by Al Gray as told to Jan Gray
My high draft number let me miss Vietnam when I began college in 1970. Yet my life was in turmoil.
Many of my friends were enjoying free sex and doing their thing. I was raised in the church, but now I questioned everything. At the university, higher learning included Peanuts comic strips and the great literary value of Beatles lyrics.
I deduced that yes, there's a God, but He doesn't interact with man. The Scriptures are men's writings and have no basis for guiding my life. I wasn't merely skeptical. In doubting the credibility of the Bible, I rejected Christ.
My older brother became involved in Eastern religions, and I shared my doubts with him. He invited me to hear a so-called Messiah. Afterwards, I was disgusted. I wasn't immoral, but I had a strong sense of my sin. Eastern mysticism offered no relief from guilt.
I attended church through my senior year in college. I wanted to be with friends and look for girls. There I found Jan. Pursuing her brought me into a closer relationship with the church and I met people who were different.
We attended a Sunday school class on Genesis. The teacher shared scientific information to support Biblical creation and a worldwide flood. This class provided my first opportunity to see that the Scriptures can be scientifically supported. Perhaps Christianity was not a fairy tale faith.
I continued to examine the lives of my friends at school and could see the results of their belief system. "Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.... Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another" (Rom. 1:22,24). I wanted my life to be different from their "if it feels good, do it" philosophy. Their relationships appeared shallow. They could not relate to authority or each other.
Valentine's Day came and Jan and I agreed to make cards for each other. On Feb. 13, 1974, I was in her parents' den working on her card. As I examined the qualities I appreciate in Jan, I knew I wanted the same for my life. I had memorized John 3:16 as a child: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." I knew the guilt of my sin. I also understood that God sent His perfect Son Jesus to die on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin. Because He overcame death, He was greater than my guilt and sin. I bowed my head and asked Him to forgive my sin, and to be my Lord and Savior.
Jan rejoiced and wept as I shared my conversion with her. I had no idea that God had been dealing with her, also. "I was planning to break up with you tonight," she said. "I promised God I would only date committed Christians."
I sat there dumbfounded. I had no idea that she was about to end our relationship. She explained, "I didn't want your conversion to be based on us. I knew you had to make a personal commitment to Christ apart from me." Jan accepted my proposal for marriage that night.
A couple of years later, during my morning Bible study, I noticed Romans 1:20, "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." God reveals Himself through creation. Because I had believed evolution's lie, I was blinded to God. I knew I wanted to help others avoid that pitfall.
Jan and I celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary in 1997. We have two children. Our daughter is 18 and has a strong commitment to Christ. Our son is 11 and growing in the Lord. I want my children to know they can trust the Scriptures and their scientific and historical accuracy. We have discussed evolution and other philosphies and researched their fallacies. God has even opened the door for me to share this information through editorials in the local newspapers.
Al graduated suma cum laude from Mercer University in 1974 and from Mercer's School of Business with an MBA a few years later.
And we were married June 7, 1975.... Obvious evidence that God does intervene and interact in our daily lives. I had made up my mind to end our relationship, forgetting it was also Valentine's Day!
It's been quite a ride and I continue to be amazed at how God intervenes and works in our lives. There have been times when we've taken each other to places neither of us wanted to go but we've done it together. Our roller coaster adventure started right after our marriage vows - when we were forced to leave for our honeymoon... with our "Genesis" Sunday school teacher and his wife! (My fault... some people came to our wedding to get even.) But that is another story for another day.....
Happy Anniversary, Buford!
Loving you always,
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pictures and text copyright Janice E. Gray 2013