pastor of Apostolic Life Tabernacle UPC in Milford,
Connecticut, and as a Christian, I am happy to be able to tell you a few
things that Jesus has done for me. There is so much more. A number of times,
he has delivered me from sickness, and He has worked wonderful solutions
to problems which my wife, and children and I faced. But most of all, I
want to briefly tell about the road which brought me into His truth, to
become a child of God.
This text is from a tract which I published while serving as Outreach Director at Bethel Pentecostal Church.
My long time interest in spiritual matters and philosophy became torturous as I neared adulthood. When fishing, and playing baseball, reading and hiking, I had always thought about truth. "What is truth? What is behind all that I see here? Isn't there more to life? Why can't anyone understand my feelings?" I now know that these are common thoughts, but to a young man who found no help in adults and teachers around me, these ideas changed from intrigue to desperation. I found that the "deeper" individuals were often those who were rebellious and I joined with whoever showed more guts, and was more independent. Since this was the peak of the "psychedelic drug period", by age 16, in 1969, I was in the company and practice of people seeking spiritual experiences with drugs.
For seven years I was involved with every drug I could find which would seem to lead to a new state of mind. More and more often the "trip" would become terrifying and lead into the most dangerous circumstances. Very commonly I would be genuinely surprised to have survived the experiences. My associates were typically immoral, and self-centered. I feared becoming like them. During this time normal relationships and affairs became more and more difficult. My experiences led to spiritism and practice of magic arts. I finally realized that to me, it had become good to scorn life itself. With more disgust for my own life and myself, and fear of what might come next that with resolve, I started to back off from using drugs.
I had accumulated a vast library covering many religions and metaphysical subjects and read constantly, spending most of my time alone, or with one of various girlfriends. I spent time practicing Yoga, meditating, and exploring physics, and music. I received an opportunity (I now realize it was the hand of God) to become involved in a microelectronics business. I had studied certain subjects which were of common interest to my employer. He was a very brilliant man who was quadriplegic, and I began to work as a secretary to him and for his company, also attending to his needs by dressing, feeding and driving him. I went to conferences and met his associates: energetic and progressive technologists like him. Soon, I began to work with the engineers, and finally began designing equipment. In spite of all this, my personal life was not complete. In my own eyes, I was still a disgrace to life. Also, the anxiety disorder which had started as a teenage was now with me all the time. I was constantly panicked and afraid of sudden death though I kept a demeanor of calm. Now and then it was too much to bear. I sought psychologists and piled up medical bills. No one could help.
I had married shortly after finding this career and had a child. With pressures of a new marriage and still deeply hostile toward the society which I had become a part of, troubles soon returned. I became more antisocial. I excelled at my career, but found no satisfaction in being suddenly normal, and still longed for someone to talk to about deeper matters. While having left drugs behind, I began to drink, and spend late nights in bars. All the social ills which go along with "bar life" got attached to me, and I let life go. We tried going to church a few times, but I had grown up as a Methodist, routinely in the church (my father was a church board member, and my Sunday School teacher) and soon recognized that many of the religious people knew about as little about a real God and how to touch Him as I did. My family was not equipped to complete the course, and at the age of 27 after just 3 years, my wife divorced me. At the time I was working on some nuclear power plant equipment in Vermont, and since the industry had almost died, I was almost out of a job. With no family, and having rooms in my house rented out to people who were insulting and cold toward me, this was a very bad time. My life seemed to have come to an end. I spent a week in the hospital with a heart ailment. On my 29th birthday, I got out of the hospital and came home to nothing. So many years and so many miles to lead to nothing! One night as I worked late, alone amidst the last humming machines about to be sent to our customer my phone rang. It was a man who I had worked for 5 years before, back in Connecticut who was now, at 10:30pm with no options, asking me to join the company as a Vice President. Of course, I accepted.
In a month I had moved to New Haven, and was wrapped up in new exciting work. On paper, disaster was behind me, but when I stopped working my furious pace, it caught up. The anxiety would get very severe and no longer drinking much or taking drugs, I suffered deep depressions.
Gradually, I became aware of a certain bookkeeper at the office. She had a atmosphere about her which was different than anything I had ever felt. There was strength in her character, and some vibrant life which caused me to notice that she was also very clean and modest looking, and very sincere. While she was not exceptional in any natural way, I knew that I was seeing a person unlike any I had ever met. Normally disposed to keep to myself, and very shy as a result of my depression and anxiety, I felt determined to talk to her. After I had asked her a number of times to have lunch together, she agreed. One evening as we were talking together, I revealed a little sense of how unhappy my life was.
Without hesitation, and for several hours she began to tell me the most beautiful words which I had every heard. She told me of how Jesus Christ had come to earth, as God became man, to experience the pains and sorrows which all men and women must because of sin. He loved us, she said, so much that he died upon the cross to bear the penalties for our sins and to buy us back from the slavery of that sin, to Himself. My mind reeled! "Where do I know this from?" My ego tried to find some way to explain that I already knew this and had it cataloged somewhere but it didn't work. My heart was crying out "I have heard about this, but I have never really stopped to think about it what it means! I have never BELIEVED it, and now Jesus Christ Himself seem to be speaking through this lady's lips and telling me about Himself!". But it was more. As though lightening had struck my mind and burned the reality in my deepest heart, I knew that THIS was the truth for which I had sought since I was a small child. I though about Him. Jesus! He was there all the time, and I never knew it!
Right away, I wanted more of this experience. I thought, I have not nearly worn my life out on all that junk so that I can now wait and see. I must touch this truth now! It was late, and she said to go home, and come in the morning to go to church with her and her parents. What an experience! The people were different, they seemed peaceful and perfect, and it occurred to me that I would have walked right by these people a week ago. Now I realized that they had the Living God in their midst, and were holy. There was very little preaching that day, but as we sang lively songs such as "At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, all the burdens of my heart rolled away", the Spirit of God dealt with my heart to turn aside from my old dead life of sin and despair, and to receive the promise of a new life. I felt so small in the presence of God, but so good to repent in that wonderful place of worship.
I did not know what to do right away, but got a Bible and for the first time, really started to read the amazing book. I found that this turning toward God and leaving sin was called repentance. I was determined to get rid of anything which was between me and the Light which I had experienced. Soon, I saw how the apostles had baptized believers like myself in the name of Jesus Christ, and they became a part of God's family receiving His name, and washing away the sin, and old life. I cannot describe how, for the first time I could ever remember, I felt free from the life which had always been troubled. Six months later, as I gave myself completely to God, he filled me with the Holy Spirit and I spoke in languages which I had never learned, as the Bible tells us that they did on the day of Pentecost, after Jesus arose and became our High Priest, and the one and only head of the church! Soon I found that God had also given me the privilege of preaching the same gospel to others who, like myself, were all their lives searching for truth! I knew at last, why I had been born.
Space is gone in this little booklet to say more, but let me encourage you: no matter who you are, God has the same blessing in store for you. Read about God's great plan in the Bible and see how it was meant to be. Let someone teach you a home Bible study and experience the peace of God as only His Spirit and Word can bring it to your life! Join us as brothers and sisters with everlasting life Jesus Christ. The promise cannot fail, if you receive it!
Saved, but still in the hand of the Master Builder, - Mark Bassett