When I was in my Junior or Senior year of high school, I wasn't the best of kids. Sure, I wasn't the worst of kids, but I definitely wasn't the best... It was mostly about being mischievous, but there was a definite path that I was taking. I wasn't aware of this myself, when you are smack dab in the middle of the morality compass, it is easy to think about the fact that you really aren't all that bad.
On top of that, I knew the Word. My parents were both Christians, I went to church every Sunday, I went to a Christian School, I attended all of the revival services our church held, and I made my way to a Christian Camp in the summer. The Bible was something that I was very familiar with, but I was a hearer of the Word and not really a doer. All of this attendance was mandatory at that particular time of my life, so it was a faulty gauge for measuring my actual spirituality.
There were other things that should have made me aware of this reality, but I was self-deceived. That mischievous, rotten nature, that displayed the destructive path that I was taking, would peek out at every opportunity that it could. And the very first person that saw through all of that "required Christianity" was none other than my math teacher. He had caught me with something that had no business being in a Christian School. He pulled me out in the hall and said something to me that I have never forgotten.
It wasn't really profound or beautifully quotable, but it is the statement that I always use to mark the beginning of God's gracious work in my life. Once out in the hall, away from my peers, he simply said to me, "Matt Harmless, I don't believe that you are saved."
Of all of the things that could have been told to me, this ended up being exactly what I needed to hear. What a gracious God, to bring this analytically thinking man into my life, to brilliantly add up all of the loose ends and calculate all of the variables in my life and deduce, with the same logical mind that was teaching us mathematical proofs, that my faith added up to zero.
Those words rang in my ears for the next few years of my life. At first they seemed arrogant. "Who was he to tell me... ?" Then they were audacious and insulting, but eventually those words proved themselves to me to be true. And it was the sheer truth of those words that cut me to the heart.
It was another three or four years before I was eventually captured by God's extravagant grace, but when I tell the story of my salvation, I nearly always begin there - that moment in the hallway outside of my math class, when my math teacher figured it out and told me the truth. When I look back, I can see so clearly that those words were the first spark in the chain reaction of my own salvation.
Thank you, Mr. Cofer, for being brave enough and bold enough to tell me the truth.