From religion to relationship - Ulrich Dolder

Ulrich Dolder - From Religion to a Personal Relationship with God

Ulrich Dolder - speaking
Having set aside the religion imposed on me as a child, when faced with a crisis in my life, I found I had nothing but unanswered questions. My subsequent search for truth led me to the Bible and finally to the God I never really knew before, finally giving my life the meaning and answers I had been seeking for so long.

Religion without Relationship

I was born and raised in Switzerland. According to tradition in my homeland, I was baptized as a baby into the state church, attended religious classes, and was confirmed at age 16; however, none of those things did anything to make me someone who knew God at all or had any relationship to Him.

Although I had received some religious education with Bible lessons and readings, the teaching was more "religion" than real truth from God. I did not have a relationship with God. The teaching itself was unclear to me, and as I grew older, I rebelled against it and rejected it.
Bern, Switzerland

Looking for meaning in life...

Many years later when I was in my thirties, the truth finally became clear to me. I was at a point in life when I felt something was missing. Frustrated by struggles in my marriage, I began to recognize that I needed something else in life. My difficult circumstances led me to really think, and I came up with three critical questions I could not answer:
  1. Where did I come from?
  2. What am I doing here?
  3. Where am I going?
A friend told me to read three passages from the Bible: Psalm chapters 23, 27, and 31. As I read and reread those verses, I discovered that the words began to give me hope. Realizing I had stumbled upon something with great possibility, I began to explore the New Testament and then the Old Testament in my reading. The more I read, the more I came to realize that God was alive and real and had a purpose for my life.

Finally, the evening came when everything I had been reading came together for me like a light going on in my head. A friend had set an appointment with me to explain God's purpose from the Bible, but he had to cancel at the last minute. I was left alone with my thoughts and my Bible.
Light shining on Bible

Light in the Dark

As I contemplated my ever-present questions and put them against the things I had been reading, my understanding crystallized. That I needed God's forgiveness for many things in my life became clear, but equally clear was my inability to attain that forgiveness in any way on my own. I was deep in sin and needed relief.

I also saw from the Bible that Jesus Christ lived and died to take away my sins. I realized I myself needed to do nothing - and could do nothing-except to receive that fact and to trust Jesus. Not knowing exactly how to pray, I got onto his knees and cried out to God, "I need You! I'm desperate!" I decided to place my trust in Jesus Christ, God's answer for my sin.

God confirmed my decision by the waves of peace that came over my soul and mind at that moment. I could hardly wait to tell someone about what had happened to me! The very next day, I shared my decision and understanding with everyone with whom I came in contact; some thought it strange but others truly responded with interest and amazement at the changes in me.

Meaning in life

Finally the deepest questions which had haunted my soul had answers.
  1. Where did I come from? The God who made everything also made me; God had thought of me before the earth was founded and chose me to be His child.
  2. Why am I here and what is the purpose of my life? That same God who made me and is in control of all history and the future now directs my life. My purpose is to grow to know God more and to become more like His character. I realized that this purpose could not be fulfilled on my own but oly through the power of God's Spirit now living in me. Knowing I have a purpose really makes a difference in how I live.
  3. Where am I going and what will happen to me when I die? In the past, my uncertainty of what death held in store stirred up in me a very real fear of dying. Through the Bible, God showed me assurance and security both for this life and for my future in heaven. The God who made me, chose me, saved me, and now lives within me would secure my future together with Him.