Wednesday, 7 February 2007

My Testimony

Just in case my reader(s) might be interested, I thought I would give my story here in a post and the link to it over to the left, because it’s too long to add to my profile. Frankly, I’m not sure whether it is optimism or arrogance that would lead me to believe that I have any readers at all, or, if I do, whether they would be interested at all in what I am about to write.

I was born in 1945, a month or so after WW2 ended in Europe and a couple of months before the atomic bomb was dropped in anger for the first time in history. I remember exactly where I was when I first heard Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and when President Kennedy was shot.

My maternal grandfather (he died before I was born) had been a Methodist minister in Southern Ontario until 1925, when his denomination became part of the United Church of Canada. My mother, then, was a loyal churchgoer and I grew up going to Fifty United Church in Winona Ontario, every Sunday of my life, until I was about 20. It really meant very little to me, other than the fact that all my friends were there. In the mid ‘60’s the United Church entered the “God is dead” debate, and actually seemed to acknowledge the position as having some credibility. Frankly, I didn’t care whether He was dead or not, because I really didn’t believe in Him, but I was disgusted by the fact that for twenty years the church had been telling me one thing about this “God”, then seemed to be willing to so quickly discard everything they had held on to all this time. I thought to myself, “What’s the point? If they don’t really believe what they’ve been saying all this time, why should I hang around?” So I left.

For the next twenty-five years I focused on the usual young-adult pursuits. I got married (my beautiful wife, Eva and I will celebrate our 40th anniversary in July, 2008), had a couple of kids (girls) and worked to be successful in my career. By the time I was 45 I had most things that a man of my age could want. We had moved to Alberta and owned a fairly successful small business, a nice house, a couple of nice cars. There seemed to be nothing lacking in my life.

I can still remember the phone call. The woman on the other end of the line said they were opening a new church in our neighbourhood (St Albert, Alberta) and would I be interested in receiving some information? For some reason, without really thinking, I said, “OK.”

It turned out to be a church plant of Crestwood, a PCA church in Edmonton. We went as a family to their opening service, in a local elementary school lunchroom. It was not at all like what I remembered as church. Whereas church for me had always involved thundering organ music, this one had a guitarist and keyboard. Instead of all old hymns, these people mixed in more modern choruses as well. For some reason, even though it was all new and different to me, I had a strange sense of “coming home.” We began to attend every Sunday.

The pastor started a Bible study on the book of James, and I joined it. After a while, I was even invited to play my guitar on the music team (my daughters sort of shoehorned me on to it by nagging the worship leader.) The worship leader, Andy, and his wife Michelle wanted to start another Bible Study and I volunteered our house, because they lived in Edmonton. Gradually, for one reason or another, attendance dwindled down to just them and me, but they kept on coming faithfully, every week. I look back now and consider them my spiritual mentors for their faithfulness.

It was on a business trip through British Columbia one weekend in the spring of 1991 when God basically just stepped in front of me. Over the course of three or four days, He revealed Himself to me in such a sequence of events that I had no choice but to acknowledge Him as Lord of my life.

I will not list every specific event here, because I have learned from hearing the testimonies of others and giving my own, that many of the details of someone’s conversion experience are often truly meaningful only to the individual involved. They are ways in which a person feels God communicated with him that would not carry nearly the same meaning to his audience. But here is an outline.

In Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island, through a particular set of circumstances, God stepped in front of me in so literal a way that it was like walking into an invisible wall. At that point, I knew something had happened. It was almost as if a door had been closed behind me. I knew at that moment that God was real.

A couple of days later, in a motel in Kelowna, I decided that instead of going down to the bar for a drink, I would stay in my room and read the Bible. I read all the way through the book of Acts and started on Romans. Somewhere between chapters 3 and 5 of Romans my eyes were opened. I paused at Romans 3:21 & 22 and read them over and over again, “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known… This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe…” I remember thinking, “I’ve never heard this before – it’s all new.” Now, I’m sure I didn’t go to church for twenty years without it at least having been read in my hearing. But I was truly “hearing” it for the first time in my life.

The next day, in Salmon Arm, BC, God’s intervention continued and finally, alone in my motel room, I had no choice but to fall back onto the bed, tears flowing, raise my hands to Him and say, in gratitude for what He had done for me through Jesus Christ, “God, I am Yours! I give you my life.” I had just bought a new 12-string guitar (which I still have, and which was instrumental in this whole series of events) and the first song I played, to an audience of One, there by myself in the motel room, was, “Thou Art Worthy.”

That was years ago. There are a few things I like to emphasize regarding my story. The first is that I was basically a pretty good guy. I was not saved out of a life of drugs or alcohol or promiscuity. I was the same as any number of people out there who probably think they are pretty good people as well. But I needed a saviour as much as anybody. God is perfect; we are not. No one measures up to His standards. So we need an advocate, a surrogate who does. That one is Jesus Christ. Only through faith in him and surrendering our lives can we stand before God and be 'covered,' so to speak, by his perfection and righteousness.

The next couple of points I mention for all Christian parents who are worried about their children falling away from the faith. They are these: first, keep taking them to church. Especially through their teen years. Even if they give you a hard time about it and even if they don't seem to be getting anything out of it. I am convinced that there is a process of "osmosis" that takes place, even if they don't seem to be paying any attention. The Bible tells us that God's word will not return to Him empty (Isaiah 55: 10,11), but will accomplish the purpose for which He sent it.

Second, keep praying for them. My mother, even though she was in what we would consider a liberal (now, even, an apostate) church, and she herself may have subscribed to some of its liberal views, knelt by her bed every night and prayed for her children. For the whole twenty-five years between my church experiences she would ask me if I was going to church, practically every time she saw me. I know many brothers and sisters in Christ whose own children seem to have fallen away, who are fearful and frustrated at their children’s unbelief, and pray fervently that God would intervene in their lives and bring them to faith. Well, I was 45 before I came to a true faith in Jesus Christ. How faithful my mother was, how patient, and, I like to think, how trusting in her Heavenly Father, that His will would be done in my life.

And how much more patient was God Himself with me, all those years, waiting for the right time to reel me in.

Take Care

8 comments:

Clonic said...

That is a very touching testimony. I'm glad you shared it at Challies.com, it is one of my favourite sites too.

Nikki said...

Thanks for posting your testimony! I enjoyed reading the ways that God has worked in your life.

clonic said...

Hi John K, it's me again. I started writing my testimony too, but it got so long. In case you are interested, the first part is here -->

http://clonic.wordpress.com/2007/04/18/my-journey-to-christianity-part-i/

The Nicky said...

John, Thank you for the inspiration of your testimony. No, I do not use that word lightly...I never attended any church as a child. God was "assumed" to be there, but He didn't require our help to get His work done; at least that was the flavor of my father's beliefs. Consequently, I fell into just about all the traps in this life the Enemy could lay before me. Not until my late thirties did I actually hear God speaking to me, much as you recounted here. It is good to know that others have found their way home, even at so late a date in life. Your writing creates in me a desire to focus my own work toward higher ends, and again, I thank you, and I thank Him for bringing you to my notice.

Helen and Hell said...

Thank you for sharing this experience.
I am seeking but sometimes forget to just be sought.

Canadian Pragmatist said...

Coincidences aren't what 'smart' people consider enough of a reason to believe in god. That's all I have to say.

http://reaching-oblivion.blogspot.com/

Graeme Sutherland said...

Hi there,

Thanks for sharing your testimony here :o)

I came across your site when I googled the Psalm, "If the Lord had not been on our side..." - I'm preparing to preach in Church tomorrow for the first time and remembered that psalm from "back in the day".

Best regards!

Graeme

John K said...

Thanks Graeme, and may the LORD be on your side tommorow. If you are faithful to His word and obedient to His Spirit, He surely will.

Take Care