I need to share with you some of the beginning of my story. The reason is simple, I want you to know the Almighty God, and come to love and serve Him. He is real and connects with mankind.
Through high school, I grew listless, hollow and empty inside. I was proud and arrogant. Loneliness controlled me. By the time I was a senior I began writing worthless poetry that leaked out the inner vacuum that controlled me. No direction in life. No peace of mind. I was depressed and needy.
I went to the local college my freshman year and met a girl in the spring of 1971. I thought I was in love, but instead, it was my attempt to fill the emptiness of my heart. Like a vampire, I clung to her in my pure selfish way and it led me down the path of lust and idolatry. She was the object of my life, not God. The path I was on was leading to a dead end and hurt for both of us.
She broke up with me one night in late summer, and cursed and said I was too religious, but the thing is she went to church. And even though I went to church every Sunday with my family (except my dad), like the Apostle Peter, I denied Christ that night. My religion was only in my head. I copied her and cursed for the first time in my life, and stated I wanted her. I made a clear choice and rejected Christ.
That is when it happened. Raised in a Baptist Church I never heard that God speaks to people today. But, I heard the voice of Jesus Christ as clear as if you spoke to me, but inside my heart. In a broken and sad voice, He said to me, “I am not your God.” It stung for just a moment because I never expected or knew that God cared for me like that or would ever talk to me.
And on top of that, I was so emotionally distraught at that time I quickly forgot the words and left her with my heart broken into a million pieces. A friend allowed me to stay at his house where I cried and wept all night. I was destroyed and full of grief. The days ahead were full of depression and much more grief.
One night shortly after the breakup, I walked from our house across Quarterline Road, past Pine Park and deeper into the woods. I grew up here and my buddies and I spent a lot of time in those woods as kids. I found a familiar, large beech tree and climbed it.
In the darkness, I started bargaining with God to give me back my girl. No response. Then I got mad and started screaming at the living God. I demanded that He give her back. I dared command the God of heaven to obey me. And not just obey me but give me the idol I embraced to replace Him in my heart.
Not even the devil dared to defy God in this way. Yes, he decided not to obey God any longer, but who is stupid enough to do what I did. For the first time in my life, I saw my arrogant pride. I was more wicked than the devil himself. How could God ever love me?
I was stunned and fell under deep, deep conviction. I saw my evil. I was a proud, immoral, idolater. My crimes were plain, and I had no excuse. I had nowhere to hide. I was doomed.
For the next weeks, I surrendered to justice. I actually thought God would kill me. I waited for a semi truck to run over me when I drove down the road. Or at least, I expected God to finish me off some way because I was guilty and deserved death and hell.
Know this, I did not try to talk to God anymore. I did not seek or expect mercy. I was too evil.
I went to a wedding reception, met a young guy and chatted. He invited me to a youth group meeting at his church. I don’t know why, but I went. There were 12 or fewer teens and college age students, and it was boring. They sang an emotionless song with an acoustic guitar that I never heard of. But while they were in their little world, I drifted into mine. I was not listening to them or singing.
But as we stood there, God stunned me. I have never been able to properly describe this supernatural event very well, but God poured into my heart and soul liquid love. In other words, I suddenly realized that wave after wave of God’s presence filled me like a huge bucket of liquid love. I was overwhelmed with the unmistakable presence of God and I blurted out, “If you love me this much, you have me forever!” I’m not sure how loud I spoke or if it was heard by these strangers, but God heard me.
I immediately had such a hunger to read the Bible that within weeks I read it all. And later I found these words, “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Romans 5:5 (KJV) A modern version says, “Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5 (AMP)
That is what happened to me, I actually found something in the Bible that explained my experience with the living God. The Holy Spirit entered me and His presence is overwhelming love. As the Word says, “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16 (KJV)
Today I understand that every true Christian, who is born again by God, has this reality, even if they do not “feel it” like I did. But God in His great mercy allowed this chief of sinners to know that He really loved me. I had to be totally broken so that I could be completely filled with real love.
That September day in 1971 was my spiritual rebirth. I left everything behind and became a narrow road follower of Jesus. Christ is my life, my sole purpose for living, my all in all. I will suffer all loss, including misunderstanding and rejection of family and friends to obey and preach what He wants me to say in the hopes of winning you to Him.