This is a true story. I know because itís my story about how Jesus found me and how He changed my life. He found me where I was and brought me out of a life that was surely headed toward self-destruction. Now that Iím on the far side of 65 years old and have never told the entire story to anyone, I would like to share it with you.
To provide some background of my early years, I was probably a fairly good kid born and raised on a farm and didnít really cause too much trouble. You know, just the normal Ďboys will be boysí kind of stuff. Then when I became about 10 or 11 years old, something changed in my life. To this day I canít really explain why it changed, only that it just happened.
From that age and for the next 4 or 5 years, I became very angry, hate filled, destructive and hurtful toward most everyone and everything around me. I started doing evil things during that time that are very painful and frightening to recall. I delighted in destroying beautiful things, engaged in animal cruelty, caused pain to others, and in one instance my very life was almost snuffed out. I donít wish to dwell on those things, but I think itís important to share just a few examples of my struggle.
For no reason on several occasions, I trampled down and destroyed prized flowerbeds belonging to my grandmother who I loved very much.
I built a bird feeder and carefully positioned it so that I could peer around the corner of an outbuilding and then, kill the birds with a rifle when they came in to feed.
One Motherís Day morning my mother was preparing a nice dinner for the family. I walked up to my mother on her special day, looked her in the eye and told her she was going to the dogs. That hurt her terribly. My father was in tears while he tried to tell me that I had not done a good thing. I donít recall being remorseful in any way.
Many times I devised unspeakable ways to cause pain and suffering in small animals. I seemed to enjoy torturing them and then watching them die.
One day as I was wandering around the farm outbuildings, I spotted a rope. It suddenly occurred to me that I should hang myself. Now, I wasnít having a bad day, nor was I depressed or discouraged. I didnít plan it or even think about it. I just suddenly knew I wanted to do it. I found a box to stand on, tied the rope to a ceiling joist, put a noose around my neck and then, jumped off the box. However, the rope was old and immediately broke under my weight. After that happened, I simply removed the rope, discarded it and continued on my way. My sore neck healed in a few days.
There were many more examples but looking back on those horrible times, I am now convinced a demon had entered into my being and had been working very hard to destroy me. I truly believe that if my life had continued along that same path, eventually I would have killed someone or myself, or both. In spite of that, throughout those 4 or 5 years my school- work was average, there were no drugs in those days and I had a small handful of friends. As a family we went to church and Sunday school, but back then, I really didnít learn very much. I probably went there because it was expected and everyone thought it was the thing to do.
Then one evening when I was 15 years old, something changed that would transform my life forever. Our church had invited an evangelist to preach a short series of special evening services. At the time I didnít know why, but I decided to attend one of those services. Shortly before the service began, I entered the Sanctuary and slipped unnoticed into a back row. The church was small and perhaps only 15 or 20 people were there for the service that night.
For the next hour or so, that preacher told us about a Holy God and how much He loves each one of us. He told us how each of us was born in sin, eternally lost and not worthy in Godís sight as He cannot look upon sin. The preacher told us about Jesus, who He is, and that He came here to teach us and show us His plan of salvation. Jesus suffered and died on the cross to pay the penalty for, and carry the burden for all sin including mine, if we would only believe, confess our sins and repent, and accept Him into our heart as our Lord and Savior. The Bible calls that becoming Ďborn againí. He also told us that Jesus would return one day to judge all mankind. On that day if we didnít truly have Jesus in our heart and life, then we would fall into Godís terrible judgment and would forever be separated from Him.
I also learned that it didnít matter how bad weíve been or what we had done in the past. God promises in His Word that He will forgive us of all those things if we only ask Him and choose to accept His plan of salvation. Even though our sins are as scarlet, they would be washed whiter than snow. Our sins would be buried in the deepest sea to be remembered no more. The Bible tells us that when we become born again, we are washed clean by the blood of the cross and we then become new creatures in Him.
Even though I had heard most of those things before, on that night it seemed the preacher was talking directly to me. I was growing very uncomfortable listening to him. Over the past few years I had been involved in some very bad stuff. I had never confessed my sins before God, never asked Him to forgive my sins and had never deliberately invited Jesus into my life. In that moment, I realized I was a lost sinner and needed Him to save me.
Near the end of the service, the preacher asked everyone to bow their head and close their eyes. As he was praying, he asked if perhaps there might be someone there who knew they were lost in sin, that they needed the Savior in their life and perhaps they were ready to invite Jesus into their heart. If so, would they please raise their hand so he could meet with them at the end of the service.
At that point my heart was pounding and my hands were sweating. I could feel and hear God speaking to me. I truly needed to be born again through Godís saving grace. I raised my hand. After the service when I met with that preacher, we prayed together and he led me to the Lord that night. I just praise God and will forever thank Him for changing my life!
Several things happened that evening. I had become a born again child of God. My eternal future was secure in Him through His promises. My past sins were forgiven and forever forgotten in His eyes. I had become a new creature in Him with a new life. From that moment forward, all the evil that had been a part of my life before my salvation, never ever returned. When Jesus truly came into my heart and filled the void, the demon that had staked a claim in my life simply left because it knew it could not compete with the matchless Holy Name of Jesus.
For the next 5 years, I was excited about my newfound path. I read Godís Word, prayed, attended two church services each Sunday, became involved in the church youth group, went to summer Bible camps and became a member of our local church. Also, I became active in Scouting, 4-H Club and the horse Riding Club. Clearly, that newfound path was wholesome and honoring to God.
Next, I went away to college and began work in my new career. Soon I met and married a fine lady who I love more than life itself. God richly blessed our life together with rapid career advancement, a new home and two beautiful children. In addition, I was enrolled in the University evening program for 10 years pursuing engineering and mathematics degrees. Not long after that, we formed and operated two successful companies for many years. All seemed to be going very well for us and we were very busy.
However, I became too busy. I had allowed the things of this world to overshadow my love for the Lord. Oh, I knew He was always there with me, but He was not number one in my life during most of those years. My focus was not on Him. I was not totally dependent on Him and spent very little time in prayer and reading His Word, but that was soon to change. God will never allow His own to wander far away from Him.
My wife was not a true Bible believing Christian when we married. Along the way, however, she became born again through the Billy Graham ministries. Then as her life changed, she began to read Godís Word, attend Bible studies, pray and grow in the Lord. As she matured in her new faith, it became obvious to her that I needed God to return to the forefront of my life. Some time later she shared with me that she had prayed to God that He would wake me up. Today, I just thank Him for a caring wife who loved the Lord as she did.
Well, she began to pray and pray she did, because God heard those prayers and He woke me up. The best way I can describe it is with the words from the refrain in the gospel hymn ĎHE TOUCHED MEí.
ĎHe touched me, O, He touched me,
and O, the joy that floods my soul;
Something happened, and now I know,
He touched me and made me whole.í
Since the day He Ďwoke me upí, God has changed my life again. For the past several years and also into retirement, I enjoy Christian writing, Bible study, eschatology (last days prophecy), Christian worship hymns and southern gospel music, biblical theme woodcarving and sharing the Good News of the gospel with others.
Many years ago when that old rope broke, it was not mere coincidence. You see, I believe God stepped in and rescued me from that moment. He had a plan for my life that had not yet been revealed to me. In Jere. 29:11-13 we read: (v11) Ď For I know the plans that I have for you,í declares the Lord, Ďplans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.í (V12) ĎThen you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.í (V13) ĎYou will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
I truly found my future and hope in Jesus. My road has not always been smooth nor has the pathway always been straight, but then, He has never promised that for us. All throughout our lives we will experience hills and valleys. Sometimes we might find ourselves in a very low valley and then must face a hill that seems like an un-surmountable mountain to climb.
However, I have learned that our God on the mountain is also our God in the valley. If we truly seek His face, He will take us by the hand in that darkest valley and will safely lead us out. He will put His strong arms around us and then carry us over the tough places in our pathway. He wants us to lean on Him all the way from that deep valley to the highest mountain peak.
He is just waiting patiently for us to be totally dependent on Him. If you have Him in your heart as Savior and Lord of your life, He will lead you out of the dark valleys and into the bright sunshine at the top of the mountain. When we put Him first in our life with complete dependence and trust, we will learn to pray and find comfort in His written Word. He will be our friend, our guide, our Savior, our Lord and Master, and our blessed hope for all eternity. What an awesome God we serve!
You have just read about my personal ĎJourney to Jesusí that spans many years. However, that journey is not yet finished. It also must continue today, tomorrow and beyond because scripture commands us to walk as He walked and to strive to be like Him. I just praise Him that I am saved by His amazing grace, through faith, and by no works of my own. I also know that the day my life on earth is over, my last breath here will be my first breath in Heaven. When my eyes close in death, they will then be immediately opened there to see the loving, outstretched arms of my Jesus welcoming me. I know that when I see Him, I will know Him by His shining, smiling face and by the scars in His nail pierced hands. What a day that will be!
Perhaps God is speaking to you today as you are reading this writing. Maybe you are struggling with pride, or some other sin in your life, or perhaps you have given the things of this world priority over God. Maybe you have never truly met Jesus at the cross and have never turned your life over to Him. Have you been humbly on your knees before Him in true repentance and invited Him into your heart as your Savior and Lord? Or, perhaps you are just going through the motions of what you perceive as Christianity. Does any of that describe you?
Listen my friend, I am here to tell you today and as you have just read in my personal journey to Jesus, I have experienced all those things. We must first realize we all are lost sinners in Godís sight. The Bible says we were all born with a sinful nature. God hates sin and cannot look upon it. We simply cannot comprehend our need for salvation unless we understand Godís judgment and condemnation against sin. Sin is anything that is not honoring to God and/or anything that would separate us from Him.
Rom. 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, not even one.
Rom. 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Luke 13:3 I tell you, unless you repent, you will all perish.
Rom. 14:12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
Heb. 9:27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.
1 Pet. 4:5 But they will have to give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God loves us, His creation, so much that He in His infinite wisdom provided a plan of salvation for all who would choose to accept it. His love for us is so great that He sent His Son Jesus to suffer and die on the cross in our place to carry the burden of all sin for the entire world. That includes all of your sins and mine. Itís only through His shed blood on the cross that we can choose to receive eternal life. He paid the full price for us on that cross. We just need to acknowledge before Him that we are lost in sin, we must truly repent of our sins and ask Him to forgive them, and then consciously and deliberately invite Jesus into our heart and life as our Savior and Lord.
John 3:3 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My Word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
John 14:6 Jesus said, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
Rom. 10:9,10 (V9) If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; (V10) For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
Rom. 10:13 For whoever will call on the Name of the Lord will be saved.
Eph. 2:8,9 (V8) For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; (V9) Not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Jesus found me where I was in life and then changed me forever. He can do the same for you if you choose to let Him into your life. To simply ignore Him and not choose Jesus as your Savior and Lord is to reject His message. Jesus said in Rev. 3:20, ĎBehold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Meí. He gave His life for us on the cross. Now, what will you choose to do with Him?
Do you hear Him knocking at the door of your heart? Have you heard His call? Heís waiting patiently for you to let Him in. Your eternal destiny depends on it. I urge you to let Him in now, today, and then live for Him with all your heart and soul!
This song was written from 2 Cor. 6:2 scripture:
HAVE YOU ANY ROOM FOR JESUS?
Have you any room for Jesus, He who bore your load of sin?
As He knocks and asks admission, sinner will you let Him in?
Room for pleasure, room for business, but for Christ the crucified,
not a place that He can enter, in the heart for which He died?
Have you any room for Jesus, as in grace He calls again?
O today is time accepted, later you may call in vain.
Room and time now give to Jesus, soon will pass Godís day of grace;
Soon your heart left cold and silent, and your Saviorís pleading cease.
Room for Jesus, King of glory! Hasten now, His Word obey;
Swing the heartís door widely open, bid Him enter while you may.
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Thank you for sharing your testimony, Don. I've learned to lean on God as I walk through my valleys instead of going it on my own, and my life is so much better. I appreciate your transparency and your witness.
Okay, I finally took the time to read your testimony and all I can say is --WOW! This is a beautiful testimony! I like how you don't blame anyone or anything (other than Satan) for your bad choices at a youth, and your admission that your behavior choices were not really reflective of how you felt about your grandmother and mother. And most important, how it was Jesus who searched and saved you. I'm glad you have dedicated your life to sharing what God has done for you. May God continue to bless you and Carol as you continue to a blessing to others.
Don,that truly was a miracle of God that snatched you from sure destruction when you were young. God had His hand on you and knew your name even before the earth was formed! What a testimony to the saving grace of Jesus! I applaud your business success, your brilliance, your selection of such a fine wife and your determination these past several years to live for Jesus and to serve Him. I'm so glad you wrote this up for so many to enjoy. God bless you, Don.
Oh, Don, what a tremendous testimony! You've written it so clearly with a 'straight to the point' 'straight to the heart' style. I know this testimony has and will bless many with the mighty power and love of God. Thank you for writing this touching piece.
What a powerful testimony! I love the way you give credit to Jesus for finding you (too often, I'm afraid, folks think it's our job to "find Jesus," unaware we could never do that on our own).
I also appreciate how you point out you didn't need drugs or bad companions (which are often today's scapegoats) to go astray. Your message points out how much we need to beware for the devil like a roaring lion prowls around seeking someone to devour. This would be good reading for parents of young people, especially, so they can give warning. I can only imagine how your parents praised the Lord for answering their prayers for you. Good writing job, Don!
Are you sure you aren't my preacher?:) Wonderful clear testimony of God's plan of salvation for our lives. You said it all perfectly. May your writing be a blessing to others and lead others to the Jesus they need to know.Thank you!
"This is a true story. I know because itís my story about how Jesus found me and how He changed my life." And what a story it is! I don't usually read an article of this length, but your above words drew me in.
You are a wonderful writer and I look forward to reading more of your writings. Thank you for sharing from your heart.