The key to my conversion was God's presence, thrust upon me without warning, without any expectation that any Divine Power really existed, through a door that was not intentionally opened. I often wondered why God would do that. It seemed unbelievable to me that God would reveal Himself to an unholy person rather than exclusively to holy ones. Then I read Richard Rohr's book, Things Hidden. I love to listen to Fr. Richard's -- I have been blessed to attend two of his lectures and to meet him, briefly, in person once -- and I read everything of his that I can lay my hands on.
There, in Things Hidden, I found the long-elusive explanation. "Strangely enough," writes Fr. Richard, "it's often imperfect people and people in quite secular settings who encounter the Presence." Fr. Richard goes on to state that this pattern is clear throughout the Bible. Say what? I have some reading to do!
Next Fr. Richard points out the answer to the question I pose in my book, Blest Atheist: Why would God use an atheist to accomplish the good He wished for others? One answer I suggested in my book is quite convincing (for me) in its simplicity and comes from one of my two favorite books, The Cloud of Unknowing (the other being very similar in content, The Book of Privy Counseling). The answer posed there to the question why God uses sinners to carry out His work overpoweringly simple: "because He can." Fr. Richard points out that as with God's revelation of Himself to unbelievers, God has used the most unlikely and sinful people to do His bidding. The Bible tells of these, too: Samson the seductee, Paul the killer of Christians, and a host of others we could all name.
Let's see: imperfect, sinner, secular, unbeliever, a straying sheep delighting in cavorting in bramble bushes... I am starting to understand. I was a pretty good candidate for God to show up and say, "Whoa, there! Here I am! Follow Me!"
Who can say "no" to that? Now, instead of gaily cavorting in the bramble bushes, I find myself scrambling over difficult terrain along a very narrow path, trying to keep up with those giant-sized footsteps I agreed to follow. Although I no longer determine my own direction, the journey is somehow far more meaningful and pleasurable. I especially like the part about not running about alone: "Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of time [Matthew 28:20]."