When You Don’t Get the Lightning Strike {moment} You Want

{By Michelle DeRusha} (Perhaps you are feeling like the oddball, a man out, on the outskirts, or outside the city gate of God, Himself. This would be for you, for us, for all the misfits looking for God.  Michelle’s newly released book, Spiritual Misfit, delves into this issue and she’s here today to share a little about it.)


I wanted a miracle. Something dramatic and definitive, an experience so obvious I would have no doubt — hardly even a choice — but to believe. I yearned for an experience so life-altering that it would cement my faith forever.

I wanted the road-to-Damascus moment, like the instant Paul was knocked breathless to his knees in the middle of a dusty road, literally blinded by the startling voice of God.

Or the Augustine-in-the-garden moment, when he heard the chanting voices of children reciting a Bible verse and in a heartbeat dedicated the remainder of his life to serving God.

Frankly, I would have been satisfied with a Bob Dylan conversion. “How in the world can Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan for crying out loud, believe in God and I can’t?” I would wonder during my unbelieving decades.

I had admitted to myself that I didn’t believe in God, yet part of me still held out for a miracle. It was senseless, I knew: If I didn’t believe in God, how could I believe in miracles? The answer was that I didn’t, but I still hoped for one. More specifically, I hoped for the lightning-strike miracle of instant faith.

I didn’t want just any old miracle. I needed one that would shake me straight into faith.

I always assumed that if I ever found faith, it would be the result of a near-death experience, an incident involving bright white light. What I got instead was markedly less dramatic. My “conversion” unfolded over a number of years, at nothing short of a glacial pace.

It began with what I’ve come to call the “Why not?” moment, but truthfully, it wasn’t a single moment. Rather, I began to step a tentative toe into faith over a period of months, an exploration prompted by that seemingly simple question: Why not?

I had spent decades asking, “Why?” “How?” “What?” and “Who?” But I never simply asked, “Why not?” I had never considered an alternative, never truly entertained the existence of God as a possibility, was never willing to suspend my unbelief, even for a moment, to see what it felt like. I never gave myself the opportunity, the option, to believe.

And when I did, when I cracked open the window long enough to ask a simple question, it was as if, as C.S. Lewis wrote, “I felt myself … given a free choice. I could open the door or keep it shut; I could unbuckle the armor or keep it on.”

Asking “Why not?” was the moment I unbuckled the armor and let the possibility seep in.

I won’t lie: I would have preferred a lightning strike conversion. It would have been easier, clearer, less fraught with questions and doubt, less hemming and hawing. Asking “Why not?” again and again was akin to experiencing the “still small voice” that Elijah heard. He, too, looked for God amid the drama – in the violent winds, the earthquake and the fire. Elijah didn’t find God in any of those dramatic experiences, but in the “gentle whisper” that followed.

Asking “Why not?” wasn’t what I’d expected. Rather than winds, earthquakes and fire, near-death and white light, my path to faith was prompted by nothing more than a gentle whisper.

Asking “Why not?” was my road-to-Damascus after all. It wasn’t the miracle I desired. But it was the miracle I got.



A Massachusetts native, Michelle DeRusha moved to Nebraska in 2001, where she discovered the Great Plains, grasshoppers the size of Cornish hens … and God. Michelle writes about finding and keeping faith in the everyday at michellederusha.com, as well as for the Lincoln Journal Star and The High Calling. She’s mom to two bug-loving boys, Noah and Rowan, and is married to Brad, an English professor who reads Moby Dick for fun. Her first book, Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith, was recently released by Convergent Books.

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Congrats Dawn@Dawnings! You’ve won last week’s book, Spiritual Rhythm. Thank you to everyone who participated, but we have another book.  (The number was randomly picked with http://www.random.org/.)


spiritualmisfit“After twenty years of unbelief, estranged from her childhood faith and ultimately from God, Michelle DeRusha unexpectedly found herself wrestling hard with questions of spirituality— and deeply frustrated by the lack of clear answers. Until she realized that the questions themselves paved a way for faith.’”~~Amazon

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12 Comments on “When You Don’t Get the Lightning Strike {moment} You Want

  1. Wow! Michelle, I can indeed relate. I would hear of people celebrating their ‘other birthday’ (the day they were ‘born again’), or when filling out forms in certain churches or at retreats, there would always be THAT question: what is the date that you accepted Christ as your Savior? I would feel like such a chooch (NJ Italian-speak for moron) because I had no Cecil B. DeMille conversion experience after 30 some years of thumbing my nose at God, no anniversary date circled in red on my calendar. So cool to read this and see a kindred spirit in your story.

    Many blessings and all the best to you, Michelle, with the launch of your book!!


  2. First of all, I love your comment, Pamela! No Cecil B. DeMille moment, huh? Love that! To you AND Michelle I say, I kinda had that “lightbulb” moment when my brother-in-law visited me with his Pastor one night. I’d always known about the Babe in the manger, but did not know He grew up to be the same Jesus who went to that Cross–I had somehow never made the connection–and I also learned the WHY? of it all. That’s the night I accepted Christ, some 20+ years ago. It was ALSO the BEGINNING of my life as a ‘Spiritual Misfit’…working out my salvation with fear and trembling. Roller-coaster ride of faith. Highs and lows. Certainties AND doubts. Joys and tears. The list goes on, and the journey continues. I wouldn’t trade this long & narrow road for ANYTHING!!!
    Loved this, Michelle. You are the real deal!

  3. Oh my word, I’ve never had to fill out a form that asked for the date I accepted Jesus – I’d be in big trouble with that! You’re cracking me up with “chooch” — that might have to be my new word! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and reflections here, kindred spirit Pamela – I appreciate hearing a bit of your story.

    • Ha ha! It IS a great little word isn’t it, Michelle? Feel free to use it often. I certainly do.

      But beware…folks just may mistake you for an Italian Jersey girl!

      Oh and btw, I forgot to do what the directions said, which was to leave a comment with a way to contact me. pmanners57@gmail.com


  4. Michelle,
    Congrats on Spiritual Misfit!
    The C.S. Lewis quote you include in this post resonates.
    Would love to win your book, but if not, I’m heading for B & N!!

  5. I’ve seen this book all around the internet this week and it looks wonderful! I’d love to win a copy and you can contact me at contact @ leeanngtaylor . com. Thanks!

  6. Love it, I really do. You are popping up everywhere this week. I so enjoyed the scapular story….I am still chuckling about it since I read it yesterday. Love, love love your humor!

  7. Pingback: What's in Store for Us, 2014 in Review, & Link Ups - outside the city gate

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