In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us (Ephesians 1:7-8).
My life-changing event of December 24, 1972 (see this link) did not occur in a vacuum. And as with all stories, mine has a back-story; this one, an important one for you to know.I discovered the existence of a Being called ‘God’ when I was five or six. My mother had wrapped herself in a shawl, lit a candle, waved her hands above the flame and then covered her eyes. I’d never witnessed such a thing in my young life – at least not to my recollection.
“What are you doing?” I asked.“Praying to God,” she answered.
It was then I’d learned the concept of God and the idea of prayer. Mom must have explained more about Him because I remember praying many nights in my bed. A simple prayer. I still remember it: Oh, God. Please God. Don’t let anything happen to me, Andrea, Tommy (whom my mother was dating), or my mother.
With virtually no further instruction from my mom – or anyone else, for that matter – my understanding of this Being we called God remained static for many years. By the time I reached my early teen years, I stopped praying, and God became for me a childhood fantasy.
In 1969, when I was 19, I stopped at a traffic light on the corner of Mott Avenue and Beach Channel Drive in Far Rockaway, New York. And from nowhere the thought dropped into my mind, “What if there is a God?”
I let my thoughts speculate a moment on that idea, but then – the light was still red – I realized if there was a God, He did not approve of my sex-drugs-rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. If there was a God, I would have to change. But I didn’t want to change. I liked my life the way it was. So, when the light turned green I pushed the question from my mind.Several months later as I walked toward my apartment I spotted an ant hill at my feet. I don’t know why I stooped to examine it, but the tiny creatures intrigued me as they scurried in and around the mound. Then I remembered my high school science teacher telling us ants are an important component of the ecosystem. Without them, and insects like them, the earth could not sustain plant life.
Such intricacies in life illustrated an ordered world. But an ordered world implied One who did the ordering. And I knew where that thought was leading, so I quickly pushed that idea from my mind and continued on my way.Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement – is the most holy day in the Jewish calendar. It marks the day when Jews around the world fast and pray for God’s forgiveness of their sins. It was on that day in 1972 that I sat alone in my navy barracks in San Diego. I’d become melancholy about my life. There’d been times within the past few years – infrequent though they might have been – that I wanted to be good, to obey the God I’d learned about as a child, to stop sinning so much and so badly. But I failed every time.
My worst failure had occurred a year earlier on Yom Kippur, 1971. I had tried to take advantage of that most holy day and turn over a proverbial new leaf. I determined to fast and pray, to promise God I would be better from then on.And then my girlfriend rang the doorbell. I hadn’t expected to see her that day, but there she was. And one thing led to another, and before I knew it, we were in bed together. On Yom Kippur. The most holy day in our Jewish calendar. Committing sin.
I remembered that 1971 failure as I sat in my barracks room on Yom Kippur, 1972. Depression settled over me and I wrote in my journal: Oh, God, please forgive my past sins and look with tolerance on my future ones.I would not presume to promise God I’d stop sinning. I knew I was no more capable of living a holy life than I could jump off a building and fly like a bird. The best I could hope for was His mercy.
And that is the back-story to my Christmas Eve 1972 commitment to Christ. If you haven’t yet, you can read it at this link.So, what’s the point of my telling this story? Why do I think it important for you, the reader, to know mine when your story is likely so different? Here’s why:
I’d made at least two conscious and deliberate decisions as a young adult to turn away from God. I wanted my life of sex-drugs-rock ‘n’ roll without His interference. And it didn’t matter to me that I killed my baby in an abortion chamber, or I turned young women into whores, or destroyed the fledgling faith of some, or lied or cheated or stole to gain an advantage for myself. I didn’t care because I was all about myself.And yet, through it all – my arrogant rebellion against a holy God, and the damage and death I brought to those around me – God did not give up on me. He did not turn me away as I had turned Him away. He continued through all those years to pursue me, to woo me, to love me.
Why is that important for you to know? Because regardless of your own back-story, as dark or as light as it might be, that you have read this far is evidence you are seeking God – and just as important – He has not given up on you. He is pursuing you, wooing you, loving you to Himself.And I believe He is waiting – hoping – for this to be the day you look to heaven and say, Lord God, forgive me for all of my sins, take me to Yourself, and help me live as Christ for the rest of my life.
If you wish, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to talk more.