Allan Thompson was a self-destructive alcoholic who had lost everything but his devoted family when he finally hit rock bottom and heard the still, small voice of God beckoning him to a life of hope, joy, and the ministry of God’s Word.
Thompson grew up in Arkansas, Tennessee, and Oklahoma and graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a journalism degree. His desire to become an advertising copywriter led him to New York, where he found a position in broadcast sales. He followed this career to Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Springfield, Missouri. Along the way, alcohol, “cunning, baffling, and powerful,” took hold of his life and was progressively destroying him, his career, and his family. God miraculously intervened, saved him, and instantly relieved him of his reliance on alcohol. Through the marvelous work of the Holy Spirit, God then set out to break Thompson of his dependency on his own self and to bring him to reliance on Jesus alone.
Thompson candidly tells of his struggles with insecurity (which led to his alcoholism), and his continuing struggles with poor self-esteem and other issues even after his conversion. Christians should be able to identify with Thompson’s trials and joys, as he indeed has worked out his salvation “with fear and trembling.” He has experienced what Paul wrote in Philippians 2:12–13: God has worked in him “to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Thompson goes from a man who used the name of Jesus in vain to a man who passionately loves Jesus. Thompson believes God yearns to redeem every person so the love of Jesus may shine from each.
There are only two possible explanations for human existence. We are here by chance, or we are here by design. Physicists, astronomers, and other scientists who study matters of the universe generally accept what is known as the “Big Bang” theory. This theory was first introduced by Belgian Cosmologist Georges Lemaitre in 1927. He called it the “Hypothesis of the Primeval Atom.” In 1949, English Astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle named it the Big Bang. The Big Bang model postulates that the universe began some 13.7 billion years ago as the result of a huge, unexplainable “explosion.” The entirety of the universe was contained in a single mote of infinitely hot, dense energy that instantly expanded and continues to expand. Before the explosion there was nothing—no space, no time, no matter, no energy—nothing. A whole lot of something came from nothing. With as many as 400 billion stars in our own Milky Way Galaxy, and with perhaps 400 billion galaxies (that scientists believe could exist), the universe’s magnitude is virtually beyond human comprehension. The Milky Way is 100,000 light years in diameter and the distance to the farthest object we can presently observe in the universe is more than eighteen billion light years. To put this in perspective, the sun is a mere eight light minutes from the earth (about ninety-three million miles). Scientists deal with empirical knowledge. Their methodology does not allow for anything outside the realm of the observable. They have data that measures almost back to the point of the Big Bang, but they cannot explain what caused the Big Bang or how something came from nothing. Without a known prior cause, the universe, to science, remains a mysterious, chance occurrence of unfathomable scope. Based upon accepted empirical evidence, as the universe “cooled” the earth was formed some 4.5 billion years ago. According to scientists, earth was still too hot for life until about 3.8 billion years ago when chemical processes (not fully understood) led to an environment that produced the first single cell life forms. These organisms developed over the next three billion years or so until plants and animals as we might know them came into existence (about 550 million years ago). “Human” types entered the scene some two million years ago, and “modern” humans (Homo sapiens) appeared between 400 and 250 thousand years ago. According to the sciences, Homo sapiens evolved from lower life forms in a strikingly short period of time in the history of the universe and the earth. In this brief time, humans developed consciousness (self-awareness) and the ability for rational thought and reasoned choices. These highly complex attributes separate us humans from other life forms. I find all of this quite unbelievable—if everything began by chance. To me, this chance explanation of the universe is simply irrational. It asks us to accept that something (the universe) came from nothing (the “before” or “outside” the universe) for no reason at all. Therefore, I believe in the second explanation for our existence: we are here by design. Design implies a purposeful plan, intelligently created. This intelligence would have to exist outside the universe, and would need to be larger than the universe, or, at least, different from the universe, just as man is different from his own creations. Those who accept this intelligence call it some variation of a Force, a Higher Power, or God. By definition, God is “the supreme or ultimate reality: as the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness . . . worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe” (Merriam-Webster.com). This definition ascribes a personal nature to God, thus distinguishing God from an impersonal Force or Higher Power. The biblical accounts of God show Him to be a personal being as well. I believe it is the biblical God who created the universe. Setting aside the fact that science has no empirical way to measure the existence of God, the biggest stumbling block to human acceptance of such a Supreme Being is that if such a Being were to exist, He would be supreme Ruler. This would mean that we humans would owe our lives and our allegiance to this Being. We would need to acknowledge that we are not in control: God is. There is nothing more difficult, even terrifying, for us humans than to surrender control. To be in control—and be their own gods—was the original sin of Adam and Eve when they ate of the forbidden fruit in the biblical Garden of Eden. They wanted to “be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). According to Genesis, in Eden, through Adam and Eve, God allowed us humans to freely go our own selfish ways, thus bringing sin, destruction, and death into the world. God could have stopped Adam and Eve from eating the fruit—for that matter God could have chosen not to create the fruit at all. But, without the opportunity to eat forbidden fruit, human free will would be meaningless. God knew Adam and Eve would choose to disobey Him. The Bible says God knows all. Three thousand years ago Israel’s King David wrote this beautiful and profound passage about God’s knowledge. You [God] discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely O LORD. . . . you knit me together in my mother’s womb. . . . My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:3-4; 13b; 15-16)
Allan Thompson, an ordained minister with Declare The Word, Springfield, Missouri, holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield. Thompson, a recovering alcoholic, ministers God’s Word in jails and prisons. He lives in Springfield with his wife, Betty, and their cat, Boots.