I look back at my life having fun, joking around with the guys, playing and working with my horses, lazy and hot days lying on the beach, the sound of the surf and the crashing waves still clear in my mind. Friendships forged, some forgotten and laid aside. Then as I got older, learning about drinking and sex and not joking around with the guys so much; life got a bit more serious. But still fun. I was enjoying my freedom on the fast track.
One of the supervisors where I was working asked me to lunch one day, I was thrilled and excited. I thought I knew what he was up to, and figured why not? He’s a good looking guy, let’s party! So off we went. As we ate, I kept thinking to myself, “Is all this guy can talk about is Jesus?” I was confused. Where was the party, the daring, the fun? Where was the drinking on company time with a supervisor? Crushed, I was looking forward to finishing work with a buzz on. But for some reason, I was actually listening to and contemplating what he was telling me. Before we left, he gave me some little cartoon pamphlets, he called them tracts. “Here”, he said with his charming smile, “they’re free!”
That night I thought I’d look at his silly cartoons. They held my attention and little did I know that a seed of faith was sprouting in my spirit. In my party days, I certainly was not environment-conscious, or consequence-conscious. But one of those cartoons, one of those tracts featured a solitary tree with a tiny fence around it as a museum piece and neighborhoods with numbers on their roof tops. For some reason, this really spoke to me and I was certain that the cartoonist had captured the world’s future quite accurately. For the first time I was thinking beyond the next party, or what should I wear and I was considering the future and the possible consequences of my actions.
Sometime later he and his friend Nadji asked if I’d like to go to church with them. Church? Seriously? But for some unknown reason, I said yes. I mean, what else was I going to be doing on a Sunday morning other than recovering from the night before? One thing led to another and next thing I knew we were attending bible studies together, hanging out and having clean fun, something very new to me. One of the Sundays that we went to church I answered what they refer to an “altar call”. The pastor asked at the end of the service who would like to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. My heart was beating so fast, but I tried to look cool about it. I raised my hand and came forward when invited to. The experience was something that I will never forget, nor want to. I accepted Christ into my heart, acknowledged that I was certainly a sinner and needed a Savior. I prayed “the sinners prayer”. I realized that I had been empty for some time, trying to fill an unnamed void with drinking, friends, smoking, loud parties and music. I remembered times while driving, when I’d see a family heading to their destination, being wistful, wishing I too was sharing the holiday with a car full of family. The parties I attended, no one noticed the mask I hid behind and left me empty.
One Christmas, when others were sharing with family, Nadji and Frank stopped by. Nadji gave me a Bible as a gift, it was called The Way. I still have it, all marked up, pages falling away from the binding, notes in every available margin written in 6 point perfect-Catholic-school penmanship. It is still my favorite Bible and I have several of them by now. I devoured that Bible, I could not get enough of it! It was exciting, illuminating, enriching, and fulfilling. I was introduced to Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit in that Bible. I read it like a desert-starved refugee. I read it during breaks at work. I read it while at home. It was my comfort on the wide-awake nights that were previously alcohol-hazed. I inhaled the words as if they were the world’s best plate of brownies.
I live life unselfishly with care, with love, and with non-artificial joy now. That is not to say I no longer have difficult times, threats to my mortality, or seasons of mourning and sorrow. Life continues to happen. In fact, I am in mourning currently. We lost three grand babies this week. But I have my God to console me in the deep recesses of my heart that no one else could ever reach. I have my God to direct my words as I reach out to my son and his wife in their deep, shattering grief. I cried out to Him for care, tangible care and He responded. I laid in bed last night feeling held, needed, reassured, safe, and very protected. When I woke the following morning, my bed was unrumpled, smooth as if I had just made the bed, evidence of a very sound and comfortable sleep. To me, evidence that He held me throughout the night, comforting me and giving me the deep rest that I needed.
I choose not to dwell on the “what if’s” life brings, nor on my past. Because when I accepted Jesus as my Savior, miraculously I became a new creation. It says so in the Bible. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” Sure, sometimes there are physical consequences for the things we have done in the past, but we pay our dues and we can move forward with confidence when we have God Almighty at our side.
I remember my mother coming to me, sitting on the edge of the bed, wanting to know this Jesus that had so radically changed my life. I was shocked, mother didn’t come to anyone for help or advise. Apparently she’d been noticing the changes in me and knew that this had to be the real deal, a “deal” that she wanted as well. The thing is, none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. My mother died not long after receiving Christ, about a month after praying the sinners prayer. As I drove to take care of funeral matters, I saw the sun rays breaking through the clouds and thought, “Oh, thank You, God! Mother finally knows what real worship and joy is!” That thought was and still is, a great comfort to me and has gotten me through very difficult times. If she had not asked Jesus into her heart, into her soul? I would be without comfort because God, in His infinite perfection, is a just God. She would be in extreme pain, gnashing of teeth, perpetually and for eternity in an unquenchable fire of damnation. Only He knows the number of opportunities He had given my mother to come to Him, and if she had not seized what turned out to be her last chance, she’d be rotting in hell right now. For forever.
I may not personally know you, but I care about your eternal destiny. The Lord wants as many people, as many souls as are created to share eternity with Him. 1 Timothy 2:4 “(God) Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” He desires that no one perish, but have eternal life.
If you don’t have a Bible, but are able to read this, then you have no excuse. The internet carries the Bible. Come join the family, you are welcome here! Don’t put it off, you may not get the privilege of a tomorrow. Stuff happens.
Want more information on what a “sinners prayer” is? Click here! http://ow.ly/kSqSd