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Atheist Says Meeting Jesus Like 'Waking from Sleep'

Joy Davidman was a Jewish American atheist poet who as a young woman became a communist to satisfy her thirst for justice. She married a fellow writer, Bill. (After Bill’s death she married C.S. Lewis.)

At one point she said, “Of course, I thought, atheism was true, but I hadn't given quite enough attention to developing the proof of it. Someday, when the children grow older, I'd work it out.” But between marrying Bill and meeting C.S. Lewis, Joy met Jesus.

Bill was a workaholic, an alcoholic, and unfaithful. One day he called Joy from his New York office and told her he was having a nervous breakdown. Then he hung up. There followed a day of frantic telephoning. By nightfall Joy recalls, there was nothing to do but wait and see if he turned up, alive or dead. She put her children to sleep and waited. And in that silence, something happened:

For the first time in my life, I felt helpless; for the first time my pride was forced to admit that I was not calm after all, the master of my fate and the captain of my soul. All my defenses … all the walls of arrogance and cockiness and self-love behind which I'd hid from God … went down momentarily, and God came in … There was a person with me in that room, directly present to my consciousness—a person so real that all my previous life was by comparison, a mere shadow play, and I myself was more alive than I had ever been; it was like waking from sleep.

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