I have an English degree from Princeton and law degrees from Oxford and Columbia. The judge I clerked for, a wonderful man named Judge Griesa, taught me how to write “for humans,” as he put it. “Keep it short,” he he told me. “Make it clear.” I feel like God trained me up as a writer so that I could have the privilege of sharing some of His story with you.
I’ve been a Christian since I was 19. Prior to that, I didn’t believe in God. I’d open the Bible and read about things like Samson setting foxes tails on fire, and think, “what?”
But one day in college, when I was 19, I was sick of being restless and feeling empty. I read in the gospel of Luke that if we ask God for something that He would want us to have, He will give it. Huh, I thought. Well, I want faith. And I bet God would want me to have faith, also. So if I ask for faith, He will give it to me.
I shut the Bible and asked God for faith– begged Him really.
After that, I began to read just a teeny, tiny, bit of the Bible each day. I was taking English 101 at the time, which meant everything was Bible-based. I also read C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. When Lewis wrote that people bad-mouth each other because deep down, they just want to be God themselves, it made sense of the world as I’d experienced it.
A month later, I was reading my few verses in the Bible and realized I actually believed what I was reading. I started to weep. I now know those were tears of repentance. Tears are what happens when we creatures of clay meet the God of perfect love. And then peace like a physical presence entered me. I now know that’s what the Bible calls “the peace that passes all understanding.” It’s Christ himself, who comes to dwell inside any of us who ask Him.
At that time, I still didn’t know if I believed the whole Bible. I was raised Episcopalian, and most ministers in that denomination teach that a lot of the Bible is “just stories.” But when I was 36, I had another earthquake. Everything in my life, everything I truly cared about, fell apart at the same time. I must be really stubborn, because it took failure in my career, marriage, and parenting for me to finally bend the knee. I lay on my bed and said, “God, I give up. I can’t fix any of these things on my own. Whatever you want me to do, I will do.”
I got up, opened the Bible, and saw something I didn’t understand. I shrugged and thought, “well, God, if that’s the way You want it, that’s fine by me.” And within a week, God gave me insight into it. The same thing happened over and over. The Bible opened up for me. It all made sense. It’s a funny thing, but it’s not until we are willing to believe the Bible, that it starts to make sense. I didn’t know it at the time, but what happened to me was the moment of total submission.
All my memories prior to that moment are dark. All my memories after that moment are like a sun-filled room. My circumstances come and go. My obedience comes and goes. But God remains, loving, kind, forgiving and transforming everything. And as my pastor Tim Keller says, “unless you’re willing to believe the whole Bible, you’ll never believe God’s promises, because they seem too good to be true.”
My sense of time has changed, too. Prior to my moment of complete submission, time seemed so short. Now every single day sweeps into eternity, echoing the way the wind moves through the trees. I can’t explain it. I can only say that I hope you will join us on our journey. You’ll never regret it. If you let Him, God will set your life on fire and destroy all the foxes who sneak in and try to steal your joy. Jesus came that we may enjoy our lives and have it in abundance.
xo Caroline Coleman