There we were on my friend’s motorcycle taking the 30 minute ride to the church we were invited to attend. I’m glad my friend knows how to get there because I have no idea. Within me my emotions are all over the place, but yet I’m strangely calm about this. We finally arrive and have just entered … The Twilight Zone. Ever have one of those moments where time sort of stops and becomes all disjointed at the same time?
As we entered it felt like everybody’s attention was fixed on us. We must have looked like aliens that crash landed there. I noticed everyone was dressed so nicely -- and we weren’t. We didn't have any “Sunday go to meeting clothes” on. But to be honest, I had specifically decided I would present myself as I really was in order to see if I would be accepted. But our appearance didn’t seem to phase these folks.
Everyone appeared to be genuinely happy we were there. This was much different than the church I went to growing up. It wasn’t all stiff, dead and formal. There was actually life flowing throughout the place. People were talking with each other, laughing and acting like they were glad to see each other.
We found a pew towards the back. There were about 200 people. We opened a hymn book along with the rest of the folks and tried to take it all in. The main pastor was gone that day and so the assistant pastor preached. He preached on Hell! I only knew about Hell as a bad word not really a real place like he talked about. It didn’t scare me but I knew, sensed, a reality that I had never sensed before that moment. Something awakened within me.
I don’t remember much of the sermon but it caught my attention. The whole experience had my attention. It came time in the service for the “every eye closed and every head bowed” portion. The pastor asked those that knew they were saved and going to Heaven to raise their hands. I took a peek and saw hands up all over the place with just about every head bowed. I’m sure the majority of the folks were praying really hard for these two just off the street hippie sorts to get saved.
The next time we went the regular pastor was back. I have no memory of what he preached but we had already made up our minds to go forward at the invitation and see what this was all about. When the time came we walked forward. You could hear and feel the people’s excitement. We were taken into separate inquiry rooms and presented with the Roman’s Road of Salvation Scripture verses.
Now my mind is such that I’m not going to let anybody persuade or convince me of anything against my will. I actually tried to not pay attention to the salvation pitch or the salvation prayer I was led in. For some reason I figured if this was really of God, and if there really was a God, He’d have to be bigger than my will at least.
We both prayed the “prayer” and were presented to the church as newly saved. Interesting. We weren’t so sure. After I got home I went to my bedroom and got down on my knees. I told “God” that I’d read the Bible everyday but still live my life my way and see which one would win out in the end. I went to the Christian book store, got a New Scofield Study Bible and started reading in the Gospel of John.
After awhile I had to acknowledge I wasn’t keeping the arrangement I had made with God. I was finding it hard to read the Bible when I came home stoned each night. And strangely, wonderfully, that bothered me.
I started to work harder on keeping up my end of the bargain. This went on for about six months. Somewhere along the way though my friend lost interest and started to go back more-and-more to his old life. I determined I was going to see this thing through.
One day after work I was riding my motorcycle home. I decided to do a wheelie and flipped the dumb thing over. I slid down the road on my rear-end as I watched the bike merrily bounce around getting all messed up. Thankfully I didn’t get all messed up. But it was another close call with another motorcycle. I now had to find a way to get it home.
I don’t remember how but I got my grandfather’s van, put it inside and drove home dreading a confrontation with my mom. Interestingly, all during this time, I had been keeping her up to date with my spiritual journey and had actually been giving her the Gospel the best I understood it.
When I got home … THERE SHE WAS waiting for me at the porch door. As I got ready to wheel it out she said “one of these days you’re going to kill yourself on that thing.” I gave the only response I could think of: “I don’t care because if I die I’ll go to Heaven.” To which she yelled back: “That’s a bunch of BULL!.”
Now honestly I can’t tell you why what happened next happened. But in that split second, all of a sudden, Heaven and Hell became very really to me. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to Heaven. Even my unsaved mom could see that. While that thought flashed through my mind something else happened that I can’t explain. Please understand I didn’t actually see or hear anything … but I did. In my mind’s eye I saw Jesus dying on the cross for me and I could hear God saying to my heart “if you don’t accept My Son now you never will.” It really was that real.
So hunched over my motorcycle in the back of my grandfather’s van I said to God, inaudibly, “God, I believe.” That was it. But right then-and-there it was just like someone had pulled the string hanging down from the light bulb and the light came on and the darkness left.
It … was … amazing! I knew that God Almighty had popped out of eternity into time to reach out and save me. I was born-again, and I knew it.
That was 43 years ago. And you know what? — I still know I’m saved. It’s still real. And “the word of God is [still to me] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
II Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [ie, a new creation]: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Is this verse true in your life? Have you ever been made a new creation in Christ Jesus?
If not, call upon God, meet Him on your knees and pour out your heart to Him. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13