50 Year Legacy – How I Became a Jesus Follower: Part Three

I am celebrating a Golden Anniversary!  50 years ago this July I started following Jesus. Here’s how it began in May of 1970…

Within a stone’s throw of my apartment was the beautiful Evan’s Chapel right on campus. John Evans had founded Denver University and must have won the naming rights to the chapel.

I found out later that he also founded Northwestern University and the town I have lived in for over 40 years, Evanston, IL was named after him too. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I started strolling over to the chapel in the evenings. By this point, if I needed a label, I would have grabbed agnostic: a person who claims neither faith or disbelief in God. My first chapel visits were just to check it out. Pretty! Then I began to slip into a bench to sit and ponder. One evening I was alone in there, as usually was the case, and I got out of the bench and laid down in the aisle. In what might have been a scene from a movie, I pounded my fist on the floor and cried out, “God, if you are there, show yourself.”

One night he did.

I remember this evening like it happened yesterday. I exited the small chapel after one of my pleading prayers and was approached by a guy holding some kind of small pamphlets. He offered me one and I, ever polite, accepted. The title was,  “The Permanent Revolution” and the art featured a peace sign and a raised fist. I still have it. But then, I handed it back.

“No thank you. I’ve been involved in efforts towards political change and it failed.” That comment did not deter him. He responded easily with talk of a spiritual revolution of the heart. I rebutted that I had known religion and really, thank you but I’m not interested. The Kent State killings and the aftermath were the dead-end point of my search for meaning. All my idealism and “rosy colored glasses” approach to life felt snuffed out.

He countered that this revolution was about relationship with Jesus, not religion. I was unfamiliar with the distinction. I remembered Jesus from my childhood and quietly took the tract back. That was as far as I could go in this conversation.

“Do you have a Bible?” he asked me. Of course I didn’t. He kindly suggested I get a hold of one and read the Gospel of John. That was it. No names or numbers were exchanged. But God knew where I was and how to find me.

I walked away intrigued. Maybe one of the roommates would have a Bible. Turns out, Hazel did. I thumbed through it and found the gospel of John but didn’t read any of it yet. The next day I saw a notice on campus about an intro meeting about a new-to-me practice called TM which stood for Transcendental Meditation. Might as well check that out too. I remember nothing about that except that it didn’t fit me.

A couple days later, the three of us were in the apartment at the same time when the phone rang. Marilyn answered it and I eavesdropped on the conversation. I quickly got the gist that she was invited to an event that had something to do with the guy on campus whom I talked to outside of the chapel. She was trying to end the call with a “Thank you but I’m not interested.”

“Who are you talking to?” I mouthed. “Those people passing out the Jesus stuff” she whispered back. “I’ll talk to them” I responded and reached for the phone. I don’t think anyone was expecting that, including me! Although we had not exchanged names or numbers in the brief encounter by the chapel, Marilyn must’ve provided her contact info and this was a follow up call.

First God found me on campus, then he knew where I was living.

The invitation was to a book discussion the following night at a local church.  Without overthinking it, I said, “Sure, I’ll go” or something like that. Arrangements were made to pick me up on campus. I found myself somewhat mystified by the unfolding of these events but remember feeling no trepidation, only curiosity.

I wish I recalled who picked me up. Some details now, 50 years later, are blurry. We drove to a church in Littleton, CO and headed to the basement.  I do have a clear memory of a dynamic presenter and a heady theological discussion on the book which was “The God Who Is There” by Francis Schaefer. I was fairly lost in the discussion and remembered how poorly I did in my philosophy class at college.

Regardless of my level of engagement with the book discussion, I felt something from the people and what must have been the presence of God. Everyone was very kind and I felt no judgement. When someone invited me to come back to the church on Sunday for the service, I didn’t hesitate at all to say yes.

Honestly, I wasn’t thinking that much about theology or anything deep, I knew something was stirring inside me and wanted to see where that was going. Was I seeking God? I don’t know if I would have called it that but looking back, I can see that God was clearly seeking me.

One thing I knew for sure I didn’t want, one more bandwagon to climb on. (to be continued.)

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4 Responses to “50 Year Legacy – How I Became a Jesus Follower: Part Three”


  1. 1 tali July 16, 2020 at 3:11 PM

    Tish,

    I’ve loved reading and learning the details of your testimony. It’s beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

    I love how the Lord “has our number” and “knows where we live”.

    Praying all is well with you and your family.

    Tali Snow

    847.962.9987 talisnow.com empathy | positivity | developer | harmony | communication

    >

  2. 3 Megan Pool July 17, 2020 at 5:25 AM

    I feel on the edge of my seat. This makes me reflect on my own journey and how intimately God was present for me. Thank you for sharing this!


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