During the early 1970s, God used the Mother Earth News magazine to direct my father to move our family from a city in Massachusetts to a 40 acre farm with no running water in southeast West Virginia. We moved, rented a farm for $25 a month, and dad began working for a Christian who was committed to sharing his faith. After about a year living in West Virginia., my dad received Christ as His Lord and Savior and our family’s life was radically changed. Christ was everything to dad. While attending a revival meeting in a small country church the preacher used the Bible to make it perfectly clear that all those who did not know Christ as their Savior would be sent to hell as the just punishment for their sins. I did not have to be convinced I was a rebel. Although, I was only 8 or 9 years old, I knew I was a rebel and my heart wasn’t right.
I was a spoiled city kid trying to adjust to life in the country and my attitude and actions stunk. The preacher used the wood burning pot-belly stove to help illustrate the fires of hell. He made it clear from the Bible that God was perfect and holy and I had to be the same to get into heaven. I knew in my present state if I died I would go to that hell and I didn’t want to go there. I was overjoyed when He described how Christ paid my price. Using the Bible, the evangelist showed us why Christ died on the cross.
He preached the gospel. He shared the good news of why Jesus Christ came to this earth and died on a bloody cross outside of Jerusalem. From the Bible, the truth of how God punished Christ in my place was explained. The presentation of God’s free gift of salvation to all who would believe or begin trusting in Christ instead of themselves was proclaimed. It was on this day that God, through Christ, made me a new creature.
My life changed. The Spirit of Christ took up residence in the very fiber of my being and I have known since then that I was different. I did not stop breaking God’s rules that day, but I always knew that when I did something wrong I was forgiven. I could pray to God and ask for my sins to be forgiven. I knew that because of what Christ did on the cross I would no longer be found guilty because Christ paid my debt. God’s holy wrath against mankind’s rebellion would not have to burn against me, because I was trusting in Christ’s payment in my place. I owed a debt and Jesus Christ paid my debt.
Since that time I have sensed and experienced God’s presence during the ups and downs of life. When I was a wayward college student I was under such conviction because of my disobedient conduct. And as much as I tried to ignore God I just couldn’t get away from Him. I was completely uncomfortable doing what many had no problem doing and I was always aware of the reason for my perpetual discomfort—I was now a follower of Christ.
I have also experienced an inner peace and comfort knowing that I have a relationship with the Creator of the Universe—the one true God. I have spent over twenty years serving in the US Army as an Airborne Ranger and have faced death over and over again. From hazardous training exercises to combat deployments, death was a reality. Yet over and over again I knew that if I died I would forever be with God. My relationship with Christ gives my life a sense of purpose and direction that I would not have without Him.
From the Bible, I know that Christ died so that I would not have to experience the wrath of God on a fateful day of judgment. Were it not for my relationship with Christ my disobedience to God’s law would not be forgiven. Jesus is my Lord and Savior and I cannot imagine living without him. I saw God radically change my dad’s life first hand. The same revolutionary power that God applied to my father, He is now applying to me. He has changed this rebel who was rooted in sin, and He will continue to do so until my day of redemption!