I was 20 when I first read the gospels. That was also when I began to form my own thoughts about God and Jesus. Until then my beliefs had been sketchy at best and based on things I’d heard others say. The truth was that I’d never given the subject any real thought.

As I read, most of it was so new that it made little sense. I didn’t understand it, but it drew me in a strange new direction. I couldn’t say I believed it, but I wanted to. Who wouldn’t want to be part of a world where miracles actually happen, where wrongs are challenged, the weak and downtrodden are defended, and love has the last word? Things Jesus said, like, “If you abide in My word … you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” 1 kept me going back for more. I read all four gospels and started over at Matthew.

After several weeks I realized that it wasn’t only my thoughts that were changing. I had been waiting for “truth” to strike me between the eyes, which never happened, but something was at work in my spirit. Each time I would embrace a statement or story, my crude lump of faith would strike God’s love, like flint against iron, and sparks would fly—moments of an odd sort of happiness that was part peace, part exhilaration.

Eventually I moved on from the gospels to other parts of the Bible, and there I found passages that helped me understand what was going on inside. Like the Psalmist and countless others before and since, I had discovered that “in [God’s] presence is fullness of joy.” 2 The apostle Peter went a step further in explaining that heart-to-heart connection I had made with my Creator: “Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” 3

May that joy be yours.

  1. John 8:31–32
  2. Psalm 16:11
  3. 1 Peter 1:8