I’ve been reading that this Pentecost will be the beginning of the great ingathering, that we will see evidence that God is holding open the altar of repentance for the whole world, and His desire is to bring more people into His Kingdom than has ever been seen in the past. This is a strategic time to pray for our nation and the world to humble ourselves, repent and receive God’s Good and Perfect Gift – Jesus.
It makes me recall my own salvation experience. I was lost. I was hiding, using drugs to conceal myself from the world around me. And I was empty. God came after me before I ever sought Him, so I’m praying that God will come after the lost people of the world and of our nation. I had lived life on my own terms, disregarding God, profaning His name, not interested in anything but my own selfish desires, following my own understanding, and wasting my life. That was when God came after me. He didn’t superimpose His will over mine, but He helped me make His will my will.
I had lived life on my own terms, not interested in anything but my own selfish desires, and wasting my life. That was when God came after me.
I remember sitting in my bedroom alone, looking over my life and saying, “How did I come to this place?” It was a place of emptiness, leading a rudderless existence, having no confidence in myself, merely existing. When I was younger, I had great ambition. I had aspirations to follow a profession and make my mark. I ended up where I felt like my life didn’t matter. In that self-examination, I started thinking there was nothing I could trust in this world. I was cynical and self-centered, and said to myself, “I can’t trust other people. They have always let me down in the long run. I can’t even trust myself because I’ve let myself down. I can’t put my trust in wealth or material possessions because they take wings and fly away.”
Somehow in that time of reflection, the only thing that made sense to me was that God is who the Bible says He is. That was not my natural thinking; it had to be God drawing me to Himself. It followed that Jesus is who the Bible says He is. And in order to avoid eternal torment and the pains of hell, I had to be saved. I didn’t know what it meant to be saved. I didn’t know how to be saved. I’d heard people talk about salvation on television and in movies, but I didn’t know how it applied to me. I didn’t know how to pursue it. All I knew was that it would be the ultimate irony in my life to think about getting saved and do nothing, and then have Jesus return just as the Bible says He will. I would miss heaven because I was passive. That started me on a quest.
Then I repented and asked Jesus to take over my life. For the first time in a long time, I had done the right thing. I found out who I really was: the me that I had been hiding.
Not long afterward, I ran into my old friend, Barbara Zane. I had known her for many years and heard her passionate stories about having a relationship with Jesus. I never asked her out, figuring that if I did the kind of things on a date with her that I did with other women, God was going to be very angry with me. I didn’t know it at the time, but the fear of the Lord was the beginning of wisdom. We started taking my little whaler out into the middle of Isle of Wight Bay, killed the motor, and talked about Jesus. I couldn’t get in any trouble out there. As she discipled me, we started going to church.
The first time we went to the church I ended up getting saved in, I heard a voice tell me three times, “Don’t go in there!” I disregarded it only because I didn’t want to look bad in front of Barbara. Our fourth time there was September 12, 1982. I said to myself, “If that preacher gives another one of those altar calls, I’m going!” At the altar I kept crying out in agony, “My heart is so black!” Then I repented and asked Jesus to take over my life, and felt physically lighter. For the first time in a long time, I had done the right thing. I found out who I really was: the me that I had been hiding. Six weeks later, Barbara and I were married.
Now, on Pentecost weekend, I’m praying that America and the whole world will have that kind of humbling experience by the Spirit of God, who convicts men of righteousness, sin, and judgment. Our nation is fractured as much as any time in its history. We’re divided along lines of color, political correctness, and in just about every respect we can think of. It makes me think of the crack in the Liberty Bell, a result of being imperfectly cast. When it was rung to proclaim liberty, it split. And it could not be rung again for fear that the divide would widen and become bigger. I feel like that’s where we are now as a nation.
The liberty that is going to set us free comes from God’s Spirit. It is not freedom to do whatever we want to do, to be stiff-necked and arrogant, full of ourselves and disobedient. It is freedom to understand that God has laws, ordinances, and commandments, not so He can kill our fun but because they are for our protection. He loves us and has our best interest at heart. He wants us to prosper. Where there is no revelation of God’s love, people cast off restraints; but happy is he who keeps the law. That is the revelation I am praying for people to receive this Pentecost. It was the revelation Peter preached on the Pentecost that marked the birth of the Church. It prompted men to cry out, “What shall we do?” Peter answered, “Be saved from this perverse generation.”
More Faith Stories
I’d been drinking all day long and pulled out into the path of an oncoming vehicle with a with a woman and all of her children packed into this car. They T-boned me and at that moment everything went blank.
One Sunday the music director said the handbell choir needed more members. I thought, “No, I wasn’t ready to get involved.” At the end of the service I found myself volunteering for bell choir!
One Sunday afternoon I was sitting drunk in a bar, and I’m looking around. The only ones in the bar were the bartender, some shady looking guy in the corner, my ex-boyfriend’s mom, and me. I heard this voice in my head say, “What am I doing here?”
This past year I found a black dot on my thumbnail that looked like a pencil point. Nothing much to it. Then it became an abrasion at the end of my nail. My doctor referred me to an orthopedic surgeon who found it to be malignant skin cancer.
At that point I said, “I can’t do this myself. It’s in your hands, God.” That part I remember clearly. It turns out that it was really, really was up to Him (and a good surgeon).
So when drugs and alcohol came around, it was easy for me to say “yes,” because I didn’t have anything in me saying “no” anymore. As I got more involved with drugs, I got into more crime. I started committing violent crimes, selling drugs, abusing drugs ended up back up in prison.