November 6, 2014

Personal Reformation 4: Eric’s Testimony

by Eric Davis

2013-04-16_16-28-38_187I grew up in a home without Christ, but with parents who cared for me. All I knew of Christianity was an emotionally stirring, but very confusing Roman mass at Christmas now and then. And if I ever heard the true gospel in detail prior to my conversion at 23, I do not recall it.

Besides skiing and getting good enough grades to be applauded, I did not care about much. And it showed in my life. I was a very arrogant person who pursued pleasure at just about any expense. I hurt quite a few people along the way, to my great shame, and wish I could undo so many things.

During my college years, I dove deeper into alcohol and drug abuse and was out of control. Somehow, I graduated from college in the sciences. And I was restless and looking for another, bigger adventure. So, I decided to take a year off before graduate school and be a ski bum. I packed up my truck and moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. When I pulled into town 15 years ago, I was homeless, had no money, no job, no friends, and, worst of all, no eternal life. And I didn’t care.

For the most part, my days were spent skiing, and nights, intoxicated. And I loved it. I threw away the graduate school application. The skiing was just too amazing. And the intensity with which everyone pursued outdoor sports was amazing. The only thing I could liken it to was a fierce, religious devotion, and one which surpasses many Christians in their devotion. I was all in.

I was also a hardcore evolutionist. I had the hominid family tree memorized and could narrate how things came to be on earth over the past 4.5 billion years. Then God brought along a girl (my wife, now) who challenged me to check out the scientific evidence for a Creator. I had never heard of such an idea. But the more I studied, the more I saw that the universe, macro and micro, yelled loudly of its Creator.

dnaI’ll never forget the moment it hit me. I was studying one of many books on the intricacies of design in nature and I was gripped, stopped cold in my darkened tracks by what had been hiding in front of my eyes throughout whole life. I studied the idea, for example, that a man walks through a field, picks up a piece of obsidian with some gashes in it, shaped to a point and immediately concludes, “Cool, an arrowhead.” And an archaeologist brushes off a stack of bricks that forms a 90-degree angle in a barren, Turkish desert and concludes, “I wonder who built this wall?” Yet we look at something of much greater complexity such as a hand, the eye, or the double-helix structure of DNA and think, “That’s neat how that evolved through random chance and time.” I finally saw what was so embarrassingly, but frighteningly, obvious. Evolution is an impossibility. There really is a Creator. It was less of a spiritual experience and more of an intellectual one.

An evolutionary biologist then suggested that this Creator had revealed himself in the Bible, a book with which I was unfamiliar. My girlfriend had moved away (partly because she came to faith and Christ and needed to get away from me) so we started reading the Bible together over the phone.

This book, or, better yet, the God of this book, absolutely rocked me. As I read, it was like I was being addressed by God. The authority. The truth. It was like a spotlight shining into my soul. It knew me better than me. It told me who I was, what I had done, and why. It cut me open, dissected my soul, and explained everything about me. I could not hide. And, when it said that I was a sinner, well, I could not argue with that. I saw this amazing God who I had always known; a wise, loving, powerful God. Yet I saw he was a holy God. And so that was a problem, not for him, but for me.

But I wasn’t quite convinced. I needed to check out the Bible’s supposed translation errors, inconsistencies, and the reliability of the original manuscripts. So I did and the more I studied about it, the more the Bible stood up under scrutiny. I searched but found nothing that could objectively shut it down. So I kept reading it.

bibleAnd as I read, it became more clear. All my life I had never concerned myself with honoring or loving God. Instead, I had championed a life of sin and felt little remorse. On top of that, I had been spared from death during my sin many times, probably more than I can remember.

I deserved to die, and should have. With my life, I had made a clear declaration to God that I wanted nothing to do with him. My actions declared that I was an enemy of God and I deserved to spend eternity enduring this just wrath for my sins.

However, I learned that God is merciful. God is in the business of exposing people for who and what they really are, yet not leaving them there. He did something about my condition. He came as a person, Jesus Christ, lived the life I was both unwilling and incapable of: perfect righteousness. Then he died on the cross for me.

When he died on that cross, he served my just penalty from God. On the cross, he endured what I deserved so that I could enjoy what he deserved for all eternity. Christ stepped in and took my sentence. And he rose from the dead victoriously. The catch was that I had to believe.

And I balked a bit. There were some things I was holding onto in the world. I had just plunged myself deeper into some enticing sin and wanted a few more months of the high life. I remember thinking, “This is true, but I want to live it up another winter, then I will come to God.” But God was kind enough to show me from his word about this guy, Pharaoh. Pharaoh hardened his heart and it didn’t turn out well. In my being-drawn-by-the-Spirit logic, I thought, “Ok, this God is not going to force people to heaven. I need to repent now or it could be never.” God made it clear to me that mere man is not in a position to bargain. The truth was clear. I knew I needed to repent. And by God’s grace, he granted me the new birth by the Spirit and I bowed the knee to Christ in faith.

As I look back, God’s sovereign grace is so clear. I had no light in me and my will was completely bound up in sinning and new ways of sinning. I was not seeking God. I was not looking to become a Christian. I was rigorously running in the other direction. Yet God, in following through with the plan which he made before creation, snatched me from my hell-bound race. His Spirit landed inside my soul and granted me new life. That’s the only reason I was able to ascend to the high privilege of bowing the knee in faith to Jesus Christ. The song says it well:

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

God is the hero of my life. The privilege of serving and praising him is all mine.

If you do not know Christ, I plead with you to receive his love.

Soli Deo Gloria

Eric Davis

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Eric is the pastor of Cornerstone Church in Jackson Hole, WY. He and his team planted the church in 2008. Leslie is his wife of 14 years and mother of their 3 children.
  • Eric, I remember getting chills the first time I heard you tell this testimony at SCV retreat in the snow. Ok, it was cold. But 12 years later I still get goosebumps. I praise God for you, a trophy of his grace.

    • Eric Davis

      Thanks brother. Grateful for your investment in my life over the years.

  • Jason

    I can relate to investigating evolution leading you to reading your Bible. The same is what happened for me, though I had been raised in the church.

    I had just taken for granted that the Bible and what I was taught in school could easily be reconciled and to do that I twisted and discounted some of what the Bible said. With the lack of respect I’d unwittingly adopted, I really didn’t see a point in spending much time learning what it had to say, except in areas with which I agreed.

    When I first learned that even the scientific community no longer accepted some of the evidence cited in my classes, it broke the notion that everything I was told is unquestionably true. Now that my education wasn’t the “source of truth” I thought it was, I was free to actually dig in and think for myself.

    The height of irony is, people applaud you for being a “yes man” to the cirriculum you’re drilled with hours a day, 5 days a week because you’re a “free thinker”. When you start to point out how the Bible is a more accurate source of truth you’re told you’ve been brainwashed by the hour or so you may or may not spend in church in a week…

    • Eric Davis

      Jason-

      I can relate to that experience as some of those things happened to me. I remember one particular class in my undergrad, where, had anyone been a creationist, they would have not been able to pass the class w/ integrity.

  • tovlogos

    Amen, Eric — “God is in the business of exposing people for who and what they really are, yet not leaving them there.” Got that right.

    These testimonies serve a good purpose, showing your humanity. Over the years, it prevented me from being so hard on myself. I recognized two kinds of sin — acts of sin, and a state of sin. When I reduced the acts of sin to a minimum, I couldn’t shake off the burden of the state of sin, which produced frustration because I didn’t yet (at age 25) understand what was still bugging me. Staying on the Path eventually cures everything. Our individuality is still uniquely the same, but upgraded to be Christlike. Thanks, brother for your honesty.

    Mark

    • Eric Davis

      Thanks Mark. Always encouraged by your comments here.

  • kevin2184

    Wonderful testimony, Eric. Thanks so much for sharing it. The Lord obviously had other plans for you when He brought you to Jackson!

    • Eric Davis

      He sure did. Thanks Kevin

  • Beautiful, just beautiful, Eric.

    When God made me a new creation I too was reading the bible, first time in years. I was trying to find answers for the sin of another when the scripture began to read back at me and it show me my own sin against a Holy God, showed me that I had a relationship with Him alright and it wasn’t a good one. But God..

    Isn’t it gracious of God to plant you/your church in this gorgeous area, among a people with whom you can relate, yet now chance to lead many to Christ. Praise God for your little church in the Rockies, and may He continue to increase your fellowship! Hopefully hub & I will visit someday 🙂

    • Eric Davis

      Thanks Suzanne. Come out and visit any time.

  • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

    Reading these testimonies, I feel overwhelmed with gratitude to be part of this wonderful family that God has called together by His grace. It is humbling.

  • Chrispychinski

    Awesome. So thankful for you, brother. God has used in an amazing way in so many people’s lives. Can’t wait to celebrate Jesus with you in heaven!

    • Eric Davis

      Thanks Chris. Grateful for you, brother.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    “It was less of a spiritual experience and more of an intellectual one.

    Beautiful.

    “An evolutionary biologist then suggested that this Creator had revealed himself in the Bible, a book with which I was unfamiliar.”

    Was this evolutionary biologist a theistic evolutionist?
    And are you a theistic evolutionist, Eric?

    • Eric Davis

      TUAD-

      I am a literal 6-dayer all the way. I think the text of Genesis is pretty clear in that regard. And I do not recall if that biologist was a TE’er or not.

      • Truth Unites… and Divides

        Nice. I like it when a former evolutionist repudiates evolutionism.

  • dave

    Eric, thanks for sharing your testimony. It’s encouraging to hear how the Lord got a hold of your heart. Press on my friend.

  • Brent Johnson

    Awesome! The work of our great God on display in you is encouraging in a time when it’s very needed. Soli Deo Gloria! (even teared a little)