imaginary number - null multiplied by an identity of five. As a scientist I was in dead-earnest. My hypothesis was simply that if in a very short time span all five of my needs were met, the causal factor would have been the divine, purposeful intervention against nature, a caring omnipotent God moving, changing people and circumstances because He loved me, and in answer to my prayer with the attached promise of following him. It would mean five miracles, as a Biblical miracle is identified. What would such a God look like? Like us, like Jesus. Humans, if intelligent, would not trust in a god represented by a being inferior to us.
I slept hard after a tearful night. In the morning I felt impressed to go to a specific supermarket to spend my last $12 on food. After so much stress and anguish, while in the checkout line I suffered an emotional meltdown. I suddenly started to sob like a child. The startled woman ahead of me turned around and looked at my face. It was the one person in the county I “knew” better than anyone else. My personal nurse. There had been many nurses, but I never knew the names of the anonymous ones changing shifts in the night. MY nurse was personal, Jan, there for me Monday through Friday for six weeks. She put her arms around me and said “Come home with me”. Miracle #1. Starting out, we talked briefly. She did not ask me what I needed, she told me. She gave me a home base, Miracle #2.
On the way, we stopped at my rented room, and I picked up mail from my bank, forwarded from my former address. I was not going to open the bank statement knowing the account balance was zero, but I did anyway. I was dumbfounded. A deposit was been made the previous week for $400. I didn’t make it. I knew it was a bank error. I knew I would have to pay it back, but it was instant cash. Miracle #3. (It lasted until I was able to collect unemployment compensation.) I met Jan’s husband, Bill, and we talked for two hours, becoming instant friends. We both had master’s degrees in biological sciences and shared the same hobby. The next day, Sunday, Jan took me to church with her. It was a Protestant church which strongly teaches that God loves humans so much, he made himself into a human person while he was still the Divine Person, so people could see and understand what he is really like, by being born human, through a virgin conception. This was prophesied by the Prophet Isaiah. They also believed as the Bible teaches , that Jesus proved who He is by continually working miracles of healing, deliverance and comfort. Finally, they also affirmed that the same Holy Spirit who worked through Jesus to work miracles, also is given to every Believer today who is faithful to Him, both to have personal access to God and even do miracles, in Jesus’ name - with spiritual authority delegated by Jesus Himself. (This was the whole premise of first century Christianity; it grew exponentially rapidly because all His Believers DID do miracles. Many Christian denominations have grown cold and many have fallen away from this truth and expectation, but it is part of the milieu of genuine faith in Jesus Christ.)
Later that day Jan and Bill talked it over, and invited me to live with them permanently, as long as I needed to get on my feet, free, part of the family. I was a few years older than their oldest child. A home, Miracle #4. The next day was Monday; banks were open. With only the abstract thought “I have to secure my car loan” I drove aimlessly. Suddenly these words were forced into my consciousness “TURN IN HERE”. It was a gravel driveway into a lot with a construction trailer. I did, and saw the sign “BANK UNDER CONSTRUCTION OPEN NOW” I parked and went in. On the left was the loan officer, who was busy at his desk with a customer. On the right was a waiting room where a man was reading a newspaper. I sat down with him, he looked up and we began to chat. The news headlines were “APOLLO ELEVEN SPLASHDOWN” and “LUNAR SCIENCE” etc. He asked my name, who was I, what did I do etc. and I pointed to the headlines. At the time, it had just been a job. I had no realization then, that Apollo Eleven symbolized the most important scientific research of the 20th century, and the eyes of the entire world were on the Lunar Receiving Laboratory. On the opposite side of the wall of my research station has been the Astronaut Reception Area, the dormitory of bedrooms where they were kept in germ-free isolation. From my perspective, I was an unemployed, disabled random person who might not be well enough to work for months, with a totally unstable life and future. The man with whom I was speaking saw me as a brilliant celebrity scientist! (LOL). When I took leave of the conversation to speak to the loan officer, this man went ahead of me and told him to give me anything I wanted. He was president of the bank. He gave me the loan. From his perspective I was a trustworthy person, holding a position of responsibility important to national security, in one of the most prestigious jobs I could have entered out of graduate school. Miracle #5.
God answered all five prayers in the order I asked, over the space of 48 hours. I had made an agreement with “God”, as to what would happen if he engineered five miracles for me. God proved he is real, loving, compassionate, absolutely able to rule over every force in life to do good for those who will trust, obey, and love him. I set aside my career. Over the past 50 years I have become as earnest a scholar of the Bible, the customs and writings styles of the times and personal student under Christ, as I was a scientist. I eventually learned only a small fraction of people read the Bible from the perspective it was written, God’s perspective. Most miss nuances, and gloss over thousands of details to take literally much that was written symbolically. The Bible says plainly, GOD’S TIME IS NOT MAN’S TIME, yet many people insist he created all things in six 24-hour periods. This is nonsense in the correct context, using GOD’s time, he has used scientists to reveal that HIS six days, when he created the lights of the heavens, and all that exists lasted not six, 24 human-hour periods, but at least 14 billion human years. The second “day” in God’s time, when he created Earth, and the seas and dry land appeared,we know lasted more than two billion of our years. This confirms what the Bible says about time as far as God is concerned. “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8).
When I found God, and realized he is a loving, caring, miracle working God who is the Great Scientist, I had no qualms about following him. There have been trials of every imaginable kind, but because his miracles never ceased and he sustained me in all tribulations, he has made my faith unshakeble.