Romans 14:8 (NIV)
8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Christ is the gain we aim at, living and dying. We live to glorify him in all the actions and affairs of life; we die, whether a natural or a violent death, to glorify him, and to go to be glorified with him. Christ is the centre, in which all the lines of life and death do meet. This is true Christianity, which makes Christ all in all. So that, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's, devoted to him, depending on him, designed and designing for him. [Matthew Henry Commentary]



Nicole Cliffe became a Christian on July 7, 2015, after what she called "a very pleasant adult life of firm atheism." "The idea of a benign deity who created and loved us," she writes, "was obviously nonsense, and all that awaited us beyond the grave was joyful oblivion � I had no untapped, unanswered yearnings." But here's how she describes what happened to her:

First, I was worried about my child. One time I said "Be with me" to an empty room. It was embarrassing. I didn't know why I said it, or to whom. I brushed it off, I moved on, the situation resolved itself, I didn't think about it again.

Second, I came across John Ortberg's CT obituary for philosopher Dallas Willard. John's daughters are dear friends, and they have always struck me as sweetly deluded in their evangelical faith, so I read the article. Somebody once asked Dallas if he believed in total depravity."I believe in sufficient depravity," he responded immediately. "I believe that every human being is sufficiently depraved that when we get to heaven, no one will be able to say, 'I merited this.'" A few minutes into reading the piece, I burst into tears. Later that day, I burst into tears again. And the next day. While brushing my teeth, while falling asleep, while in the shower, while feeding my kids, I would burst into tears.

She read more Christian books and every time she cried all over again. She emailed a Christian friend and asked if she could talk about Jesus. She writes:

But about an hour before our call, I knew: I believed in God. Worse, I was a Christian � I was crying constantly while thinking about Jesus because I had begun to believe that Jesus really was who he said he was � So when my friend called, I told her, awkwardly, that I wanted to have a relationship with God, and we prayed � Since then, I have been dunked by a pastor in the Pacific Ocean while shivering in a too-small wetsuit. I have sung "Be Thou My Vision" and celebrated Communion on a beach, while weirded-out Californians tiptoed around me. I go to church. I pray �

[Evan after accepting Christ] I continue to cry a lot. [I read a news article] that literally sank me to my knees at how broken this world is, and yet how stubbornly resilient and joyful we can be in the face of that brokenness. My Christian conversion has granted me no simplicity. It has complicated all of my relationships, changed how I feel about money, messed up my public persona � Obviously, it's been very beautiful. [Adapted from Nicole Cliffe, "How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life," Christianity Today (5-20-16)]