Philip Yancey: God Can Love ‘A Cynical Sneak Like Me’

An excerpt from the best-selling author’s memoir, “Where the Light Fell.”

At a vulnerable time in my spiritual development, I found myself at a Bible college with a 66-page rule book and little emphasis on grace. Other students seemed quite content in the controlled environment. In me, however, the campus culture encouraged more cynicism than faith.

My cynicism gradually softened over the course of my sopho­more year. I found some relief in a new Christian Service assign­ment: “university work.” Four of us male students started visiting a nearby state university every Saturday night with the goal of engaging students in conver­sations about faith.

On our first visit I am dazzled by the plush dorms and student lounges, so different from the utilitarian buildings at the Bible col­lege. Entranced, I study the bulletin boards covered with splashy posters announcing concerts, plays, and other student activities. I want to be one of these people more than I want to convert them.

Strolling through the campus, I notice a group of athletes sitting on a patio. “Where are you guys from?” I ask.

“We’re with the Yale baseball team. How about you?”

“Um, I attend a Bible college down the road, and we came over here to see if anyone wants to talk about spiritual things.” They ex­change smirks. I continue, “You see, in God’s economy …”

“That’s funny,” one of the athletes interrupts. “I didn’t know God had an economy.” His teammates laugh, and blood rushes to my face. I head toward the student center to watch TV.

“Don’t worry, Philip,” my fellow students reassure me when I re­port on my botched attempt at witnessing. “At least you sowed the seed. God’s …

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