Awake in the Dark

I was proud. (Yeah, I know, “was?”) So every time my Christian friend Mark brought up the J-word, I’d fire off a series of “well-how-do-you-explain-this?” questions, and he’d quickly change the subject.

untitledBut what Mark didn’t realize was that I was genuinely searching. Just not in ways he would recognize. Like reading Autobiography of a Yogi, which attempted, among other things, to validate its version of Hinduism by showing how Jesus-like it was.

For example, one venerated holy man showed “compassion” by allowing people to crawl into his tent and sniff his palms, which miraculously smelled like lotus blossoms. This, the author said, was analogous to Jesus healing people and raising them from the dead. “Uh, no,” I thought, “one of these things is not like the others.”

Interestingly, it was Autobiography that introduced me to Jesus. Halfway through, I bought a Bible (at a remote store where no one would recognize me) because I wanted to read everything Jesus had said, and not just the stuff my yogi friend selected. Jesus’s words were like nothing I’d ever encountered. My heart began to yearn. Almost two years passed. I scoured the writings of other religions and pondered them, but couldn’t shake the conviction that Jesus’s teachings and character were utterly unique.

Finally, I confessed to my atheist girlfriend that I thought I might be “turning into a Christian.” She was pretty sure it would blow over. But it didn’t (a few months later, she turned into one too).

Then one night at a café, one of Mark’s Jesus-y friends asked, “So, Mitch, how long have you been a believer?” Mark cringed and started to warn him, “Oh, no, Mitch isn’t a—”

“About two weeks,” I answered.

I can still see the food falling out of Mark’s mouth. He’d long ago stopped trying to tell me about Jesus—but had never stop praying for me. He shouted, “Now I know there’s a God! You’re the last person on earth I thought would believe! How?”

I told him about my secret journey, and concluded, “I may have been miles away and knocking on all the wrong doors, but at least I was looking. So, in a way, I was closer than the guy who’s at the right house, but asleep on the front porch.”

Two years later, a musician friend named Keith Green released a song called “Asleep in the Light,” and I immediately thought about my convoluted conversion. I still choke up when I hear the song.

Are there people you know who are “asleep in the light”? Or “awake in the dark,” for that matter? Which of them is closer? Only God knows. So your best bet is to keep loving them all.

And never stop praying for them. 

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir, Religion/Faith, Story Power and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

50 Responses to Awake in the Dark

  1. Galen says:

    Loved your story, Mitch! Keith Green was a great influence on many, including myself. Michael Card is another that has deeply influenced me not only through his music, but his writings. We had the privilege of going on a tour of Israel with him a couple years ago and got to know him personally. He’s a real scholar, but more than anything else, a lover of Jesus.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for sharing your moving journey – I guess, I am both asleep in the and awake in the dark. I know the truth and I believe – I just need to continue the journey. I do plan to search for that song.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is so good! My tiny heart wished it didn’t have to end. What happened next? How did Mark respond further? How about the story of your atheist-turned-Christian girlfriend? Wooops. Couldn’t contain myself. I enjoyed this. 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  4. joyroses13 says:

    Such a great post! Thank you for sharing it! Like another reader said, I would love to hear more of your story. It is a great encouragement to those who are still praying for their loved ones to come to know Jesus. Encouragement that is needed. A gentle reminder of how God can work in miraculous ways! Thank you and blessings to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jon Kissner says:

    Mitch this is great! Thanks for sharing your secret journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. @vapor_sage says:

    Praise God for Mitch Teemley! Your inspired work is a blessing to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. BelleUnruh says:

    Your journey to Jesus reminds me of my youngst sister’s. She studied many religions and finally became a Christian. C.S. Lewis called himself a “reluctant” Christian . That was my sister. We were raised in a very strict church and she had no desire to be a Christian. But she recognized what was true.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh what a great story, thanks for encouraging us to share the Gospel with others!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. revruss1220 says:

    I love the metaphor, comparing knocking on the wrong doors with being asleep on the porch of the right house. And how many times do we mistake our non-believing friends’ questions as challenges instead of genuine seeking?

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Keith Green! My gosh, that takes me back! I had a roommate in college who’d play his records over and over (yes, records). I remember his version of Psalm 8 quite well, as I’d hum it to myself whenever I felt afraid or worried.
    Your story is a beautiful one, Mitch, and you’re a great storyteller.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow, thanks for sharing this inspiring story, Mitch. Keith Green was the first Christian artist I listened to and the first Christian album I bought. His music still convicts me and draws me closer to Christ 35 years later.
    I have great memories of drawing closer to Christ through the music of Keith Green and Chuck Girard.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. M.B. Henry says:

    Wow what an inspirational share. Must have been an incredible journey (and probably still is!)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Jon says:

    Thanks for this post, Mitch. It is timely for me. I stumbled upon a random blog yesterday I have been praying about. Written by a woman who describes herself as an atheist, put upon by the “irrational” believers she works with. She was given a bible by one of them (who reportedly hadn’t read it all and couldn’t really answer questions). The atheist has put a great deal of time and energy into writing a book-by-book (extremely hostile) review of the entire bible over many months. I didn’t come to Christ until I was about 15 and I am still learning to walk with Him at 63. However, at no time in my life did I have the faith in chance events to call myself an atheist. Any advice about the wisdom of trying to engage this woman in dialog? If the Word didn’t do it…

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      Jon, I think “friendship evangelism” has a lot going for it: get to know a person, genuinely care about them, and then (if possible) let them bring up the topic of faith. It takes patience and you may not see the fruit of it yourself; someone else may plant and water seeds in the ground you simply helped break up. Also, it’s easier to do in person (i.e. hang out with them), but if it were me I think I try something like that. The most militant atheists are usually disappointed idealists who are angry at God for not existing (i.e. not being who/what they want him to be). Once their hearts are softened by the love of patient believing friends, they begin to reconsider the God they long for.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. What an amazing testimony, Mitch! Thank you for sharing it. It’s so encouraging for many of us who have been praying a long time for friends and loved ones who don’t know Jesus. And Keith Green was a friend of yours? How cool is that?! His music really influenced and inspired me. Wonderful post, Mitch!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Nancy Ruegg says:

    My prayer list includes a number of people either asleep in the light or awake in the dark. Hearing your story gives me great encouragement to press on with persistent prayers for them. Thank you, Mitch!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. redeemedview says:

    I like, where you said – “Jesus’s words were like nothing I’d ever encountered. My heart began to yearn.” Woah, that’s so cool, we should never limit the Holy Spirit’s power to convict and save! And I also liked where you said – “I can still see the food falling out of Mark’s mouth. He’d long ago stopped trying to tell me about Jesus—but had never stop praying for me. He shouted, “Now I know there’s a God! You’re the last person on earth I thought would believe! How?” – Hahaha, I think this is a common response most believer’s have, we pray without actually expecting God to do something but He still does and then we are shocked! 🙂 Haha. Thank you for sharing, I am going to start praying hard and believing even harder for my friends and loved ones’ salvation! God bless! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  17. sophie says:

    Hmm really interesting, Mitch! I always wonder if I’d be Christian if I didn’t grow up with it. My family go to church weekly and are very involved, but I still haven’t read any of the bible by myself. I’m definitely ‘christian’, but feel a bit iffy with ‘Christian’ presently without having read any religious text – let alone the bible. So I haven’t decided if I think a Christian (or any) God exists, but I see how strong the faith of most of the people I’m closest to is, and many of them are Christians, and that I think strengthens my own faith each day. In any case, so glad for you that you found a God that gives you purpose and fulfilment!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      Thanks, Sophie! I’m hoping and praying you’ll seek to truly know the one who made you. The difference between being officially/culturally Christian and knowing your Creator, is like the difference between owning a photo of a house and owning a house (only infinitely more important). Our very purpose is to know him (John 17:3). Blessings.

      Liked by 1 person

      • sophie says:

        I understand – I think part of me is scared to trust God completely? (But maybe that’s just my human weakness and the excuses I make for myself) He is really too good to be true, and not something I deserve (I wish I could say I mean that lightly). I’ve been thinking/praying about it recently – the fact that I’ve done nothing to deserve Jesus makes him even more of a gift, right? But it’s so hard to accept.

        Liked by 1 person

      • mitchteemley says:

        “The fact that I’ve done nothing to deserve Jesus makes him even more of a gift.” You nailed it, Sophie. And that’s no less true for any of us. A great adventure lies before you! https://mitchteemley.com/2015/04/07/did-jesus-really-have-to-die/

        Like

  18. Paula says:

    This is great testimony. I’d like to share the link on my Facebook page, okay? I like how you phrased that: “turned into a Christian.” POOF! you’re a Christian. :>)
    Keith Green’s music is some of the first music I listened to after I decided to REALLY follow Jesus, having returned from a not-so-Christlike lifestyle.
    Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. knabbler says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Mitch. Someday soo, I’ll get into the story of how I came to believe. What I love is that my story is completely different, but turns out exactly the same. Have a blessed New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Jennwith2ns says:

    THIS.

    For one thing, it’s heartening when I think of all the people I used to try to introduce to Jesus over the years (sometimes not entirely graciously)–and hope that maybe God draws them into His life anyway, still, after all this time.

    For another thing–I really think the Pilgrimage is for BOTH those groups of people. Other people, too, but I think this might be a good way to describe the types of people who are gravitating there right now–both in the process of waking up.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Mitch, I love this so, so much! Thanks for sharing. I am sending it to a friend who needs the encouragement. I’m praying for her and the one she’s feeling discouraged about!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. What an encouraging testimony! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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