If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

How it all Began

You can find the "rest of the story" regarding my becoming a Catholic Christian by clicking here.

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But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:5,6).

Although raised in a Jewish home, the closest I ever came to religion was when I drove past a synagogue. So when I stopped at a traffic light, the thought caught me by surprise: "What if there IS a God?"

Even though I knew nothing about the Bible, and even less about the Church, I did know that, if He existed, He would not approve of my use of drugs and women, thefts and self-centered lifestyle. I would have to change.

But I didn't want to change. So, as the light turned green, I decided the simplest course of action was ignore the question.

But God did not ignore me. Several months later, while walking toward my apartment, I spotted an ant hill along the sidewalk. Hundreds of the little creatures scrambled back and forth in what appeared haphazard motion. Then I remembered from my high school biology class that ants are vital to the ecosystem. Without their irrigation of the soil, much of the earth's plant life would not be possible. That meant ants were part of a precise ecological structure. Structure implied someone who did the structuring. However, by the time I reached my front door I had forced those thoughts from my mind. I knew where they were heading and I didn't want to go there.

For the next two years my life careened in an almost hypnotic flow of careless living. But a nagging emptiness followed me. Something was wrong, although I didn't yet know what it was.

Thinking I needed a change of scenery, I joined the Navy in May 1972. That October, I spent Yom Kippor (the Day of Atonement, the holiest of the Jewish holidays) alone in my barracks, and for the first time in years I looked honestly at myself. I did not like what I saw. My lifestyle – my life – was terribly wrong. Worst of all, I didn't think I could change. I pulled my journal from the shelf and wrote, "God, forgive me for my past sins, and look with tolerance on my future sins."

I knew I was trapped in sin. I thought I could never be free.

Two months later the Navy assigned me to Japan. While in my barracks, a roommate offered me a copy of a book on Biblical prophecy titled, The Late Great Planet Earth. Amazed, I leafed through the pages and read the hundreds of Messianic Prophesies in the Jewish Bible. For example, Isaiah 7 foretold Messiah's virgin birth; Psalm 22, His crucifixion; Jeremiah 31:31-34 of a new covenant (new testament); Daniel 7 of the Son receiving an eternal kingdom, Isaiah 9:6 told of a child who would be called "Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace;"

Then I read the 53rd chapter of Isaiah. The ancient Jewish prophet spoke of Jesus' sacrificial death which paid the penalty for my sins:

"But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."

After reading and re-reading the Old Testament Scriptures, I suddenly realized not only did God love me, but because Jesus bore the punishment for my sins, I could be forgiven.

Forgiven of every evil, sinful, rebellious thing I'd ever done. Even the abortion of my baby.

On December 25, 1972 I prayed, "God, I believe that Jesus is the Messiah." Not a very long prayer, but God saw my heart and knew I was committing my life and my lifestyle to His control. I rose from my knees and immediately flushed the marijuana I had in my room down the toilet. The pornographic magazines went into the trash bin and my language got a hefty dose of soap. I began telling others that God had forgiven me of every rotten thing I'd ever done.

In 1972 I didn't understand very much about what commitment to Messiah meant. I didn’t understand (nor would I understand for another 33 years) the fullness of why He established His Church. But I did understand on that day in 1972 that I needed God’s forgiveness, and I needed His help to change my life. I understood – and believed – the simple promise of Scripture: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

5 comments:

Gail said...

Heaven bears no labels, denominations or any other divisive factor. God bless you my friend for your genuine testimony. May God open the minds of unbelievers to Jesus Christ!

Richard Maffeo said...

Amen.

Randy said...

God is truly amazing, even when sometimes the "2x4" effect is neccesary! lol God bless you, a wonderful story, may God bring all of his people home!

Richard Maffeo said...

I just visited your blog. Seems like God led us on similar paths.

Randy said...

Thank you for the visit Richard, yes very similar I thought also! Even more than you think ;) Peace to you and yours and may God lead his people back to Himself.