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My father was an habitually angry man. He worked very hard to support our family, but he also drank heavily and often got abusive, both verbally and physically. Whenever this happened everyone in our house knew to get as far away from him as possible to avoid becoming the innocent object of his wrath. Nevertheless, a boy of seven has few options for escape. Needing a safe place to hide, I often retreated to my room and found an emotional, if not physical, place of comfort in the large, colorful pictures I found in our strange and massive family Bible. As I got older and learned to read better I spent long hours contemplating the many peculiar words and stories I encountered there—especially those of the Old(er) Testament.
Later on in high school, a fellow student explained to me how “Jesus Christ had died for sinners like me.” That was the first time I can remember anyone using those words outside of the Bible. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to fully comprehend or accept what had been revealed to me at that time. But the words of my classmate rattled around in my head—almost daily—until the right time more than ten years later!
As I grew older, I struggled with many questions concerning the Roman Catholic beliefs I inherited from my parents and the "primitive" faith of the Jews and Christians I encountered in the pages of the Old and New Testaments. I also thought a lot about my own sin and how to obtain God’s forgiveness, as I then understood it. I tried to live a life worthy of Heaven one day—but was continually defeated. I continued going to Mass, but found little peace in the words of the priests. I tried other Catholic churches, area "Lighthouse" meetings, and even a few highly recommended Protestant churches in my area. All that effort and striving--yet I never found viable answers or lasting peace in any of these things by themselves.
After getting married in 1982, my wife and I attended Mass together every week but something was still missing. I didn't know what was missing, but over time I came to realize in my heart I was never going to find what I was looking for in the places I was looking.
One Saturday evening I left my wife in church and went out to our car to read my [Catholic] Bible and pray. As I waited for her to come out I asked God to lead me to the truth and show me how I could know and follow Him like the early believers did. Later that evening it became crystal clear to me: I had to choose between following what I had been taught as a Roman Catholic or pursue the simple life of faith I read of in the Bible. For me, there was simply no way to reconcile the two. It was at that point that I realized the Bible, not the institutional church (Catholic or Protestant), would need to be my sole compass for pursuing God. That very evening I began pursuing the primitive Christianity found in the pages of Holy Scripture.
A few weeks later, I was sitting alone in my living room praying. Once again the words of my classmate broke into my consciousness as I asked God to further reveal Himself to me. But this time something was different. I finally came to understand in my heart that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah of the Old Testament, as well as the promised Son-of-God of the New Testament. I realized that for years I had stubbornly clung to the idea that I could come to God in my own strength, in my own time, on my own terms. I realized I had never really surrendered my life to Jesus Christ, and had never trusted solely in Him for anything—especially for freedom from the guilt and consequences of sin I had lived with until that point!
All this reflection lead me to take a good look at the years God had graciously allowed me to walk the earth. In all that time I had actually done nothing to merit His favor or forgiveness—nor could I (Eph 2:8-9). At last, I was able to understand God's free offer of forgiveness and was willing to give up all to follow Him on His terms.
That same hour I placed my trust in the sinless life and substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ on a Roman cross for the forgiveness of all my sins—past, present, and future. With that single act of faith, I began a life-long process of dying to my own will and experiencing the "abundant life" promised to those who truly know Christ as their Lord and Savior! Though I experience trials, hardships, and setbacks like everyone else I know, my life is also filled with an abiding peace, hope, and joy which neither life nor death can ever take from me! (Romans 8:38)
Since that day in June of 1984 my life has taken many twists and turns. I've had my fair share of victories and disappointments, happiness and grief, but God has never once forsaken me. All that I am, or ever hope to be, I owe to Jesus Christ and the freedom His sacrifice bought for me!
To learn more, please read the article "Knowing God" also located on this website.
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