I. My Life Before Christ
My family lived on a farm, throughout my childhood, which offered a life that was enjoyable. We were close to nature and enjoyed a lifestyle of simplicity. It was safe to leave doors unlocked, so we slept under open windows in the summer time. People entered into each other’s lives in relative freedom.
All was not well, however, in the home in which I was raised. My dad was verbally abusive and expressed little love or appreciation toward me. Consequently, I developed an intense hatred toward him. My mother was the opposite. She tried to compensate for my dad’s emotional brutality by showering me with love that was actually smothering and oppressive. I expressed much love for her, yet inwardly resented her flowery approach.
My parents fought verbally with each other constantly over every issue both major and minor. Their verbal wars were waged both privately and publicly, except while in church or lodge. They were the laughing stock of everyone who knew them, yet they stayed together until death parted them. Just how endured each other is beyond anyone’s wisdom to discern.
Then to compound the unhappiness of my childhood, I stuttered like my dad. All of this built within me strongholds of fear, hatred and contempt toward every person and in every situation. My dad, of course, was at the top of my emotional “hit list.”
It isn’t easy for any child to live under the influence of a verbal battleground. My best efforts, at compensating for this atmosphere, were to adopt my own world of imagination. There, things were peaceful, loving and full of successes that dazzled the imagination. As a result, I often talked to myself and laughed at my own jokes. Naturally, most people avoided me.
All of this is not to say that I didn’t have friends, even from a very early age. Oddly enough, I always had at least one special friend during every stage of my life. Many of them sincerely wanted to help, but the wounds of my hurting heart were far beyond what any human could solve.
Later in life, I discovered the fascinating subject of psychology. It seemed that this art of understanding humanity would bring peace and happiness. However, as efficient as that profession is at finding problems, it could not provide the vitality for life that I so desperately needed.
Believe it or not, I was raised in the church and maintained my involvement even while in the military. I looked for answers to a fulfilling life in that institution, but the results were disappointing. The people involved could only advise that I get professional help. This was never acceptable due to my own pride and lack of funds.
Such was my life throughout my childhood, high school, the military service, college and even into marriage. Getting away from the verbal abuse from home, plus maturity in human strength and wisdom brought about some improvement. But it wasn’t until I was almost 39 years old that a dramatic overhaul, on the inside, took place.
II. Life At Last
In the fall of 1975, I happened to attend a home fellowship. The people I met were peculiar. At first, I could not figure out whether they were gloriously happy or insanely euphoric. They were overjoyed to see one another and, with much gusto, hugged each other. These people also prayed for one another concerning any issue that arose and anticipated the Lord’s answers. Those loving people also sang choruses with a quality of voices that soothed my hurting heart. Every person brought a Bible, which was the only book that was used for teaching. Yet the most astounding thing of all was that those joyous people loved me in ways that I never dreamed was possible.
After attending a few meetings with these joyous people, two things became certain. They had tapped into something that brought them into an abundant life and my heart was completely dead, barren and empty. I had to know if what those people had was real. So in the midst of my barren spiritual state, I reasoned, “If I studied the Bible and found what they have is true, then I could stake my life on it.” God certainly does have a sense of humor, for here I was an unbeliever studying the Bible to “check out” some believers.
One thing was certain. I had to find truth. So I started reading the books of Matthew through Jude and the strangest beliefs arose within me. Thousands of years ago, there was indeed a man named Jesus who walked this earth. This man healed the sick, raised the dead, taught repentance and forgiveness of sins and brought the kingdom of God into this world. He gave his life as the one and only perfect sacrifice for sin, then arose from the dead and now sits at the right hand of God the Father. The sole purpose of all these miraculous acts was so that man might know and posses life.
As the weekly fellowship meetings progressed throughout the remainder of 1975, I cross-examined every person regarding that “Jesus guy” in the Bible. It all seemed impossible to accept or understand, so I challenged every believer. Their confident testimony of what the Lord did in their lives burned places of light in my heart that started the trek from death to life. Despite my arguments, those loving people were overjoyed at seeing me, a lifeless and depressing blob of humanity, demonstrating some signs of life.
Many of those loving people extended the invitation for me to accept the Lord. However, I sternly resisted. My heart was too hard and full of hatred. Why would any person, or being, ever love someone like me? How could anyone accept one so undeserving as I?
Experience has shown me that God doesn’t take much stock in our feelings but reads what is truly in our hearts. On the first Sunday morning of 1976, he revealed his desire for my life. He chose to reveal his heart to me in one of those churches where spiritual things are readily accepted and practiced. During a church service, there was a message in tongues. A man directly in front of me rose to his feet, turned around and gave the following interpretation;
“I knew you before your were conceived in your mother’s womb. I chose you to be a prophet to the nations. So will you now choose Me?”
I will always remember that dramatic moment in time. I remember asking in my heart, “Lord, are you sure you want to take time out from running the universe to be concerned about me? I’m but just a single speck in all the sand of the entire earth.”
God’s silence answered my question so I said, in my heart, “Okay, I now choose You!” Zoom! I felt an immediate and complete relief, on the inside. Everything was totally new. My first urge was to tell everyone what happened. Fortunately the pastor gave an alter call at the end of his sermon. I ran to the front and publicly stated that I now believed in the Lord and accepted His saving grace.
III. Oh How Our God Knows Our Needs
I will never forget something that the Lord did for me soon after accepting Him. He showed me as a four-year-old boy sitting in my Daddy’s lap. I was dressed in pajamas and was refreshingly clean from my bath. Every muscle in my body was relaxed as I allowed my total self to be completely molded to His body. The tone of His voice, and His touch brought unbelievable heart warming peace and completeness to my heart.
All of this was totally unexpected, as I had never had such an experience with my earthly father. But the Lord showed me that he would meet my needs and satisfy the longings of my heart. He became the Daddy I didn‘t have.
We sing a song in praise and worship, proclaiming that all of God’s promises are yes and amen. That is to say that they are straight- forward and certain. So anyone reading this testimony can receive the same salvation as I have shared here. Its like God says in Acts 2:21, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!”