by Ronald L. Carter, Ph.D.
Is it right for a boy to choose the course of the life of a man? A twelve- year old once did that for me. When I was a boy of twelve, I made a decision that affected the whole outcome of my life.
At a summer camp, I heard an explanation of why Jesus Christ was executed on the cross. The explanation was so clear and simple that I can still remember it. The teacher told me that God loves me. The problem was that God and I both knew that I was not good. This put a barrier between us that I could not cross to pursue a relationship with God. Now, Jesus Christ lived a perfect life, and it was God's plan for Jesus (His Son) to take the all punishment of death and separation from God that I as a sinful person deserved. Justice had been served, the punishment had already been accomplished, and I could have an eternal relationship with God because of the perfection of Christ!
The teacher went on to say that to enter into that relationship, I needed to agree that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He died for my sins and was resurrected on the third day as evidence that I had been reconciled to God. Now I had not known my father since the age of five when my parents were divorced. Believing that a relationship with God would be even more satisfying than the relationship I desired with a father, I quickly made my agreement public.
So, as a young person, I began a personal relationship with God through Christ. I did not have the help of close Christian friends so the relationship didn't really develop until much later in my life. In the same year my own children were twelve and nine years old, I was confronted with a startling challenge. I was challenged to believe that the Bible is really the written Word of God, and if I believed, the relationship with Christ that I had started 22 years earlier would surely mature.
It was as elementary as this: To be a friend of God, I should believe what He said. As a scientist, I made the decision based on an operational hypothesis. I decided to give the Bible a test for a three month time period. I would study the Bible, and to every degree possible, I would use the counsel of the Bible to direct my life, my relationships with my wife, my children, and others.
As a young Assistant Professor of Physics, I honestly was not pleased with my life. I did not have a good relationship with my wife, or with my children. In fact, I really didn't have any close relationships, and about all I thought about was my career. I had become cynical and didn't really trust anything or anyone, except my own ideas.
The results of believing the Bible were so pleasant and productive that I forgot the time limit on the test of the operational hypothesis for more than a year. By then, my relationship with God was strengthened because I had believed wise counsel in the Bible, His written Word.
The first thing that happened was that a deeper, more personal dimension began to develop in my relationship with God. Then within two years, my wife Carole, and both of our children became believers in Jesus Christ. A true sense of affection and loyalty began to develop in our family as a result of this. I realized for the first time in my life that family life could be satisfying.
Another result of trusting in the counsel of the Bible was that I learned to be a friend, and consequently made true friends. The friends I found in others who had accepted the relationship with God through Jesus Christ were loyal and willing to help me use the Bible as a guide for my life.
And so, to this day I enjoy a rewarding and close relationship with God and my wife, two grown children and their spouses who are believing Christians, four grandsons, good Christian friends, and a successful and rewarding career as a university professor. I can honestly say that all that I now enjoy in life is the result of two decisions. The first decision, made as a boy, was to put my trust in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and begin a relationship with Him. The second, was to take seriously the wise, reliable counsel of the Bible as God's written word. I believe this is true for all people. "A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel." (Proverbs 1:5)
Ronald L. Carter is Professor in Electrical Engineering at The University of Texas at Arlington. He and his wife, Carole, reside in Arlington, Texas.