Brent Mayes, M.D., was the second of three children born into a middle-class Christian family. His parents were high school sweethearts from families with strong Christian ties dating back many generations. Brent professed faith in Christ at six years old and was baptized. Yet he said, "I can't remember what I felt or believed about Christ at that early age, but no doubt my declaration of faith was offered more because it seemed expected than because of any real relationship with Christ."
Brent searched for God even as a youngster and prayed for Him to reveal Himself. "From early childhood I've been convinced that the essential truth of life centers on the existence or non-existence of God. If God exists, nothing else matters. If God does not exist, nothing matters. My problem was, I could not decide whether God existed." Brent periodically read the Bible, but he didn't sense God's presence.
The nagging question of God's existence remained, as Brent earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Texas. Immediately after that he married his high school sweetheart and went to medical school at Tulane University. Following a residency in radiology, Brent began private practice.
"We wanted for nothing," he said. "We loved each other, had two beautiful children, loving parents, good health, and a generous income. We attended church regularly, and our children were baptized as teenagers." Yet Brent felt spiritual emptiness and guilt, despite the many blessings. His wife shared his feelings. "We discussed the shame of our mutual ingratitude without pinpointing a cure for our problem," he said.
When his mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Brent faced a devastating seven years, as he and his wife cared for his mother during much of her illness. During this time she displayed a simple trust in Christ, and was an ever-present witness for the Lord. "I was amazed at her simple, unquestioning faith," Brent said. "Once I asked her about it. She couldn't explain it, but she said that even as a little girl, she had known that Jesus loved her." He was happy for her, but he couldn't shake the feeling that he lacked the same assurance.
"I continued to read the Bible, and it finally came clear to me that we become children of God on the basis of faith in Him," Brent said. "My entire life I had been looking for proof of His existence before I would commit to Him. I hoped that if I lived a good life, He would love me and reveal Himself to me. Instead, what He required was faith."
Brent's wife started going to Bible studies and developed a deep relationship with Christ. Gradually Brent, too, committed his life and all hope of salvation to Christ by faith. He stopped looking for proof and said, "I believe." Shortly thereafter, his wife was also diagnosed with ovarian cancer. "We believed God prepared us for her illness by calling us to Himself," Brent said. "He had made sure we would be able to face it with Him at our sides."
As he had cared for his mother with the same illness, he knew the life expectancy after diagnosis was short. So Brent closed his practice and cared for his wife full-time for the five years she was ill, until she passed away in April 2003. "She was a continuous reminder to everyone of the grace of God as revealed in the peace He gives to His own in times of great difficulty. I cannot imagine how different and hopeless our lives would have been if we had not known Christ. Life would have been unbearable."
A new phase in life
During this difficult time God changed Brent's heart so that he no longer asked, "Do you exist and nothing matters?" but instead said, "How can I serve you because nothing else matters?"
Following his wife's death, a friend told him about the College of Biblical Studies in Houston. Brent looked it up on the Web, and in the process he found a link to Dallas Seminary. He enrolled at Dallas Seminary's Houston extension.
"I enjoy the living testimonies of the professors as they demonstrate their years of learning and loving God," Brent said. Two years ago God provided a new partner for Brent. He and Fran married in the spring of 2005, and they took the Dallas Seminary Student Tour of Israel and Jordan as their honeymoon.
Today if you ask the retired radiologist what he's doing at Dallas Seminary, he'll tell you he's preparing for whatever God has for him to do in the next phase of his life. After all no one retires from God's work.