I was honored and humbled when Christianity Today asked me to share my testimony in its June issue. And then it hit me: I've been doing BreakPoint for over a year now, but BreakPoint listeners haven’t heard my testimony to. So here goes.
I’m the child of European immigrants; my dad is Greek and my mother is German. I attended a Greek Orthodox parochial school and my family attended the Greek Orthodox church. I remember a day when I was about 10 years old my dad caught sight of the chrome fish on the back of a car. And this, he explained, was from the Greek word ixthys, meaning "fish," because the early Christians used this word as an acronym — Iesus Xristos Theos Ymon Sotir. It stood for Jesus Christ the Son of God Our Savior. It was their secret symbol.
Despite regular church attendance, my Christian faith was essentially nominal. By the time I entered Yale University, I was committed to the life of the mind and the search for meaning. As an undergrad I half-heartedly attempted to divine the meaning of life, with mixed results. I didn't believe that our lives were meaningless, but neither did I settle on any particular alternative.
Following graduation I came up with a kind of answer, involving the symbolic image of drilling through ice on the surface of a lake. It was a vaguely Jungian/Freudian idea that said the goal of life and all religions was to drill through this ice, which represented the conscious mind, in order to touch the water beneath, which represented Jung's "collective unconscious" — a vague "God force" that somehow connected all of humanity.
It was an Eastern and impersonal idea of God, making no particular moral claims on anyone. And how one went about doing any of this was, of course, anybody’s guess.
Because I had received awards for my fiction at Yale, I confidently expected to launch a successful writing career. Instead, after some minor successes, I hit bottom — meaning I had to move back in with my parents and take the only job I could really get, proofreading chemical manuals at Union Carbide's world headquarters in my hometown, Danbury, Connecticut.
But it was there, alone in the belly of a corporate whale, that I would finally consider the question of God. In my misery I befriended a graphic designer named Ed Tuttle, who began to engage me on the issue of faith. I was of course wary of this born-again Christian, but in my pain and longing for relief, I was desperate enough to keep the conversation going. But whenever he invited me to church, I declined.
And then, one night near my 25th birthday, I had an amazing dream in which God spoke to me in what I’ve come to call “the secret vocabulary of my heart.” I dreamt I was ice-fishing with friends on Candlewood Lake in Danbury, Connecticut. I looked into the hole we’d cut into the ice and saw the snout of a fish poking out. I reached down, grasped it by the gills, and held it up. And in the dazzling winter sunlight, the fish appeared positively golden. But then I realized it didn't merely look golden, it actually was golden. It was a living, golden fish. And suddenly I understood that this golden fish was ixthys — Jesus Christ the Son of God Our Savior.
I realized in the dream that he was real and had come from the other side and now I was holding him there in the bright sunlight. And I was flooded with joy.
At work the next day, I told Ed about the dream, and that I had accepted Jesus. And when I spoke those words I was flooded with the same joy I’d experienced in the dream. And that joy has stayed with me for the past 25 years — thanks to Iesus Xristos Theos Ymon Sotir.
I’d be honored and humbled again if you’d like to read the un-condensed version of my testimony. Please come to BreakPoint.org, and I’ll link you to it at Christianity Today.
Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.
BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.
Publication date: June 17, 2013