My 40th birthday is just around the corner! Oh, I’m not talking about my time here on this earth – I’ll turn 65 in January. I’m talking about my spiritual birthday – I was born again on September 3, 1976. Here’s the story:
My best friend from childhood and me reconnected at our 5th High school reunion in 1975. We had gone different dir4ections after high school – Him into the army and, and me into drugs and alcohol. But it was great seeing him, and we spent some time together over the next few days. He did his best to try and win me over to Christ, as he had gotten saved in Germany. But I would have nothing to do with that.
He said he was headed for Florida to check out the beaches there, and he would let me know where he was going after that. In Florida he met up with a school teacher from Iowa, fell in love and followed her back to Iowa. We corresponded with letters, and every time he sent a letter, he included a scripture address. I took the time to look it up, but did not give it a whole lot of weight. This went on for the next year.
In Late July of 1976, he brought his fiancée now out to Massachusetts for a visit. We had a great time together, and he continued to tell me about life in Christ, and I listened, but was not real interested. I was agnostic at the time, believing there was some higher power out there, but not necessarily this Jesus he spoke about, or that I learned about in Sunday school. I was raised and confirmed in the congregational church where my mom was the church secretary. But this born again stuff – it was too much. I was a partier, and was ready to party with all my buddies down there, if there was such a place.
But after his visit, I got a hankering to go out and visit him. I had a vacation coming up, and on the spur of the moment called him and said I was coming to visit. He said great, and I made the 24-hour drive in about 26 hours, arriving on Saturday evening. We partied it up Saturday night, and he said we’d skip church Sunday morning, but he wanted me to go Sunday night with him. Being a guest, I agreed, although reluctantly.
Sunday night came around and we went to his Southern Baptist church. The place was packed out because they had a missionary in for the service. I sat in my seat and listened as this Baptist missionary launched into a fire and brimstone speech, describing what kind of person goes to hell, and whet hell was like. When he was finished, I knew two very important things.
The first one was that I was headed to hell if something didn’t change in my life. He described me to perfection when he talked about those who had rejected Christ and chose to live for themselves. He talked about the fact that just being raised in a Christian environment and going to church was not enough – you had to have a personal relationship with Christ to enter heaven, and I knew I did not have that. I knew I was headed for hell.
The second thing was that I knew I did not want to go there. As he described it, it horrified me to even think about going there. I had always thought if there was such a place, I’d just get together with my buddies and we’d party it up just like old times. But his description of a lake of fire burning me for eternity, worms eating at me constantly, screams and shouts of horror from everyone around me, and no friends, only enemies, had me shaking in my shoes. I did not want to go there!
So when he asked for a show of hands of those who wanted to accept Jesus and avoid hell, I raised my hand. But when he asked those who raised their hands to come to the front of the church, I could not move. I wanted to get up, but was frozen in my seat. So I prayed with them from my seat. On the way home, my friend asked me if I would have gone up front if he had gone with me, I told him about being frozen, and he felt bad he had not taken the lead.
The week went by, and I had to leave on Saturday morning. Friday night, the preacher from that church stopped by the house. We all sat down and he said he saw my hand up in that service, and wanted to know if I would like to ask Jesus into my life. I said yes, I would. He asked me if I wanted to pray, or have him pray and I would follow him. I told him I would pray – I knew what I needed to say after that memorable service. So we bowed our heads there in my friend’s home, and I prayed. I repented of my sin, asked Jesus to forgive me, and to come into my life and be Lord of my life from that moment on. I told him I believed He died for me on the cross and rose again to give me eternal life. As I prayed, a cold sweat came from inside me, soaking my clothes through. It was an incredible experience, and I knew something had happened to me. Then I thanked Jesus for saving me, and ended my prayer.
I left the next morning to make the 1500-mile trip home. All the way home, there as a vibration in the front of my car, but I sped along, figuring I’d get it fixed when I got there. And I mean sped. I always drove as fast as a dared, and I wanted to get home. I arrived home Sunday afternoon, and stopped in to my favorite gas station, where the owner was my mechanic. I asked him if he could take a look at my car, so he hoisted it up. After looking, he tuned to me and asked where I had just come from. I told him Iowa, and he just shrugged his shoulders. He said I had a broken tie rod. I asked if that was bad, and he said I shouldn’t have been able to drive to the garage, much less 1500 miles.
I started back to church in my old church after that, and to this day I am serving the Lord. 40 years have gone by since that amazing turn of events, and I still remember it like it was yesterday., I am so grateful to God that He sought me out gently and lovingly, giving me the time I needed to make that decision for Him. He didn’t push His way into my life, didn’t force me to believe, and didn’t punish me on this earth because I did not believe. He just loved me.
He loves you too. Perhaps you have never said that prayer. You’ve been raised in a church all your life, but have never developed a personal relationship with Christ. The rewards are great if you would take that step, that greatest reward being heaven itself. The penalty for not doing it is dreadful. Both are eternal decisions. Won’t you decide for Christ today? Just pray this prayer, and know He is your Savior.
Jesus, I acknowledge that I am a sinner. I repent of my sin, and ask you to forgive me. I know you died on the cross to take my sin away, and rose again to give me eternal life, and I accept you into my life as my Savior, and make you Lord of my life. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me. Amen.
If you just prayed that prayer for the first time, angels are rejoicing in heaven right now. Welcome to the family of God. You need to do a few things.
First, find a good bible believing church where you can learn more about this new found faith.
Second, read your bible. I suggest you read John in the New Testament first, then go back to the beginning of the New Testament (Matthew) and read it through a little at a time. Don’t rush it, and ask God as you go to help you understand.
Third, find someone to share your new found faith with. This is very important, as speaking that new faith out to others solidifies it in your own heart. This needs to be done soon!
Fourth, pray regularly, asking God to help you make the changes you need to make to follow Him. And thank Him when you see His helping hand in your life. Talk to God regularly. He wants to communicate with you.
You are in for a wonderful time of life. I don’t want to be too altruistic – there will be struggles and trials that will still come your way. But now you have God on your side, and he can get you through anything!