University Drop-Out Finds Peace
and Meaning in Life
Originally out for a simple bushwalking holiday, Perth student Graham Barker stumbled into some supernatural encounters during a vicious storm, then had his life turned around after sharing a hot chicken with three young Sydney people he met while sheltering in a mountain hut.
Up to that point, Graham was a fairly normal young teenager - certainly no saint, but managing to stay out of trouble. Well brought up and doing well at school, others felt his future looked rosy, but Graham had reservations. "I felt something was missing", he said, "Sure, I was looking forward to getting an education, a job, earning money, and maybe travelling and marrying, but deep down I couldn't help thinking that there must be more to life than these things, as good as they may be".
The supernatural dimension
Convinced of life's spiritual dimension, Graham became curious. "I read a lot about psychic phenomena, especially ESP, and I had a few premonitions of my own, which fuelled the interest. I also read about mythology, UFOs, and became intrigued with how the universe may have come about".
But did this lead to any religious interest? "Not really", he states. "I saw religions as just boring rituals and restrictions, and too unscientific. For answers to the mysteries of our existence I turned to astronomy and earth sciences".
God, or aliens?
In the tranquil surroundings of the University of WA, Graham studied geology. The more he learned about our planet and the life upon it, the more convinced he became that it was created by a higher intelligence. "The wonders and intricacies of our world all suggested design and planning, not just random chemical accidents. The lecturers had theories of how our world evolved, but thats all they were - just theories". Graham didn't have enough faith to believe these theories, and his thoughts kept turning to the idea of a creator. But was it a god, or aliens?
After two years at uni, Graham went travelling during the long summer break. He spent several weeks walking and camping in the alpine areas of the Snowy Mountains near Thredbo, and it was here that things happened.
Alone, but not alone
Despite walking by himself, Graham felt he wasn't alone. He was quoted at the time as saying "More and more, I feel that someone is with me". Then one day a vicious storm blew up while Graham was hiking on the Main Range, the highest part of Australia. In the persistent dense fog, he lost his route and became lost.
"It was then that I resorted to praying", Graham reports. "I asked God, if he was there, to show me where to go". Within a few seconds, the cloud that had been hanging about all day suddenly rose, just high enough to free the ridge from fog. "I was surprised, but grateful, as I could now see where I was and find my way to a camping spot near Blue Lake."
A frozen ending?
That night Graham was haunted by fears of hypothermia. With temperatures near freezing, the wind at gale strength, and his tent and sleeping bag more suited to summer weather on the coast, Graham was dangerously cold. He recalls: "This was my first experience of alpine camping. Back then I'd never heard of thermal underwear or goretex, and my only jumper was too thin - the bitter wind went straight through it. When my intense shivering decreased but I was still incredibly cold, I recognised the beginnings of hypothermia and was worried". Still aware of that unseen presence, Graham prayed for survival, and felt a great peace inside. "I woke next morning believing in God. Not only that he could disperse cloud instantly, but that he cared enough about me to stop me freezing to death".
Barbequed chicken gives birth to friendships
Graham learned from his cold experience, and when another storm struck a week later he sought shelter in Seamen's Hut. Also sheltering there were three young Christians on holiday from Sydney, who had with them a fresh hot barbequed chicken which they freely shared with Graham. He recounts: "They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Well, this certainly applies to cold hungry hikers! I ended up spending two days with these people, and was impressed".
When asked what impressed him, Graham elaborates: "What really struck me was the way they related to each other, and to me. The friendships between them were of a quality I hadn't seen before - real brotherly love. They were generous and shared what they had with me, and included me in their walks and other activities. It was a good time, and they shattered the myth that Christians can't have fun!"
Graham continues: "When they left, I remember wanting what they had in their lives, other than hot chicken. They had told me about their faith in Jesus, God's son, and in view of what that had done for them, and my new awareness of God, I took them seriously". Returning to Thredbo, Graham happened upon a bible and started reading it for himself.
Things become clearer after chinese dinner
Several weeks later Graham passed through Sydney and made contact with his three new friends. The welcome mat was rolled out, and during a chinese banquet he talked with more Christians and learned more about Jesus, and much became clear. Graham continues, "What I had heard and read could be summed up in a few points", namely:
- God, who created everything, loves us humans and desires relationship with us.
- God's standard is perfection, nothing less, and we have all violated God's perfect standard in some way (its only the degree of imperfection that varies). In our natural state we cannot hope to enjoy fellowship with God, no matter how many good things we do.
- God's laws require a penalty to be paid for our disobedience. Because he loves us, God sent his son Jesus to earth in human form to pay that penalty on our behalf by dying, nailed to a cross.
- Its not enough just to believe in God and know about Jesus (the devil does that, and he's not going to heaven!). If we confess our imperfections, believe in Jesus and invite him into our lives (with a desire to follow his plan for us), then God will forgive our wrongs and restore our relationship with him.
At peace with God
After breakfast the next day, one of Graham's new friends invited him to become a follower of Jesus, or in other words, a Christian. Graham agreed, and from that moment his life changed irreversibly. He explains: "There was no bolt of lightning or anything dramatic, just a brief prayer and not much emotion. But deep inside, I knew things were different. There was a great sense of peace, of knowing where I'm going when I die, and of knowing that the God who made me has a purpose for my life. I can pray and get answers, tap into God's wisdom, and I enjoy new insights into the bible - God's instruction manual for us. I no longer see Christianity as a religion of rituals - its a relationship with God! I still don't know exactly how the universe was created, but I know him who was responsible for it, and that's far better".
The above is about me, the author of this website, and is a true account of how I became a Christian in 1985. A lot has happened since then, but I remain firmly a follower of Jesus and still enjoy that great inner peace I had then, except its stronger now. That peace with God can be enjoyed by anyone who sincerely seeks it.
The four points mentioned above are explained in better detail at The Four Spiritual Laws. I once thought the bible was incompatible with science and doubted its relevance, but not any more - websites such as Reasons to Believe may interest those who think as I once did. Also, the Who is Jesus? site tells how Jesus is so much more than just a Jewish carpenter who met a tragic end.