I met him on a recent flight, and our light banter soon turned more serious.
“Having a more rationale mind, how do you see faith in God playing a part?” I asked.
“Not at all,” he confided. “If I can’t prove it, I don’t believe it.”
Sebastian is a recent high school graduate, and one of just ten students chosen last year from a pool of 60,000 in a robotics contest, to be honored by the inventor of the Segway. Brilliant, a scientists’ mind, he said he wanted to someday invent the newest prosthesis. He told me he had no church upbringing, never deeply considered faith in God. I thought his response had closed a door, but moments later he asked, “How do you know it’s true, I mean all this stuff about God?” A single thread of curiosity shone from his eyes.
“Do you really want to know?” I asked.
“My journey began in order to find out if there was such a thing as absolute truth, and if so, could I find it?” As I began, he leaned toward me, eyes penetrating my words, as if scrutinizing them, looking for empirical evidence. When I finished, he shook his head, and leaned back. We were quiet for a moment, but then he began to ask more difficult questions. They weren’t about the theory of evolution, or scientific refutations on the existence of God. They were soul questions, hard because most of them could only be answered by trusting the One who holds the answers.
“I don’t seem to be able to have this faith you’re talking about,” he confided.
So, I told him about a man who had asked me recently, “What if you get to the end of your life, and discover that it was all a lie?”
“What did you tell him?” Sebastian asked.
“Well, I told him that the same Jesus I met on a lonely patch of highway while searching for truth, and the same Jesus I trusted the night I put my life into his hands, and the same Jesus I wake up to every morning, is the same Jesus I will see when I leave this earth and join Him in heaven. The possibility that it’s not true, has never been an option for me, because the faith I have is not mustered up, but a gift from God.” I went on to fill in some color in the story I had told him.
“Several years before that snowy night in Michigan when I accepted Christ, I had purchased an antique charcoal picture of a man leaning over a ledge to rescue a lamb. After the meeting I returned to my dorm room, and that’s the first thing I saw when I entered. I had admired it a thousand times, but in that moment my eyes were opened to see for the first time that Jesus was the man, the Good Shepherd who had left the 99 to save one, and I was that one.”
Sebastian sat pensive, a little speechless. He looked into his phone, but I could tell he wasn’t seeing anything there, but letting words I had spoken sink into the places where they had never reached. Relentless now, he kept asking questions. They were sincere, honest, probing about a life he had never imagined. Two hours passed, as if time stood still. On our descent, he formed a final question.
“Why do you believe?” he asked.
“Because of love,” I said. “It’s not a creed I follow, not a list of laws I must maintain, or a threat of discipline if I don’t live up to it. His grip on me tightens every year I’m alive. In fact, if someone came into this plane right now with a gun, and asked every person if they were a Christian, and shot those who said yes, I would die. I could not refuse Him in that hour, because first, I am convinced more than life itself that it’s all true, and second, I couldn’t go on living if in the hour of my greatest test, I had lied to save my own life.”
“Here’s my business card,” I said. “When you have another one of your great questions, send me a note. You probably noticed, I don’t have all the answers, but I’ll do my best”
He laughed, and thanked me.
‘Lord,’ I prayed, ‘it’s not a mistake that you allowed our lives to touch tonight, perhaps you have a plan to use this brilliant young scientist. Please extend to him the gift of belief, so that he might bring your light into the places I could never reach.’