I wrote this soon after I was born again, and even though I realize it could be written better and clearer I’ve decided to leave it in it’s original form.
My name is Justin Obriecht and I was raised catholic and went to catholic church and school until I was in fifth grade. Sometime around then I really started questioning if God was real and what I was going to believe. I saw a lot of ugly things happening in the catholic church and just in regards to religion in general. About the age of 17 I was slowly moving toward becoming an atheist. By the time I was 19 God was completely off my mind and I no longer had a relationship with him in any way. It was a long hard process to no longer think about God when you needed help or when things were tough but I committed myself to being self sufficient. For the next fifteen years I became a very strong and persuasive atheist. Everyday it was my business to punch holes in people’s faith. I truly believed that religion was the most destructive thing on the planet and that the concept of God was psychologically damaging for a myriad of reasons. I could argue religion with anyone and I knew when I was done that his or her faith wasn’t as strong as it was when we started and it made me feel great. I honestly believed I was doing them a service. I tried to talk everyone in my family out of being a Christian. I knew every angle and every argument.
That was until the middle of December 2011. For two months I had a nagging cough that wouldn’t go away. This was very perplexing to me since I was as healthy as someone could be. Eating well and clean, no weed or alcohol for going on 6 months (I never had a problem with either, just fun), biking, yoga, etc…. This coughing culminated on Sunday, February 12 2012 as I was in my car on my way to dinner with my yoga instructor. On that drive I experienced a dull strong pain in my hips. The type of pain you get when you are getting the flu and your bones just ache. Within four hours I was laying in bed sweating but freezing, my tonsils were the size of golf balls, all of my bones ached and I could barely stand up. I went to bed and covered up under a bunch of blankets and woke up around midnight in a pool of sweat. It was clear to me that my fever had broken. The next day I woke up, took a step out of bed and felt like I’d been hit by a truck. I barely made it to my car, drove home and fell into bed and lay there all day Monday. I did the same thing until Wednesday at around two in the afternoon when finally I decided that I should go to the doctor and find out what’s wrong. I went to the Walgreen’s Quick Care clinic and found out that I had strep throat. They gave me penicillin and I took two on Wednesday and woke up on Thursday feeling about 20% better. I went to bed Friday night and fell asleep immediately.
When i woke up Friday morning February 17th 2012 the first thing I realized is that I just had the best nights sleep of my life. I always sleep well but this night was amazing. From there I got out of bed and instantly noticed that something was very different. It became clear to me that I felt at least 50% better than any day in my life. Not just better from being sick but dramatically better than any day in my life. I went and put oatmeal on and began to work on my computer. As I was doing this I caught myself daydreaming. At that point I hadn’t daydreamed in about 20 years. After that I went out in the hallway and waited for the elevator on my way to yoga. As I was standing there an overwhelming tingling feeling like something I’ve never felt before, engulfed my entire body for about two minutes. It was the best feeling I’ve ever had by far, The elevator came, I went to yoga and didn’t think too much of it. Over the next couple days I began to notice drastic changes in different parts of my body and mind. The following things are still present as I write this on 5/1/12.
-I found myself day dreaming even though I hadn’t done it in over 20 years.
-Water and my saliva taste as sweet as honey.
-My sense of touch is more sensitive and full in my hands.
-I’m able to throw thoughts out of my mind and only concentrate on things I want to. My whole life this had been the opposite for me. I chew things up for hours, let them bother me and pretty much obsess over them.
-Stress doesn’t manifest itself physically in my body. Things bother me and annoy me but they don’t raise my heart rate or cause me to perspire.
-I’m content just sitting somewhere. Again this is the complete opposite of my life up until that point. I’ve always been busy, wondering if there is something better I could be doing, chasing my own tail.
-I’ve stopped analyzing the conversations I’m in and things are much more conscious now. Making it easier for me to connect with people.
Then on March 26th I’m driving back from Florida early in the morning. I get to Nashville at 3am early on the 27th. I get inside my hotel room and I tell myself that I should really meditate. I decide to skip it and just go to bed. As I pull back the blankets to crawl into bed I catch a look at the clock and it says it’s only 2 AM. I then realize that I’ve crossed into the central time zone and that it’s an hour earlier than I thought so I might as well meditate. I pile up the pillows at the end of the bed close my eyes and begin to meditate. After about five minutes of this I out of nowhere catch myself saying two Our Fathers. These are the first prayers I’ve said in at least fifteen years and I’m very surprised I even remember the words to it. After about another ten minutes I open my eyes and decide I’m going to practice meditating with my eyes open as it’s quite dark hotel room and it’s a good place to practice this. About that time I notice a red light out of the corner of my eye to my left coming from inside the room. I decide to ignore it. Then about five minutes later the light begins to flash and I decide to ignore it for about another five minutes until I finally look over and notice that it’s a night light built into a hair dryer that they specially make for hotel rooms. I start to wonder why is it flashing since these types of lights don’t have on/off switches and just stay on twenty four hours a day (which I confirmed the next morning). I’m also wondering why it wasn’t flashing a minute ago but is now. So after about a minute of staring at this light I get the most intense unique tingling feeling all over my body. Dramatically stronger than the one I felt a month earlier by the elevator. It’s so strong that all of my hair is standing up on end and it feels like I’m getting lifted off the bed. At this point I’m overwhelmed and breathing heavily. This intense burst lasts for a about a minute which feels like an hour and then ebbs and flows for another four minutes. At this point I decide to go to bed not sure what to make of everything. I go to bed with the light still flashing and wake up in the morning to realize that the light is no longer flashing but is on as it always is. I decide I’m going to stare at the light for ten minutes. I do this and nothing happens. I then go and take a shower. I come back out and the light is still not flashing so I intend to spend another ten minutes staring at it before I leave. About a minute into staring at it this second time I get another intense tingling feeling all over my body but no flashing. After about thirty seconds of this it hits me like a ton of bricks that it’s Jesus Christ visiting me now, and it was Jesus visiting me the night before and a month ago. So in my heart I knew what had happened but my intensely atheist mind was scrambling for any other explanation. So I gathered up my stuff and got in the car ready to leave Nashville and head back to Chicago. As I get on the road I’m shaking and crying. I decide to call my mom. She answers the phone I ask her right off the bat with no other discussion “why does she believe in Jesus?”. I never knew this because for my life up to this point it would have been like asking someone why he or she believed in Santa Claus. She tells me that she was raised catholic and that she at some point realized that the catholic church was a horrible institution and so were most of the people associated with it. Soon after this realization she began to be strongly drawn to the bible. She said she read it every spare minute she had for three months. She told me that her strong attraction to this book was a very strong indicator that Jesus was real since she had never been that type of reader or felt anything like that in her life. She then went on to describe to me an experience that happened to her when her and my father was getting divorced. She told me that she was in a hotel room and was staring at the red light on the alarm clock. When she said red light my entire body began to tingle again. She said that as she was staring at this light and all the worst thoughts were going through her head and she was crying and just thinking about how her life was in shambles. About the time she thought she was going to have a mental break down she described in her words “an intense lightness” came over her entire body and made her feel like she didn’t have a care in the world and that everything would be ok. She said that she just knew it was Jesus Christ in her heart and since then it has only become clearer to her as she read the bible and prayed to him. I then told her my story and it left no doubt in either of our minds that God is real and that Jesus Christ is his son and he visited me through the Holy Spirit on three occasions.
Now many people ask me how I can be so sure that it was Jesus Christ. I tell them that the biggest reason and strongest reason is the feeling that I had in my heart. It’s an intangible feeling that I can’t describe. At the time I wasn’t looking for religion or Jesus but when it hit me it was clear. I then point to the completely random our fathers I said the night before, the light that was flashing that has never flashed and will never flash again, the story my mom happened to tell me the next day and all of the desires that have just left my life in the past few years. These include alcohol, weed, all other drugs, I haven’t watched TV in years, I haven’t followed or watched sports in years, I haven’t masturbated or watched porn in about a year, no processed or chemicals in my foods, no pop or candy, etc….. Now I want to make clear these are not things that I quit. The desire just left me. It is now clear to me that he has been working in me this entire time and the reason I think he has done this is so that I can tell others that the way to Jesus isn’t so much about good and bad, immoral and moral and more about removing chemicals and distractions from your life so that you can be present, aware, balanced and sober enough to see the signs and communications he’s trying to present to everyone everyday. In addition to me being a staunch atheist, me not looking for God or religion (the complete opposite), the our fathers, red light, tingling feelings not only that day and night but the month earlier when I felt amazingly different, the call to my mom and her light feeling and red light and the desires that have miraculously fallen out of my life, I also point to the fact that since this has happened I’ve been overwhelmingly drawn to the bible. I’m talking about reading it for three and four hours at a time when my previous sustained reading record was probably around twenty minutes. I also point to the unbelievable things that have happened in my life in the last month since this has happened all the while reading the Bible and praying to Jesus. I think that once you look at everything in its entirety that even an atheist brain as strong as I once had would have to be pretty illogical and irrational to not take a step back and at least consider what has happened here and how your thoughts on God might be affected. I tell people that you can do a one month risk free (actually it would be hugely beneficial God or no God) experiment where you do the following things….
1. Open your mind and your heart to the possibility of Jesus as much as you can. It’s best if you sincerely ask him to come into your heart and life.
2. Read the Bible. If you have to think of it as just a book. Why let the fact that it’s related to God change that it’s still a book. Whether you believe it to be fiction or non-fiction I’m sure we’ve all read plenty of both.
3. Be alert, observant and open to the signs, direction, signals and communications he will send. Be present and living in the moment. The strongest signs will be when you’re alone. It can be alone anywhere.
4. This one is a bonus. Pray to Jesus. You don’t need to know how to pray. Just have a conversation with him. Then trust that he can change things in your life. If you don’t trust him everything else is pointless. I’m living proof that he can make dramatic changes in your life if you trust that nothing is impossible for him.
5. In order to give your life to Jesus Christ you have to sincerely do the following.
A. Admit that you’re a sinner as we all are.
B. Ask Jesus to forgive your sins, which he will if you’re sincere.
C. Give your life over to Jesus Christ. From this point on you’ll do your best but then trust in God. When you worry you’re saying you don’t trust God.
D. Do your best to actively turn away from sin.