God killed his own son? Even as a young child I couldn't believe that. When I was about 16, my best friend Shelly and I would walk aimlessly around Julia Davis Park in Boise, Idaho, where Jesus freaks with their happy faces would approach us.
"Have you been saved?" they'd ask us.
"Huh? Does it look like we need to be saved?" we'd reply. "Do you see us hanging off the side of a cliff by our fingernails? No? Then I guess we don't need to be saved."
"Jesus loves you!" they'd call after us.
But at home I'd secretly open my Bible, searching in vain for something to make me feel better. Those awful years from the seventh to the twelfth grade were the worst time of my life.
At 18 I moved up to the Idaho mountains, got married, and soon after had two children. But not having had a lick of guidance or discipline as a child left me totally unprepared and inept. The marriage didn't last long.
In the summer of 1980 I was a 26-year-old, long-haired, country-hippie girl, divorced a year and living in the midst of wheat and hay fields with my children. The nearest town, with a population of only five hundred, was about thirty miles from our little old house. I was moody and spiritually restless. I also had a habit of smoking homegrown pot first thing in the morning and drinking beer as the day wore on. We were surrounded by the incredible beauty of the mountains, and I remember many times thinking, "The world is such a beautiful place - but what's the point?"
I'd been fighting insecurity and depression ever since I was a young teen and had finally reached the end of my rope. I realized that because I was a mother I could no longer afford to be depressed. My children were two and four, and I could not stand the thought of their being raised by a miserable wretch. For their sake, something had to change.
And so, one sunny afternoon when the kids were taking a nap, I went out in the yard with my Bible and tried again to find something within its pages that would help the world make sense. I opened it randomly and read what basically said, "God loves us, but he doesn't love them. He told me to go kill them. So I did. In fact, I wiped out the whole village, including the children. Now God is pleased and I am blessed."
"This is it?!" I wailed. With hope dashed to pieces I closed The Bible and started crying. "Now what?" It was then that I had my first real talk with Jesus. I remember it well. Sitting there in the grass with tears streaming down my face, I looked up to the sky and pleaded:
"Jesus, are you real? Please be real, because I don't know what I'll do if you're not! I kind of think you might be real because people still talk about you after all these years. Please - if you are real - I need help. I need answers. Can you give me something that makes sense? This Bible just doesn't cut it for me."
The next day, out of the blue, my ex-husband Craig came by and said he would take the kids for the weekend. This was unusual because for the past year he had been a very busy boy - busy partying and dating, that is, trying to fill the emptiness in his own life. Not often had he given up a weekend to relieve me of child duty.
So, whoopee! It was my turn to kick up my heels! I could hardly wait to get to town and dance my frustrations away. I prettied myself up, threw a six pack of beer in the car, and headed for The Ace Saloon. On the way there I guzzled at least three of them beers to give me the confidence I needed to walk through the door.
Back then The Ace Saloon was a happening place - noisy, stinky, smoky, and with a whole lot of slurring, stumbling drunks whooping it up. I made my way past gangs of cowboys and loggers and found a place at the bar. There I downed another beer or two and soon found myself engaged in conversation with a woman who seemed ill at ease and out of place.
Did I say "engaged in conversation"? Actually, we were yelling into each other's ears trying to be heard over the barroom din. She turned out to be a proper Nazarene who, on the street in broad daylight, probably wouldn't have bothered speaking to a heathen wench like me. I doubt I would have spoken to her either, had I not had a belly full of beer. I surmised that her only reason for being there was to keep the hussies from pawing her handsome husband, the singer in the band.
She didn't know it, but she was instrumental in changing my whole life. With the band playing loudly and the crowd babbling uproariously in the background, this woman for some reason blurted out an invitation to a "Urantia study meeting" at her home the next evening. She quickly added that she had nothing to do with it - it was her husband's deal.
I couldn't have cared less whose deal it was because I didn't know what the heck she was talking about. I remember making a smart-aleck remark about the name Urantia. "U-a-rancha? I thought y'all were farmers! Ha!" Then I was off to the dance floor to stomp and wiggle with the rest of the inebriated natives.
I probably slept most of the next day, but with the kids still at their dad's house I had one more evening of freedom, and no way was I going to waste it. So I showed up at the Nazarene's home for the "ranchers" meeting, not having a clue as to what it was about, just wanting to fill what would otherwise be a boring and lonely evening.
I think there were about five people plus me. The woman who had invited me stayed in another room the whole time. She meant what she'd said the night before about it being her husbands deal. She obviously wanted no part of it. Her husband began to read from either "Religion in Human Experience" or "The Real Nature of Religion."
All it took was one paragraph and I felt tears come into my eyes and my heart beat faster. I probably had a stunned and stupid look on my face, too. As he continued to read I became completely overwhelmed. It was all I could do to keep from dropping to the floor in front of these people and crying out loud to God. I sat with my hands in my lap, not uttering a word - but inside I was a blubbering mess. "This is the truth! You've answered me! You're real!"
The next day when Craig brought the children back to me I piled them into my orange Toyota Corolla and drove the hundred and fifty miles to Boise so I could find a Urantia Book. I didn't care how much it cost. I would have sold the car to pay for it. I found it in the second bookstore I checked, then drove right back home and began devouring it as if I'd been starved.
God became a reality and life finally made sense. I could begin to understand what it was all about and where I fit in. I had answers and no longer needed pot and beer. The world became enchantingly new again just like it was when first discovering it as a child. Yes, I finally understood what those crazy Jesus freaks meant when they said "born again." I was one of them.
And that's how my new life began. I'm grateful to the angels who've guided my footsteps. Over the years I continue to say "thank you" for this gift of revelation.