(William is a good missionary friend doing an excellent job in Paris.)
THIRTY YEARS AGO this week, my life drastically changed.
I was 22 years-old and going nowhere. Had already flunked out of college. Was working menial jobs here and there. Had dreams and ambitions, and a boatload of talent, but couldn’t get the boat out of harbor. Heck, I couldn’t even keep it afloat.
I was sinking. Fast.
The drugs and alcohol, which used to be such fun, didn’t satisfy anymore. No matter how much I did, and no matter the combinations. The womanizing, the broken relationships, the partying, all the consuming. It all left me empty, miserable, frustrated, and… tormented. I had no peace. It was hell on earth.
I was desperate.
Something inside of me started crying out. I needed help. Fast.
Anything that would give me peace. Drugs no longer worked, in fact, they made it worse. Sex, music, money, selfishness… nothing gave me peace.
Something inside of me cried out to God: “Whoever You are, wherever You are, please help me, please give me peace.”
I looked into different religions. Searching. Clawing my way through the muddy dark cave of my soul. Tormented. Desperate.
Finally, one night in early September, I snuck into my mom’s bedroom and grabbed her big ol’ Bible. The last thing I wanted, or needed, was religion. I needed peace. And love. And forgiveness.
Lots of doubts about Jesus coursed through my mind. I’d already kinda tried that stuff as a kid and as a teen. Nothing super serious, but I knew some of the basics. And yeah, the people I’d met at church back in the day were, in retrospect, actually really kind, warm, loving, and… peaceful. But sheesh, I wasn’t ready for no religious trip, man.
However, I couldn’t deny that light I’d seen in the eyes of my Sunday school teacher when I was about 8. That light was bright. It oozed love. And, peace.
So I plunged into that big, ol’ Bible. But I’d only read the Old Testament, the part written before the life of Jesus. I wanted to do my OWN research. Wanted to find out FOR MYSELF. No church, no religion, no words of men. Just trying to find this God who had showed up at the Red Sea and bailed out Charlton Heston in that movie.
So I read, and cried out to God. “Please help me.”
And I read, and cried out. And read, and read, and read. And cried.
And then… He came.
My eyes had fallen upon the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, a prophet writing around 700 BC. He described the future Messiah and how He would die for the sins of the people.
“But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities,
the chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
and by His stripes we are healed.”
And then… He came.
Human language feels inadequate to explain what happened that moment.
It felt like a wave of love and peace washed over me such as I had never felt before.
Wave after wave of liquid love broke forth upon me and within me and in an instant I knew that Jesus was real. And that He LOVED ME. And that He had done all of that… FOR ME. And that somehow, someway, He was there in my room in Liddonfield Housing Project in early September 1992.
His love broke through upon me and I was born again.
It was… no, … HE was … overwhelming, and exhilarating, and enthralling, and kind. And peace. He was, and is, peace.
I wept and wept and wept. And I revelled in His love. And I gave Him all my heart, all my love, and all my life.
And in a moment, my life was completely changed.
From one day to the next I was completely different.
Not always what I wanted to be.
And not always what I’m going to be.
But I sure wasn’t what I used to be.
And it was all because of Him. Because He IS love.
And since then – three decades ago – He has been undeniably faithful.
And so, so good.
I’ve never regretted for even one second surrendering all my heart and life to Him. Jesus. The Prince of Peace.
Thirty years ago this week, my life drastically changed.