Walking up the inner city of Winterthur, I saw this group of people coming at me. It was the time of Fasnacht, as we call carneval in Switzerland, and the band was a Guggemusig. Now this is hard to understand for non-Swiss. This band – consisting of drummers and lots of trumpets, trombones and such – deliberately played out of tune to scare the demons of winter and drive them out. I never quite understood the link. God likes harmony, his enemy therefore likes disharmony. And that is why I was not at least astonished by what I saw. Afraid, but not astonished.
There was a second group of beings right above that band of musicians, taking pleasure in what they heard. And in the carneval lifestyle of the people playing. Demons. Probably the ones that were to be driven out of town.
The musicians were all dressed up to be scary. The demons did not need to dress up. It was all in their nature.
What was I to do? I was headed right into their direction, and in a few seconds they were to intercept my path. I saw that there was a small road to my left and remembered that the church of my brother was right in the corner building. I took a sharp left turn, hurried up into the building, to the second floor, into the church room, and gave my life to the Lord.
That is how I used to give my testimony. As if I had never before thought about my faith. But that is not true.
A decision like that is rarely made in a moment. It is a process. My mom had taken me to church when I was 7. Jesus people. The seventies. I am giving away my age here. But that did not last.
When I was between 12 and 13, we took a second attempt. Again not a lasting one, but something had been engraved into my young soul. Looking back, the daughter of the pastor was not the only reason why I kept going to that church even after my mom had dropped out again. Even after I had been put into a catholic boarding home I kept on going – for a while.
But more importantly, I kept on reading the bible. I always told myself that I was only doing it because it was the only thing allowed apart from homework during the daily study times.
A short relationship with a girl that called herself Christian and even went to church reintroduced me to religion. Even though it was pure religion, justification by works, my thoughts went back to the times when I believed in Jesus. Yes, I had believed in Jesus, and maybe never stopped doing so. But a humanistic school, a broken family had hampered my believes: how could God be reconciled with science? And how could he let my parents split and my mom put me in a boarding home? Too many bad things had happened.
My brother had been going to church for quite a while, and when I moved in with him he told me about his faith. It sounded familiar, yet more alive. So far I had not heard of the gifts of the Spirit. And I had not seen a lifestyle changed. Most of it was show. At least in my eyes. Apart maybe from Father Hilary in the boarding home. He was mercy personified.
Now here I was. 22 years of age. I just left university because I was not ready for it, and had started an education to become a computer programmer. A totally head driven young individual. Math, science, logic, knowledge, reason.
I had heard of the evangelization methods used by the church prior to Luther. You could pay your way out of hell and purgory. I had experienced the evangelization methods of the churches I went to. Still, hell was the reason to change your life. But the currency for escape was your life now. Accept Jesus, give him your life, and you will be saved.
I had come to believe that hell was but a method to frighten people into church. And now it was so real – on the second level, just above a people having fun at carneval.
How much has changed since then. I do not know whether I really saw what I saw that day. All I know: I was more than ripe. I was ready to accept Jesus. Maybe I needed a supernatural reason, an excuse to do so. Maybe I constructed this myself. Maybe it was real. I honestly do not know. I made up so many stories in my former life, maybe that is just one of them.
Does it matter? No. It does matter that since then I have grown to love Jesus. Not only because he saved me from hell. Not only for what he has done for me at the cross. But for who he is. He is my great brother. He is my husband (awkward to say, but we are his bride). He is my head. He is my twin. He is the image I am formed after. He is the pattern I live after. He is my Lord. He is my everything.
So here I am – a Spirit filled, tongue talking son of God, changed forever. I do not know whether my experience was real. But I do know that Jesus is real.
How about you?