In the past I shared how God used the explosion of Mt. St. Helens to dramatically change my world. Today I am compelled to recount that experience in light of current events.
Forty years ago I felt like my life was unraveling. I was newly aware of the instability of the times and they unnerved me. Though I had reached many of the goals I had set for myself, I had no peace or lasting satisfaction. The bad decisions of my past were now repeating and I was deeply disturbed by my pattern of unfaithfulness. Years earlier I claimed faith in God, but now I actually said with contempt, “I don’t even believe there is a God.”
I was finally shaken awake by the revelation of God’s power when I—along with millions in the Northwest—experienced the explosion of Mt. St. Helens. A friend called to ask if I had seen the ash-cloud. I answered, “Sure it’s on television right now.” He came back, “No, have you seen it. Tim, go outside and see it for yourself!” So I walked outside and looked down a rural highway to see what I thought would be a distant sight, but it seemed like the volcano was at the end of the road and the black mushroom cloud towered up and over everything. With the soaring menace rose my apprehension as I sensed the uncertainty of a broken world. Like a ground-fault my mind opened up to a disturbing question, “I wonder if there is a God?” After I paused to consider the immediate implications, some foundational words took form in my heart, “Be still and know that I am God.”
I had no idea what to do with these thoughts and the deep questions they entailed, but immediately I began rummaging through assorted bookstores. My process was read-until-reject. Virtually all options were on the table. The pile of rejects stacked up quickly. This went on for a number of months that only produced confusion. Finally, I became so “desperate” that I decided to visit a cathedral class church in downtown Seattle. This only revealed how clueless I was about such things. I was surprised to learn that all the doors were locked on Sunday at 3:30pm.
I went on thrashing about like this for several more weeks. So I decided to visit another church seen from a central Seattle freeway, but this time I arrived on Sunday morning. Here I was greeted warmly, and after a short discussion I was guided to a “new believers class.” They gave me a small booklet of weekly lessons with blanks to fill in Bible verses. Next I joined the worship service where the pastor was teaching about the life of King David, “a man after God’s own heart.” I realized this was not how I was living, and I needed a change of heart.
This began a step-wise progression that included encouraging steps forward followed by disheartening setbacks. I was deeply troubled to learn that more scriptural knowledge about the holy and loving life of Jesus was powerfully attractive, yet completely unattainable. My friends and family observed my unstable behavior with concern or contempt. This put a great strain on my relationships. Some of those I valued most were permanently broken. Yet I was compelled to push forward in an effort to know Jesus Christ personally.
Over several weeks of filling out the booklet and memorizing key verses, I learned some essential Biblical promises. For example, according to 1 John 1:9,
“If we confess out sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
This was essential to me because I was increasingly aware that my life was far from the holy and loving life of Jesus who I desperately wanted to know. It was at this very time that I came across another promise that would help undergird my faith. In order to memorize Psalm 46:1, I read the context of the Psalm. I have since memorized the whole Psalm, but here is the core message I then realized was the living Word of God.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
I don’t believe there was any way I could have previously known these words were in the Bible, much less associated with a trembling mountain. I was Biblically illiterate. But now I knew there was a God who was able to speak his Word into my life!
As the weeks went on, I began to grow in my faith in Jesus as my savoir. Yet I knew there were parts of my life still out of control. Then exactly 5 weeks later I came across a scriptural commandment that did not initially seem to pose a challenge. It was an encouragement to faithfully meet in church with other believers, because the Day of Christ’s return was near. I was already doing this. But once again, before memorizing Hebrews 10:25, I read the context through verse 31,
Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries… It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
In that moment I saw it was my sinful rebellion that had kept me from knowing who Jesus was—He is the Lord! Right then I asked God to forgive me and trusted him as my Savior and Lord. Immediately after that, I experienced the power to overcome those particular temptations that had previously mastered me. I finally had a sense of assurance that I knew Jesus personally.
Now this year I will have known Jesus as my Savior and Lord for thirty-nine years. He has blessed me in so many wonderful ways. I am very grateful. But here is one essential truth that I have learned: God speaks to us in a way he knows we can understand. This is the chief reason for the website/blog I now publish called, www.ThingsRevealed.net. Here you will find some of the many miracles God has done in my life and that of my family. I have found that God actually promises to speak to us if we call out to him:
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
Yet when God does speak, we are responsible to listen and be willing to be changed:
See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven.
In view of all this, on this Easter of 2020, I really must implore you to “go outside” to look and listen. God is doing a new thing. I believe if you are honest with yourself, you will see that God has completely changed your world! Will you now open your life to God’s message of forgiveness through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
2 Corinthians 5:20
Tim Nordgren, 4/12/20
- Scripture references from, The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
- This year I created a new introduction to the Bible study formatted in the same way as the booklet I received from my first church. The Bible: Foundation, Focus, and Fulfillment. (Link)