One Man’s Journey
He doesn’t remember too much about the first revival he attended as a kid. Yet, he does recollect the altar call. It seemed like thousands of people went up front to give their lives to Jesus. He went up as well but had no idea what it all meant. Over the next few years, he went to the front at almost every opportunity. The young boy knew that he wanted to have a personal relationship with Jesus, yet he never seemed confident he had one.
His mother and father divorced when he was four. He is sure their separation started the downward spiral – he dearly loved them. They loved him, but like everyone else, they were flawed. She was much, much younger than his dad. It didn’t help that she was Baptist, and he was Pentecostal. Frankly, the marriage didn’t stand a chance.
Though brought up as a Baptist, she rarely went to church. He was Pentecostal and attended regularly. The Baptist church taught that when a person walked the aisle and gave themselves to Jesus, they had nothing to worry about – kind of like buying fire insurance. The Pentecostal church taught that one could lose their salvation; we needed something more called the Holy Ghost’s second filling. From their perspective, it seemed like there was a never-ending pursuit of something greater. As for salvation, he couldn’t say that he was confused as much as clueless about what to believe.
As time went by, his interest in spiritual things waned, and he lost focus on religion. He picked up a few nasty habits along the way, including a vocabulary that would make a sailor blush. Through his high school years, depression became a profound, dark reality of life as he searched for his place in this world.
The anxiety had begun almost without notice during his pre-teens. He began to crack his knuckles incessantly; he even started nervously twirling his hair with his finger – nonstop. Anxiety mounted as an ugly burden as he entered his college years. Things progressed to the point where he wouldn’t step on a crack in the sidewalk and did everything in multiples of five. He vividly remembers a constant fear of death – and judgment.
As crazy as it may sound, the depression and anxiety pushed him to achieve more and more as he tried to flee the pain. He thought he could find peace through the accolades of achievement. Yet, the more he succeeded, the lonelier he felt. After graduation, he felt he could find refuge from his old enemies – depression and anxiety – by making money and buying stuff. He also believed that he could discover sanctuary at the bottom of a bottle and in a pretty face. He bought a nice truck and saved money for a house, but these things didn’t relieve the pressure. The bottle only made matters worse – much worse. Marrying that pretty girl – that didn’t help either.
He was married at twenty-six and quickly found that career, marriage, and a family only increased the struggle’s pain. The arguments began before they were married. His anger was too much to control, especially when he had too much to drink. He loved to play golf; it was a release for him, except when he hit a bad shot, his blood boiled. He thought he was a Christian because of his many trips to the altar. Yet, something was not right. It became increasingly clear that if something didn’t change, he would lose everything – marriage and family, career, and probably life.
Right around his twenty-ninth birthday, something did begin to change. Slowly, he began to have a renewed interest in spiritual things. He and his wife began to search for churches to raise their son around “good people.” One night while reading a popular Christian book, he had a profound sense of God’s presence. He cried out that he wanted to follow Him anywhere He led. Amazingly, only a few months later, he and his wife found themselves living in a town 2500 miles away, attending a new church.
The first time he sat down to hear the preaching, he was stunned by the difference. The man in the pulpit opened the Bible and explained it. Who knew that even existed? Everything was radically different from what he saw growing up. In the following weeks, the pastor exposed him to the Scriptures – he started to understand the Gospel and the significance of what Christ had accomplished for him. He realized that Jesus had paid for his sin on Calvary. He no longer bore the guilt of his sins (Col 2:14; 2 Cor 5:21). He publicly confessed Christ and believed in His heart that God raised Him from the dead (Rom 10:9).
During those first few months in that church, he began a new journey as he became a loyal follower of Christ. He felt things start to change in profound ways. The anxiety, depression, and anger didn’t go away all at once, but the drinking and cussing almost immediately ceased though there were still skirmishes with those old foes. As time went by, the outbursts of anger became a less frequent and unwelcome guest. His depression and anxiety can still bite him even today. But one thing is for sure; he is profoundly different.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come (2 Cor 5:17)
Written above is the salvation story of a man I know very well. By God’s grace, he is still a devoted follower of Christ over 20 years later. He remains married to that pretty girl – they have four children together.
If this story has struck a chord with you, we encourage you to contact us. We also invite you to attend our Sunday services.
At Grace Bible Church, we are committed to the four pillars of ministry –
- The Exaltation of God
- The Exposition of Scripture
- The Equipping of the Saints
- The Evangelism of the Lost