What makes Jesus different?
I didn’t always feel that way.
I came to the United States to attend a small state college.
I planned to go on to medical school. My first year of college was perfect. I was getting great grades, and I had a girlfriend and lots of friends. And I was quick to point out to people that I had all of this without relying on anyone but me.
I knew plenty of Christians. In fact, I read the Bible often, just so I could argue with Christians. I wanted to know what they believed so I could break down their reasons for believing. For example, my biophysics professor was a Christian. He would tell me about the miracles in his life, the ways he supposedly saw God’s work in the world. But I thought he was way off. I’d argue with him, and try to convince him he was foolish to believe in Jesus. His faith was a joke to me.
It didn’t take long for God to change my mind. During my junior year of college, everything in my world started to fall apart. My girlfriend broke up with me, I ran out of money and I had to drop out of school. So much for having it made. I thought about going back to my family in Sri Lanka, but I didn’t want to face them when I’d failed so miserably.
One night, I sat in the college library, trying to come up with ways to get out of my situation. The only solution that seemed “reasonable” was suicide. But as I sat there thinking of the best way to kill myself, I heard a voice say, “Have you ever asked me for help?” I looked around and couldn’t see anyone. I thought I was going crazy. Then I heard the voice say, “I’m Jesus, and I’m right here next to you.”
I know this sounds strange. Believe me, I was pretty freaked out by it, too. But I honestly heard Jesus talking to me. As I listened, I felt something I’d never experienced before.
I felt filled up, not hollow and empty. I knew that what was happening to me was real.
I wanted to talk to someone, but I didn’t know who. Suddenly I felt God urging me to go see my biophysics professor. That’s right, the same guy I’d been arguing with all year.
I walked across campus to the science building and found him working in his office. As I walked in, he said, “I’m so glad you’re here. God has put you on my heart and I’ve been hoping you’d come and talk to me.” We talked a long time. I told him how empty my life had become.
I told him what I’d experienced in the library. As he talked to me about Jesus’ power to change lives, I knew I was ready to follow Jesus. He prayed with me. That was the day I became a Christian.
After that, things started to change. God provided just what I needed, like a rent-free place to stay. But it wasn’t just my situation, it was my heart that was really changing.
I wasn’t worried about the future because I knew the Lord was in control, not me.
The people around me saw the changes too. Before I became a Christian, I was arrogant, selfish and manipulative. I had done things to intentionally turn people away from their Christian faith. But after my conversion, I felt humbled by God’s power to change me. I wanted people to see Jesus in my life, not me or my accomplishments. I was almost grateful for my struggles, because I knew God was using them to keep me humble and focused on him. I wanted people to think, “Hey, if God can change the life of someone like Sam, I wonder what he can do in my life.”
Even when things in my life are hard, I know God is with me. I feel his presence through the people at my church who pray for me and support me. I see him in the Christian friends he’s given me. I try to serve him by counseling at a Bible camp in the summers. And I still hear his voice through his Word and through his answers to my prayers.
So why do I believe in Jesus? Because he’s real. That night in the library, when I hit the bottom, my New Age thinking didn’t help me. Buddha wasn’t there for me.
It was Jesus who saved me.