As a child I remember that attending the Baptist Church in Arnold, Missouri was a regular part of my regimen. And I remember too during those years that I consistently heard the message of the gospel, the good news or glad tidings of salvation via faith in Jesus Christ. However, hearing the good news and embracing the good news personally were and are two very different things. Thus, upon arriving at my teen years I had heard a lot about God but I did not know Him. I did not have a personal relationship with Him via His Son, Jesus Christ. Not having a personal relationship with Christ, I had not experienced spiritual regeneration (what is often called being born again) through Him.
Thus, at the age of 15, not having a personal relationship with Christ, I ran away from the godly upbringing I had experienced. Though I knew that God was calling me to experience the wonders of salvation via His Son, I chose instead to follow a path of my own making. Mine was surely not a unique choice, as so many run from God, but for me personally, as is ultimately true for all of us, the decision was a very costly one. The pleasure that one experiences in the realm of sin surely has its limitations, as that pleasure is but for a season. Pleasure soon turned to bondage, including the bondage of an early stage addiction to alcohol. The realm of sin was so blinding that I even succumbed to embracing the view that there was no God. Obviously, my choice to reject God and do things my own way was a very unwise choice as my life. For a life without God is one without His peace and joy, one void of experiencing the blessedness of knowing His plans and purposes for our lives.
During this period of bondage I began searching for answers via philosophical questions: What is the meaning of life? What is the purpose of life? Such questions occupied much of my focus. I began writing a book entitled The Mirror in which the main character (a thinly disguised version of me) discovered the meaning of life and shared it with others, but I never finished it. The reason for that was I did not really have a clue as to what the meaning or purpose of life was. So I stumbled on through this period of darkness, often exhibiting a carefree demeanor on the outside, but void of real peace or joy on the inside. Then something began to change.
Not knowing then that it was the Holy Spirit who was at work in my life, He revealed to me that my choice to reject a belief in God was a gravely mistaken one. So, I came to know there was a God but I did not know who this God was. But I kept searching, albeit not via churches as I still wanted no part of what had been a part of my regimen during my early years. The bondage of an early stage addiction and the ever decreasing pleasures of sin served as catalysts in my search for answers and deliverance. A purposeless life, one void of having a relationship with Christ, was not a place I wanted to stay, but I did not yet know that a relationship with Christ was what I needed. However, that would not remain true.
Still not willing to give churches a try, I was asked to be a pall-bearer at my aunt’s funeral at Helitag Funeral Home in Arnold. There a local minister spoke, actually my Mom’s pastor, a guy who had not seemed to be bent on hounding me as so many of my Christian relatives had over the years. Armed with the knowledge there was a God, that is where my search for meaning ended and my personal relationship with Christ began. The minister shared the gospel with us that day, the good news or glad tidings of salvation via faith in Christ. It was the same message I had heard hundreds of times as a kid, but things were different. I was tired of a life without purpose, a life where the bondage of sin was bringing increasingly diminishing returns. And, when the minister shared the gospel, the Holy Spirit made it clear to me that the meaning and purpose I had been seeking were found in a personal relationship with Christ. Thus, it was that day I embraced the gospel by believing. That was in September of 1978.
It is now August of 2015. It has been almost 37 years, 35 of which have been alcohol free. During those 37 years (as a part of a local church) I have known plenty of trials, so many of my own making. Yet Christ in my life has fulfilled His promise to believers to never leave nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). He has continued to reveal Himself to me, mainly through His word to us, the Bible. He continues to reveal to me the purpose I so long ago sought. He continues to bring deliverance in my life by giving me insights as to living a godly life.
Have I arrived at perfection? Only someone bound by delusion would answer yes to such a question, as I understand there is much about me that still needs to change. Sometimes I am too crabby. Sometimes I am not loving enough. Sometimes I am not sensitive enough to the pains, hurts and trials of others. Yet, please forgive me for my shortcomings and remember too that He is not done with me yet. And, if you know Christ as Savior, may we embrace and encourage one another on this blessed journey.
If you don’t know Him as Savior, please take a moment where you are and offer this heartfelt prayer to Him, “Father, I recognize that I need to have a relationship with Your Son, Jesus Christ. I believe that He came to earth, lived, died and rose from the dead. I now confess Him as my Lord. By Your Spirit lead me that I may grow in Your ways. In Jesus’ name, amen.” If you prayed that prayer and do not have a local church of which you are a part may He lead you to one. Welcome to the family of God. May we hereafter encourage one another in this miraculous and blessed walk with Him.