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When God Writes Your Life Story

Novelist Mitali Perkins was raised in a Hindu home, where her father taught his children that God was a divine spirit of love. But when her friend, Clayton, was killed in a car accident involving a drunk driver, Mitali’s eyes were opened to a world of suffering. What kind of God would allow this? She grieved for her friend and put aside God for the rest of high school.

College engaged her in different philosophies and world religions. The first assignment in her humanities course was to read the Book of Genesis. She read it eagerly but was left scratching her head. “Did my Christian friends really believe this stuff?”

During her junior year she studied in Vienna and began reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. A dorm buddy also gave her a copy of the New Testament. Mitali joined a few students in travelling to Russia during midwinter break. As they toured prisons, cemeteries, and churches with their history of massacres and torture she felt overwhelmed by evil. “How could God—if God existed—leave humanity alone to endure so much?”

She writes:

One afternoon, they headed to the world-renowned museum the Hermitage. Again, many of the paintings depicted Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. As our group was about to leave, the museum official pulled me aside. “What are you thinking about so deeply?” he asked in a low voice. I was surprised into telling the truth. “A loving God. Human suffering. How can both exist?” He said, “You are at an intersection of choice. Either you decide that Jesus is the Son of God, or you turn your back on him forever. You must choose.”

When we returned to Vienna, I decided to go to the original source of his story: the New Testament. Soon, I was encountering a Jew with olive-colored skin, black hair, and dark eyes. This Middle Eastern man healed foreign women; he knew what it was to feel lonely and rejected. Oddly, his life and words seemed familiar. I started to realize that most of my beloved stories had illuminated the life of this man. Or was he a man? In the Gospels, he was enraging religious and political leaders by claiming a divine identity. They killed him. He let them. I was stunned.

If he was telling the truth, then this was God submitting to the four enemies of humanity—pain, grief, evil, and death—in order to destroy them all. The Cross was where a loving God and the suffering of humanity could finally be reconciled.

One snowy evening in Vienna, I made my decision. I would follow Jesus as God. I would quietly try to do what he did and said. I wrote to my friend to thank him for the New Testament and shared my decision to follow Jesus.

Bit by bit, I also fell in love with the church, and ended up married to a Presbyterian pastor. In the American church, I still sometimes feel like an outsider. But I know from the Bible that the global church belongs to one person: Jesus of Nazareth, the author of faith, the defender of the outcast, the healer of the brokenhearted. All blood is the same color: Red, like his, spilling lavishly from the Cross at the perfect intersection of human suffering and divine love.

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