Drugs. Alcohol. Unrestrained sexual lusts. A criminal mind. Prison time for robbery. Liar. Cheat. Pimp. Deciet. Selfishness.
The Bible says that those who live like I had lived cannot enter the Kingdom of God. But then it says
“AND SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU, BUT YOU ARE WASHED, BUT YOU ARE SANCTIFIED, BUT YOU ARE JUSTIFIED IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS, AND BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD.” (1 Cor.6:11)
Too often, I hear of people dwelling more on their life before Christ, than what their life in Christ is now. I don’t particularly care to dwell on what I was outside of Jesus. Suffice it to say that JESUS SET ME FREE!
In the fall of 1983 ( September 6th) I was headed for Salt Lake City, Utah, after a six month visit to my home town in Northern Minnesota. I had spent a couple of months in jail for trying to outrun a game warden, which resulted in a head-on collision with the game warden (it’s a long story), but it didn’t stop there. My engine was still running, the game warden’s head was on the steering wheel, and I thought I’d killed him. I put my car in reverse, went around him, and soon was facing a road block, which I attempted to run through, but my tire blew before I could do it. Praise the Lord. I would have probably been killed, because the officers had their guns trained on me, just as the tire blew.
Anyway, after some jail time, I headed for Salt Lake City to go to work on a highline tower construction job. I told the girl I had spent the summer with (the part of summer that I wasn’t in jail) that I would come back to get her after I got settled in Salt Lake City. I was lying to her. I liked her, but I couldn’t stay faithful to one woman. On the way, I thought I would stop and say good bye to a couple of ex-party friends of mine, Dave and Lorinda Nasson. Dave was a big Chippewa indian who I used to party with, and some times he would get very violent when he got drunk. Lorinda was the sister of the girl I was leaving behind. She used to get high all the time. But now they were Christians, and they didn’t do the things they used to do. Even though I knew they would preach to me, I stopped anyway, because Christian or no, they were still my friends.
PHILOSOPHY VERSUS THE TRUTH
Sure enough, when I got there, they started telling me about Jesus. My time in prison had given me three and a half years to study philosophy and religion, so I had all sorts of arguements to offer them. Every thing they told me went in one ear and out the other, because I figured that they were just too close minded for me to reason with them. After all, I had studied Buddhism, Hinduism, Astrology, Palmistry, witchcraft, and American Indian Religions; I had read the Bhagavad Ghita, the Koran, the Satanic Bible by Anton Lavey, and the Life of Buddah, and a number of other books on religion and philosophy; I had studied the writings of Gurdjeiff and Confucious and Mencius, and several other confused teachers who claimed enlightenment. I had practiced yoga, and experimented with meditation and dabbled in the Occult. For some one to tell me that Jesus was the ONLY WAY, was just too unreasonable to me.
Oh, I believed in Jesus. Historically, there was no doubt that He existed. But I thought He was just a good man, a prophet, a sage, a shaman, a yogi, a guru, a man who had reached a higher level of consciousness than most men had ever reached. I thought He was like Buddha, or Muhammad. But no way would I be close minded enough to say He was the ONLY WAY. But one time, a man held a gun to my head, and outwardly, I defied him to pull the trigger, but inwardly, I prayed to Jesus to get me out of this one. Another time I had spent 48 hours in a Minnesota blizzard with little more than a sweater and a couple of pairs of pants and a thin summer sleeping bag. I called on Jesus then, too. Another time, when I was hitchhiking in Idaho, my packsack was all that was between me and a rattlesnake. I was talking to Jesus then, as well. Several other times, I had been in danger, and each time I called on Jesus, not to mention the many times I spent hugging a commode after a long hard drunken binge, puking my guts out, and swearing to Jesus that I’d never do THAT again.
AT THOSE TIMES IN MY LIFE, IT NEVER ENTERED INTO MY MIND TO CALL ON ANYONE BUT JESUS.
Anyway, I stood there arguing and philosophizing with Dave and Lorinda, and Dave’s sister for three and a half hours, trying to get them to see my point. During those three and a half hours, Dave would repeat one phrase over and over again. He’d say: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.” I didn’t know what that meant, it didn’t make any sense to me, and after a while, I began to conclude that maybe the reason he had become a Christian was because the drugs had gotten to his mind, because he just kept on repeating that phrase over and over again. It got so that I would know when he was going to say it, because he would get this funny look on his face, and say, “Now….” and inwardly, I would say it with him…”Yeah, yeah, ‘faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen'”.
After about three hours, their pastor, Lonnie Lee and his wife, Patty came over and joined them while they witnessed to me. After another half hour, I said, “Look guys, I have a long way to go yet, so I really should be going.” Lonnie asked if they could pray with me. I told them sure, they could pray for me all they want. I didn’t realize they meant right there. They grabbed hold of my arm, and led me to the kitchen and sat me down on a chair and started to pray for me. My head was down, and it was hard for me to keep from laughing because Dave, that big once-so-violent man was saying “oh, yes, Jesus”, and it seemed so out of character with the Dave I had known. I left, after Lonnie explained that they had prayed that God would reveal Himself to me through the Holy Spirit.
About 150-200 miles down the road, I checked into a motel in Fairbault, Minnesota. There was a bar near by, but I knew that if I went to the bar at 7:00 in the evening, there was a good chance that I would spend too much of my travelling money, so I sat in my room, and a sudden restlessness came over me. I turned on the television, but I always thought the television was a waste of time, so I just went through the channels and turned it off. I noticed a Bible on the bedstand, but I ignored it, and went and took a shower.
When I came out of the shower, as I dried my hair, I noticed that Gideon’s Bible again. I picked it up, and said a prayer, something like: “God, you had five of Your best people telling me about Jesus today. If Jesus is the ONLY WAY, if You think I can be a Christian, and if You think you could forgive me for my sins, now’s the time to tell me.” When you are alone in a motel room, you can get serious with God, and no one will care, because no one will see you. I opened the Bible, and expected some thunder, a loud voice, an earthquake or an angel to appear, but nothing happened. I laid down on the bed and started to read right where I had opened the Bible to.
The Bible had opened to the book of Romans. I naturally started to read at the top left hand corner of the left hand page, and by the time I got to the last verse at the bottom right hand corner of the right page, I was ready to conclude that there was nothing there for me. No thunder, no Voice from heaven, no earthquake, no angel to tell me that Jesus was the ONLY WAY. Not only that, but I couldn’t even remember what I had just read. To me, the text had been dry and boring. I figured it was time to go to the bar. But there was a part of me that really knew what the Truth was, and that part of me persuaded me to read just a little more. So I read the rest of the page, and went to turn the page.
Now, I was lying flat on my back, and as I turned the page, I stretched my arms above me and yawned. As I did so, a page came floating out of the Bible and landed on my chest. I picked up that page, and my eyes went instantly to the chapter that was in bold print. “CHAPTER 11″. I read the first verse under chapter 11, and it said “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen”. Immediately, I remembered Dave saying that verse over and over again. I looked at the page number. Page 913. (I kept the page). I used to go to the horse track at Delta Downs in Vinton, Louisiana almost on a weekly basis when I lived in Houston. I understood the odds of that particular page falling out on my chest. When I acknowledged the impossibility of that happening, God touched me with His Sweet Holy Spirit. I gave my heart to Him right then and there. He had answered my questions. Yes, Jesus was the ONLY WAY, Yes, I could be a Christian, and Yes, He would forgive my sins. I forgot about the bar. I stayed there and read the rest of Hebrews 11, and understood what it was saying. I stayed up late into the night, reading and understanding the Word of God.
I was in Salt Lake City for a month, when the Lord put a great desire in my heart for that girl I had left behind. I asked Him to join our hearts together. Then I drove all the way back to Minnesota, and told her about my conversion. Michelle wanted Jesus too. Since that day we have been together, and are happily married, with five children, and have been on a wonderful journey of faith and growth together in the things of God.
HALLELUJAH! WHAT A WONDERFUL SAVIOUR WE HAVE!