When I was young, I didn’t think there was anything more important than sports. I watched it on TV, thought about it during school and played different sports during my free time. My parents had strong moral values but were not religious. We never went to church, read the Bible, or held prayer.
Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Even though we were not a God fearing family, I had a strong belief in God. I prayed before bedtime, when I woke up and often during each day. I remember getting in trouble one time because I went up and down the street marking a cross on people’s houses. I was a mischievous kid, but I did love the Lord.
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding
As I grew older, I started leaning more to the mischief side than the loving side. It was safe to say that I feared dad more than I did the Lord. When I was 14, all that would change. On my way home from a basketball game, a group of us boys were gathered at the back of the bus discussing different things. One topic that came up was religion. I do not recall everything that was said, but I do remember what I heard and felt. A witness rose up inside of me and let me understand that I had just died. The greatest fear anyone could ever feel was running through me and all I can do was try to hide. I didn’t like this new reality. All I wanted was for it to go away. I thought of that experience often but with each passing day it kept getting easier to suppress the fear until it faded from memory. I was unprepared to answer the invitation so I answered it incorrectly.
Romans 1:24-25 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves. Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the creator,
For the rest of my teenage years, I had what I like to call a “Faithless Belief”. Like most people in my community, I believed in God and I believed I was going to heaven when I died. I didn’t understand that belief wasn’t faith, it was only an acknowledgment. I was deceived and I was believing a lie. My theory was that in the grand scheme of things, I was a pretty good person. Under no circumstances did I deserve the lake of fire. I know I wasn’t perfect, but I was good enough. In other words, I was better than most and as long as God graded on curve, or graded according to my standards and not His, I was a sure fit for heaven.
Mat 7:13 Enter ye in the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
As the years passed, I would from time to time get a strong desire to change. I was convinced that I needed to live better. This would last for brief periods of time but I always found myself right back where I started. Many years later the Holy Spirit convicted me again. This time I felt like it was my last opportunity. The things that were spoke to me were frightening. There was a great fear that set up inside of me and all I wanted to do was go home. Much like the night on the back of the school bus, all I wanted to do was hide and for the fear to go away.
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding.
I remember I was so burdened down with guilt. I was afraid to go to work or to even leave my house. I was afraid I would get into an accident and get killed. I knew that if that happened, and I died in the condition I was in, that hell would be my home.
Psalm 34:18 The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
Understanding this, I became extremely concerned for my soul. Fortunately for me, my dad and many of the people I knew were now Christians. It was to my benefit because I asked them a lot of questions and had many discussions with them concerning salvation. To my benefit, they always told me the truth, even when it wasn’t easy to hear. Too often people are erroneously told things to ease their pain instead of the truth. Only the truth can make someone free. During this time, I spent time reading, talking with other Christians and praying. Believe me when I say, I did a lot of praying.
2 Tim 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables
I believed at some point God was going to save me. I knew I was never going to stop until I got relief. Then one day, in the back of an old church house, God spoke to me again. His message was clear. He wanted me to give my hand to the church. This didn’t make sense to me because only Christians were supposed to join. I remember saying, “I have to go”.
I was obedient and started down the isle. It was at that moment, the burdens I was carrying were gone, and the fear had turned to joy. I honestly do not remember walking down that isle. It felt like Angels carried me. It was at this point I understood what being born again was all about. This was the greatest moment of life. By the grace of God, I was a Christian. All of the burdens, worries and fear were gone and Joy had taken their place.
Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.