Bill Hayden- Atheist To Christian — Morning Devotions - Hope 103.2

Bill Hayden- Atheist To Christian — Morning Devotions

“There is more to life than just me. I had to make a dedication of myself for the good of others, ­before God. I felt that strongly.” - Bill Hayden

By Chris WittsTuesday 19 Dec 2023Morning Devotions with Chris WittsFaithReading Time: 1 minute

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The former governor general of this country, Bill Hayden, died at the age of 85 on the 21st of October 2023 after health difficulties, including a stroke. And during his funeral, it was reported that Bill Hayden had spent most of his life as an avowed atheist. At that service, a Catholic priest said, Bill went to God with a clear mind, knowing he was loved by his family and others realising that he was human, he was a sinner, and he will be judged by the same criteria that all of us will be judged.

So here was Bill Hayden who had dramatically changed his views about God after searching for meaning and purpose. He’d been baptised at St Mary’s Church in Ipswich, Queensland, and this is what he had said – “There’s been a gnawing pain in my heart and soul about what is the meaning of life. What’s my role in life? This took too long, and now I’m going to be devoted from this day forward,” he said – “I’m going to vouch for God.” And at his funeral Mass, sister Doyle a lifelong friend and mentor, said Mr Hayden was driven deeply into atheism when his five year old daughter was killed in a road accident. He’d been a committed atheist for most of his life, and yet, she said he was a good man. He remained steadfast in his commitment to serving those in need.

Sister Doyle said that Bill Hayden was baptised not to draw attention to himself, but to remind people to think to remember God. He said –

I shouldn’t have wandered off, he said. I do believe Jesus was such a magnificent man. He suffered for our shortcomings, And Christianity is a religion of love. I couldn’t ask for more than that.

In reflecting on the life of Bill Hayden, I’ve got a feeling that many people are searching for true meaning in their life. The American scientist John Horgan wonders about the point of all the serious study and learning if life will just cease to exist. In the end, he said, our works of science, mathematics, philosophy, art, music and journalism will slip back into the void from where they came. Everything that we’ve thought and done will be for naught.

If nothing about us endures. If nothing is remembered, we might as well never have existed. We’re all looking for this meaning and significance. Leonard Wolfe, who was married to the author Virginia Woolf, was a very successful author in his own right. He made millions of dollars from his writings. He was on the A list for parties. He was known by Presidents, Kings and other important people.

And yet, before he died, he said, “I see clearly that I’ve achieved practically nothing in the world today and the history of the human ant hill during the past 5 to 7 years would be exactly the same if I’d played Ping Pong instead of sitting on committees and writing books and memoranda. I have in a long life, ground through 202,000 hours of perfectly useless work.”

You’ve probably heard of Ernest Hemingway. He was born in 1899 the epitome of the 20th century man. At 25 he sipped champagne in Paris, but at the age of 61 having an all wine, women, song, a distinguished literary career, he chose to end his life, and he left a note saying “life is one damn thing after another.” What did life mean to him in the end? Not very much, it seems. But I have some good news. There is hope. I really like what CS. Lewis says. It’s an excellent description of a good alternative. This is what he said out of his book, Mere Christianity –

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“Look for yourself and you will find in the long run hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin and decay. But look for Jesus Christ and you will find Him, and with Him, everything else is thrown in.”

How wonderful. Many people try different solutions. But there is only one answer. And God has set eternity in the hearts of men, and only he can satisfy the heart’s desire. That’s what the Bible says. The meaning of life is to know God and to enjoy him and to reflect some of the beauty of God as we know him in Christ.

Let’s Pray

I thank you, Lord, for people like Bill Hayden, who discovered later in life that life does have meaning. Despite outward success, we can find true peace and harmony in knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. May that be my experience to know you in full measure today. Amen.