Because He Lives: My Easter Testimony
By Brad Lindemann
Spring time anywhere is special, but this time 40 years ago, it barely felt different from the bitter winter. During the spring of 1975 on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, I was heavy laden with academic pressures and post fraternity pledgeship depression. My relationship with my girlfriend found me exhausted and gasping for air by early April. I had all the spring air I could inhale, but I needed something more.
Then, I met Tom who showed up at my frat house during dinner one evening with an Olympic champion wrestler in tow. I can’t remember what he said that prompted me to join them in the living room after dinner, but I’ll never forget how he got my attention. He recalled a time during his college days when some of his friends started behaving rather strangely. Claiming to have found God, they stopped doing “typical college things” and started acting all religious.
Tom sensed that he needed more than a change in the weather, so when school let out for spring break, Tom jumped on his motorcycle, kissed his mother good-bye and set out for Colorado, hoping to clear his head. Something wasn’t right in his spirit and Tom had a growing sense that his friends may have found what it was. He said that he had not gone looking for God, but rather God seemed to be looking for him.
So, on a mountaintop in the Colorado Rockies, Tom looked up at the starlit sky and said, “God, if you’re real and if you want me to know you the way my friends do, then I’m all ears. If not, then please go away and leave me alone.”
God accepted that invitation, and Tom’s life changed so radically that upon graduation a few years later he joined a campus ministry organization called Campus Crusade for Christ. His first assignment was on the campus of Indiana University amongst the fraternities. After sharing his Rocky Mountain High story, Tom asked if anyone would like to meet one-on-one the following week and I quickly accepted the invitation. Maybe he would have some insight into my disquieted spirit. Maybe he could help me understand why I felt so empty while living a life that seemed so full.
When Tom and I met, I felt at ease and drawn to his dynamic personality. He quickly sized me up, and then eased into a conversation about spiritual things and introduced me to a small booklet called The Four Spiritual Laws as a guide. As he explained things in a way I’d never heard them before, I started to realize that I knew about God, but I didn’t really know Him.
The booklet starts out by saying, “Just as there are physical laws that govern the physical universe, so there are spiritual laws that govern our relationship with God.”
That eminently made sense. Laws like gravity and inertia exist and don’t ask my permission or seek my consent. It also made perfect sense that God’s spiritual laws would rule and exist completely independent of me.
Tom shared about sin, Jesus and my need for a reconciled relationship with God. The message that God loved me and wanted an intimate relationship was the news that my weary, worried soul needed to hear, and on April 13, 1975 in room 18 of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house on North Jordan Avenue in Bloomington, Indiana, I prayed that God would forgive my sins and begin an intimate relationship with me.
Lightning didn’t flash and thunder didn’t boom, but my life was radically transformed in that moment. Though my circumstances hadn’t changed, my heart had. In a very powerful way that words can’t express, Immanuel—a type of nickname that the Bible records God giving himself, and means, “God With Us” was with me too. And, as promised, He’s never left me.
40 years later, I’ve doubted just about everything else at one time or another, but since that fateful spring day of my freshman year in college, I have never doubted the powerful presence of the Living God in my life. (Like my glasses, I’ve wondered where I last set down that powerful presence, so to speak, but the older I get, the more I learn that if I’m not feeling Him, it’s not because He has left me.)
Four decades later, spring air is once again warming the corn fields of Indiana as the church of Jesus Christ prepares to sing its annual Easter anthem, “Because He Lives.” For me, it’s my 40th annual reminder of how my need is so much more than spring air, so much more than earthly stuff. I need resurrected, spiritual life…life abundant. And, because He lives in me, that’s just what I have.