The Atheist and the Sledgehammer

It was after dinner on a Hong Kong evening many years ago now, just before Christmas. I was sitting on the balcony of our apartment in the Mid-Levels of the main island, and looking down over the central business district of Hong Kong below me, known as Central, with the harbour beyond and further beyond that Kowloon and the surrounding mountains, the ‘Nine Dragons’, which is what Kowloon (Gau Loong) means.

The wind must have been blowing to the south because I could hear quite well the noise of the traffic in Central, even in the evening because Hong Kong never shuts down, I could also see trucks, buses an cars moving along in the distance. One of the characteristics of Hong Kong is the ‘buzz’ of its constant energy which I still feel today when I revisit.

Anyway, I was sitting there when an unsolicited thought suddenly came into my head, more of a question really. As I looked at all this busyness, the question flashed into my mind, “I wonder if they ever stop for a moment and ask ‘what is it (all this constant busyness and activity) all for? What is it all about?”.

It was then that I was hit with the sledgehammer, not a real one of course, but it felt like it, for I was faced with the shattering reality that I had never asked myself that question, let alone answered it. In fact, I didn’t have an answer. I realised later that the sledgehammer question was a God-question which for the then longstanding, virulent atheist was quite a shock! That experience, the being violently faced with what was in effect the ‘Why am I here’ question, was the start of a quite short and very uncomfortable journey from hardened atheist to a relationship with Jesus Christ.

The reason I have told all that is because as I look at the Christmas scene around me this year, with all its busyness, frenetic activity, the hurtling from one event to another, often with kids in tow, I find that sledgehammer question coming into my mind.

“I wonder if they ever stop for a moment and ask ‘what is it (all this constant busyness and activity) all for? What is it all about?”

Maybe someone reading this needs to stop for a moment in the midst of all the frenzy of their Christmas, holiday, party, shopping busyness and ask, and better seek to answer, that question-

“What is it all about? What is it all for? Is all this all there is?

That is, as I most reluctantly discovered, the most important question we will ever ask.

The answer is of course, if we peer through the fog of the western 21st century Christmas shrouded in a haze of consumeristic ‘good-time-ism’ we will find that the answer is the Christ. He who crashed into our space-time in that Bethlehem cattle stall in order to die on a Cross so that we can have the life God planned for us, now and unlimited.

From a failed atheist, God’s Blessings on you as you seek to answer, or maybe deepen your answer to ,the ‘sledgehammer‘ question.

hong kong

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