Salvation Testimony

First, I want to begin by describing who I was before the Lord God Almighty so graciously saved me. I hated God. It was not so obvious, at least on the outside that I hated God, but I did. I came from a broken home and one that was filled with abuse, alcoholism, and pain. None of those things are a valid excuse for my hatred and anger at God, but in my own eyes they were sufficient.

As I grew up I learned that I could only count on myself and no matter what I could get myself out of any predicament. I came to rely only on what I could do by my own hand and had little regard for the promises and efforts of others. I was harboring a great deal of pain and anger and found an outlet for it all in service to the United States Army. I became very materialistic and constantly sought after what ever a successful career could bring me. I was and still am a depraved human being corrupted by sin; in God’s own words, a fool.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.   ~Psalm 14:1-3

I did not like Christians and in fact I would mock and ridicule them. I loved engaging them in some argument and trying to trip them up with my own ideas and lies. I hated the idea of church and preachers. The very thought of them brought up images of lies and hypocrisy. I thought Christianity was for weaklings and fools. I remember even daring God to strike me dead if He really existed. Even now I shudder to think at what I deserved had not God been so merciful to me.

My call to salvation began in January 1994 at 33 years of age. I was attending an Army school at Gowen Field, Idaho. While there I met a man whom at first I shrugged off as one of those weak minded Christians. His name is Hurston Hall. I will never forget how the first few days at the school I and others laughed and snickered at him as he sat alone and asked God’s blessing on his meals.
God was drawing me to Himself through this faithful man’s quiet and humble testimony. I found myself drawn to him not knowing it was the Lord whom he represented that I heard calling. I began spending time with Hurston; all the while he would share his faith with me. I even found myself attending a church service with him one evening.

After returning home to my wife and children, I quickly fell back into my old patterns of serving self and ignoring God. Then one day, on May 27, 1994 I met the Lord. It is hard to describe exactly what happened because so many things happened at once. I was driving a work vehicle that someone else had used the day before at approximately 10 am that morning. I was on my way back to the downtown office of the Division of Narcotic Enforcement (where I worked) when I turned on the car radio. Whoever had used it before me had left the radio on a Christian station and when the radio came on a man was quoting Scripture…

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.   ~Philippians 2:9-11

I had turned the radio on in the middle of this man quoting a passage and when I heard it, I was instantly changed forever. God used to both kill me and save me. This is the part that is hard to explain because so many things happened at the same time in the blink of an eye. Those words were like a sword piercing my heart and they cut so deep and completely that I saw myself, for the first time, as God saw me. I saw my sin and rebellion for what it was. All my blasphemy and hatred for God was laid bare and by it, I died…

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.  ~Hebrews 4:12,13

I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.  ~Romans 7:9-11

I saw my sin and I saw all the times in my life I had nearly died. I have had many close brushes with death over my life. There were horrific car accidents, accidental shootings, near drowning, sickness, accidents, choking and falls from heights; I could just keep going on. Suffice to say there were many and every one of them passed by my eyes in that split second after I heard the Word of God. Immediately I began to tremble and weep out load as the Spirit of God convicted of my sin and rebellion.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.  ~Psalm 51:1-4

I was frightened beyond description that the LORD of all creation was the One I had offended with my sin and blasphemy. I had wronged God! Jesus was, and is, the One Whose name is above all other names! I knew instantly that I deserved hell and that there was certainly no good in myself that would make up for all that I had done, said, and thought. I knew also that the only recourse I had was to throw myself on the mercy of God and beg for forgiveness. In the end it was not my weeping, begging, or pleading that gained favor with God bringing forgiveness, but His own inherent merciful and sovereign goodness…

For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”  ~Romans 9:15

In my ignorance of where God can be found I felt as if I needed to get to a church to pray and ask God’s forgiveness. In my mind’s eye I could see a church steeple that I had driven past many times so I went there. I was weeping and shaking and pleading with God the whole way. When I arrived at the church I came whipping and sliding into the parking lot. All I wanted to do was go inside and pray before God.

After I parked the car and shut off the engine I saw a man sitting on the tailgate of a truck working on a weed eater and two other men mowing the church lawn. I tried to regain control of myself and quickly wiped the tears from my eyes as I approached the man sitting on the tailgate of the truck. I approached him and wondered if he would think I was crazy since I pulled into the parking lot rather recklessly and was again weeping. I tried to speak to him asking if it was possible to go inside the church and pray. I asked if there was a preacher or someone who could let me in. I continued to reassure him I only wanted to go in and pray.

I truly believed the man would run me off or call the police, but he calmly put the weed eater down and said he was the pastor and he could let me in the church. We walked up to the side door and he unlocked it and invited me in. I began weeping again and the pastor led me up the stairs and when we got to his office I asked to be shown the sanctuary and reiterated that I only wanted to pray. He led me to the sanctuary and after he opened the door to it, I no longer cared about anything other than bowing and praying before God. I ran to the front of the sanctuary and fell on my face and began praying and weeping again.

“I loathe my life; I will give free utterance to my complaint; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. I will say to God, Do not condemn me; let me know why you contend against me.  ~Job 10:1,2

After I had been praying for a few minutes I realized that the pastor had not left yet because I had just heard the doors close. I just knew that now he would go call the police after witnessing my behavior. I didn’t care and continued praying to God. After a few more minutes I knew I was forgiven, again not because of my much praying, but because of God’s own goodness and promise to those who seek Him and are broken…

But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.  ~Deuteronomy 4:29

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.  ~Psalm 51:17

The moment I knew I was forgiven, I began praising God and thanking Him for His mercy and for the forgiveness I found in Christ. Jesus had now become most precious to me! I saw His value and his worth, I saw and experienced the mercy and cleansing He had provided for so many before me…

And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.  ~Mark 1:40-42

The story continues including my meeting with the pastor later (after finding out he did not call the police), my arrival at home later that afternoon and trying to explain to my wife what had happened to me. I also spent most of the day calling people to tell them I had been wrong about God and that God had saved me. I called Hurston Hall, whom I had met at that Army school in January to tell him the good news and to ask for his prayers and guidance. I also called my brother to begin what was an eleven year process of witnessing and evangelizing.

My brother recognized that I was so different that he feared for my wife and children’s safety because he could only surmise that I must have had a brain embolism that burst and had gone insane. He offered to call the police for my wife and have me picked up for observation.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  ~2 Corinthians 5:17

I give all glory and praise and honor to the God of Heaven and my Savior Jesus Christ!