He asked me, “If you died tomorrow, do you know for sure that you would go to Heaven?”
I tried to compose myself quickly and replied with all the ‘yes’ reasons I could think of: I had served as president of the church council, helped at the chicken suppers, and a bunch of other things I thought were relevant.
I think he figured out pretty quickly that I was not a believer of Jesus Christ.
It caused me to think though and I reflected on the previous weeks:
Our children had changed schools, from public to Christian; Judy and I were meeting quite a few new folks, other parents.
One of the other fathers had befriended me and invited me to go to a Christian Businessman’s luncheon. The speaker turned out to be an older Fraternity Brother who I knew and liked, and he was going to speak on “The Best and Greatest Investment he had made in his life.” I thought at the time, that it would be great to hear, thinking I could pick up a tip on investing. He ended up telling his story as to how he had accepted Jesus into his life and how it had changed his life.
A few weeks later that same new friend invited me to the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, where 2,000 men and women would attend. The Speaker was Colonel Heath Bottomly, a distinguished military man. During his talk, he said: “I am a sinner, you are a sinner, and we are all sinners.” As he declared this, he pointed emphatically to everyone in the room. I wanted to duck down when his finger swept by. I thought, “You might be a sinner, but I sure was not one!”
Afterwards, I thought about it and concluded to myself that if I was not a sinner then I was equal to Jesus and that certainly was not true.
Shortly after that experience, we began visiting a church that was in the same denomination as the new school our girls were attending. It was at that point that the Pastor came by to visit and get to know us, and ask that question, “If you died tomorrow, do you know for sure that you would go to Heaven?”
My life had been a pretty good one so far. I worked in the family business, traveling and hiring and training sales people. It was a growing business. I met Judy at college and we married shortly after I graduated. We raised three daughters and now are proud grandparents to 11.
I was 39 years old when my girls changed schools and we changed churches.
The day after that Pastor came to our house, I went out of town on a business trip. I was in Indiana at a Holiday Inn waiting for calls to set up job interviews. Things were strangely quiet that morning and, out of boredom, I picked up the Gideon Bible in the hotel room and tried to read. It just didn’t make any sense to me but I preserved. All that I had heard and witnessed over the past few weeks and months began to hit home, to hit me! God got my attention. I got down on my knees alone in that motel room, and prayed the Prayer of Salvation that the Pastor had shared the day before. I asked Jesus to come into my life and it was like a big load had been immediately removed off my shoulders. A peace came over me like I had never experienced before.
I was born again.
Prayer of Salvation: Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name. Amen. (Billy Graham)
Being a private person, I didn’t tell anyone at first because I actually didn’t think anyone would be interested or even care. I didn’t realize until later that my wife had been praying for me and my salvation for the past eighteen years!
A bit later, at a Thanksgiving service when folks were asked to share something they were thankful for, I stood up and shared my new faith. I began to attend Bible Study Fellowship and over the years have continued to delve into the study of God’s Word.
From that point on, Judy and I, in obedience to Jesus’ teachings, have taken many individuals under our wings and instructed them in the ways of the Lord, leading some to Christ and planting seeds to develop in others.
When I was a child, I can remember a radio program called “Life Begins at 40”. I thought that was the most stupid thing I had ever heard, thinking life would be ending at age 40, not beginning! Ironically, my new life in Christ started at age 40, and I am ever thankful.
“Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” John 3:3