Let Me Tell You a Story

Let Me Tell You a Story August 16, 2023

The Baptism of Christ–Jan van Scorel / Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons


“Dr. Cameron, I have a question. How do we know that we are on the right side?” While “sides” is a bad way to think about it, I understood what my eighth-grader was asking. He wanted to know how he could have the assurance that believing in the God of the Bible, the Christian God, was correct while he was drowning in an ocean of religious options. As a teacher, I am used to my students expressing their curiosity about what I ate for dinner and my plans for the weekend to what makes people fart and how many skins I have on Fortnite. Once in what feels like a million questions I get the opportunity to gain insight into the profundity of the middle school brain. This was one of those times. How do we know that the Christian God is the true God?

How To Answer?

The class of eighteen 12 and 13-year-olds now sat in silence gripped by the reality of their peer’s question, all of their eyes and thoughts were now transfixed on me as they trustfully anticipated my response. I began to scan through the files in my mind labeled “apologetics” looking for the right answer and method for how to answer this question. Do I dig up the classical arguments like the mind argument or the causal argument? Would this be helpful to a 13-year-old kid? Maybe I go with the pre-suppositional route and argue from the Bible?

Time was moving quickly. I had to make a decision and give him an answer. An answer, for better or worse, that could instantly change this teen’s attitude towards God and Christianity. In the same way that Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy reemerged from the wardrobe back to England, my thoughts quickly reemerged from the wardrobe of my mind and back into my classroom and to my students. It felt like I was gone for an eternity but in reality, only a few seconds had passed in my mental absence. I looked at him and said, “Let me tell you a story.”

Leaving California

When I was six years old, my family moved to southwest Colorado from the great state of California. To reasons unknown to my small six-year-old brain, I began to notice that my dad was growing increasingly angry and absent. My mom did what she could to shield us from the problems that my dad’s alcoholism was causing my family but, to no fault of her own, she couldn’t protect us from it all.

As I grew older I came to understand that my dad was not a Christian and in an attempt to deal with his pain, his hurt, and his search for meaning he turned to alcohol. As I dealt with the emotional and verbal abuse from my dad I tried to do everything that I could to help him know Jesus. I prayed for him. Others pray for him. We talked to him about the Gospel. Nothing worked. He didn’t care. The abuse continued.

Heading Off

At eighteen I went off to Bible college and, as often happens with first-year bible students, I thought I now had the arguments that would convince him to love Jesus. Arguments that he wouldn’t be able to deconstruct. The summer between my freshman and sophomore year, I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with him and did what I could to convince him, all seemingly in vain. He still didn’t care. I left Colorado to go back to college for my second year of college, this time with my new wife, feeling hopeless and defeated. Due to my pride and issues I needed to deal with, I felt as if I couldn’t convince him no one could.

The Impossible Made Possible

On November 5, 2011, my school was hosting a Lecrae concert that my friends and I were excited to be attending. In the middle of this concert, right after Lecrae got on stage my phone began to ring. It was my mom. I reluctantly stepped out of the auditorium in which the concert was being held and answered my phone plugging my other ear with my empty hand as the music continued to blast in the background.

“Daniel, your dad has something he needs to tell you,” she said holding back tears. I assumed that the news was bad and that maybe my parents were splitting up. I didn’t know what to expect. What in the world could my dad have to tell me?
With excitement and emotion in his voice, he said, “Everything is ok. I just had to call to tell you something important.” At this point, I had been on the phone for maybe 20 seconds but it felt like an eternity and like they were purposefully dragging it out and my mind continued to make up things he could have to tell me. “Daniel, I accepted Jesus today.”


From that day on, my dad was a different person. I never heard him raise his voice again. He stopped drinking. He apologized to me for all the pain that he had caused our family. You couldn’t stop him from telling other people about what God had done in his life. He ended up coming to Jesus while he was by himself. He told me that in a moment of chaos “God showed up to me and it felt like he put his hand on my shoulder and told me ‘I am here.’ Daniel, I can’t deny that God exists any longer.” After 50+ years of running from God, God caught up with him. This was just over two years before God would take him home.

My imagination left that small red seat outside of the auditorium at my school and the music faded and my full attention returned to my classroom where my students still sat in silence their imagination returning to the classroom as well. “So, how do we know we are on the right side?” I looked at my students holding back my own emotions and said, “Because God saved my dad.”


I know that it isn’t a philosophical or analytic argument. I didn’t give them 5 structured and well thought out reasons why God exists. God didn’t give my dad a philosophical argument and 5 nicely structured reasons why he exists he simply showed up. The arguments didn’t work when I talked with my dad. No amount of argumentation mattered. My dad needed to experience God for himself. My dad knew that he was on the right “side” because he experienced it. So you want to know how we are “on the right side?” Well then, let me tell you a story.

About Daniel J. Cameron
Daniel J. Cameron holds a Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen and serves as the Bible department head and Director of Spiritual Life at Chicago Hope Academy. He is the author of “Flesh and Blood” with Wipf and Stock in 2016 and currently is editing a volume “Theology, Religion, and The Office” with Lexington Publishers. You can read more about the author here.

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