my testimony

May 24, 2005 Posted by Frank DeRemer, Ph.D.

Each is Special

God woos each of us in the particular way each of us needs. Here is my special story.


I was raised in a Christian home. Mom was a Pentecostal; dad was a (Southern) Baptist. That discrepancy generated some sparks of religious disagreement! At age 7, I walked down the aisle of my dad's Baptist church and "gave my life to the Lord". (The Pentecostals were too much the "poor white trash" for me -- too expressive, too unsophisticated, so I preferred my dad's church.)

I attempted to live the Christian life all through elementary school, high school, and into my junior year of college -- even well away (1500 miles) from my parents. I found it easy to believe that God exists, that Jesus was/is His only begotten son, and that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and rose again to demonstrate that he was "God with skin on".

Giving Up on God

During college I kept hearing people say they had a "personal relationship" with God/Jesus. I knew my own was, for some reason, a dry, impersonal, head-knowledge relationship. I kept trying to find or achieve that personal relationship every week in church, but to no avail. Finally, I prayed, "God, I have, according to your Word, sought but have not found, and knocked but it has not been opened to me. It seems to me the ball is in your court, so when you need me, look me up."

I made that prayer in church, and with that, I basically stopped pursuing God and began to try to figure out my own way in life by myself.

12 Years Wasted

The only significant regret of my life is that the next 12 years were largely wasted and misdirected spiritually (while prospering professionally). I began to look to people to tell me how to live, trying on secular humanistic philosophies and psychology. I got married, but that lasted only two years. I lived with another woman without the benefit of marriage, and that also lasted less than two years. I slept around.

And during this period, although I loved children, I knew I didn't want any of my own, for I knew I had nothing to offer them in the way of understanding and making the most of life, even though professionally I had been very successful. Fortunately, no children were involved.

I had a Ph.D. from arguably the best engineering school in the world (M.I.T.) and was a world-renowned professor of computer and information science at U.C. Santa Cruz, with invitations to attend or teach at professional meetings in Europe, the U.K., and the U.S. Students from Germany and elsewhere applied to do graduate studies with me, and undergraduate students gave me glowing teacher evaluations.

But I felt that my life was a wreck, mostly due to the devastation of two broken relationships with women.

After the broken marriage, I went back to church -- I knew where to look! Again I heard people talking about a personal relationship with Jesus, but I just couldn't seem to get it. Again I decided they must be doing a "head trip" on themselves, so again I stopped searching. Then the second relationship with a woman ended and I was devastated yet another time -- and went back to church again. Insight, Finally.

This time I found a (Pentecostal) church in which the people were very loving among themselves, toward me, and toward their God. I got to thinking about my relationships with the two women. It occurred to me that, although both had left me, it could easily have been the other way around: neither had been committed to me, and I had to admit, I had not been all that committed to either of them.

Then it dawned on me that likewise I was not really committed to God. Being honest with myself for the first time in this area, I realized that when I had "walked down the aisle" at age 7, I had not given my whole life to God. I had heard too many horror stories from missionaries raising support money about how awful it was in Africa: squalor, disease, poverty, etc. I knew I was "worthy" of better that that! What a waste of my own life that would be!

So, I was really only giving my Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, and Wednesday nights, to the Lord, and I was agreeing to try to live by Christian principles, i.e., according to the Book (the Law). But I was keeping for myself the right to determine my own career. I had walked down that aisle partly because I knew that my parents wanted me to do so, and because I knew I "should". And to keep from admitting to myself that I was retaining the choice of my career, I had to suppress that and act like I was really ready to be totally obedient and let Him choose. No wonder I had never found that personal relationship with Him! I had always had a stiff arm between Him and me: "No, thanks; I'll choose my own career, thank you very much!"


With that insight, and the sense that I had been a particularly bad manager of my life, I surrendered it all to God this time: "Here I am God. I am Yours, all of me. I am even ready to be sent to Africa, if that is where you want me." And wouldn't you know it? Faithful God immediately gave me that personal relationship I had so long been desiring, along with a very fulfilling life from there onward. (Not being a missionary to Africa, by the way, but rather using the aptitudes and talents He had given me. It seems that, professionally, I was on a good track already, as I had simply been following my own desires and instincts. And now I could also benefit from His direct guidance.)


I hope you, the reader of this testimony, can benefit from the lesson I learned. It is not that God is a cruel taskmaster, wanting to deprive us of fun in life. I know now that He always wanted a personal Father-son relationship with me much more than I ever did with Him. And I know that He is far more competent than (you or) I at knowing how to make the most out of our lives and giving us the most fulfillment in life: "life abundantly", not to mention heaven hereafter. I was rebelling -- stiff-arming God, and I paid dearly for it. Twelve wasted years, when I could have been in His arms -- no, more than that, for I wasn't in His arms even before I walked away from seeking Him.

If you too are not enjoying a personal, Father-child relationship with God, please, please, take the time and effort to think through the reasons, and ask His help in the process. Your story is, no doubt, different from mine, but He is faithful to work with you to sort out your issues as He did with me, "for God so loved [you and me] that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever [of us] would believe in Him would have everlasting life" -- that is, life both here and now, as well as hereafter, in His loving, capable, faithful arms.


P.S. After coming back to God, and accepting His Word, the Bible, as authoritative in every area of life, I found that I felt very much a victim of the (secular) humanistic philosophies that I had followed for a while. I had "been had". You see, the world looks different when viewed from a Biblical perspective or worldview, as opposed to a humanistic worldview. It is still all the same data and hard facts, but the interpretation of those facts is radically different. An example is the area of our origins: the geological and biological facts are the same, but the interpretation is different. Both views involve assumptions. Both views are thus equally religious. And both interpretations involve scientific methods applied to the same data, thus are (or can be) equally scientific.

The two interpretations are different because of the radically different presuppositions. The humanistic assumptions presuppose the non-existence of God. The Biblical assumptions are provided by God in His special revelation, the Bible. The choice one must make is whether to believe the infallible God and accept the presuppositions He has given us, or to believe fallible, sinful men and their presuppositions. Not knowing God, one is inclined to think, "all those impressively smart people can't be all that wrong", but knowing God causes one to believe Him and know that He knows much more than all people put together. I hope that you, the reader, will come to know God intimately, if you do not already.