I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still
The date was Sunday, July 13, 1986. My father and his newly turned 5-year old son were riding to church that morning. We typically went to church as a family on Sunday, but I don’t particularly remember my mother or my only brother at the time, Jordan, riding in the car with us.
My dad was talking to me about sin and hell. I didn’t really know much about either, but I knew I didn’t want to go to hell when I died. I don’t recall much of that conversation, but I vaguely remember praying a prayer. My baptism which shortly followed is also a vague memory.
Life went on as I grew up in your typical middle-class, American-Christian home. We faithfully went to church three times a week, went to a Christian school from K5-12th, and even went to Bible college for a period of time. By the age of 25, I had easily heard over 6,000 sermons, and that’s a conservative estimate. By today’s Christian standards I knew a lot about God, but I truly didn’t know God.
I was a lost, depraved, unregenerate man.
I don’t at all doubt my father’s motive that sunny July day. He was doing what he felt was right in telling me about Christ. Unfortunately, I was too young to truly understand. If anything, I was probably nodding in agreement and praying out of love for my dad. What child wants to disappoint their father (or mother)? I believe that kids will do what they’re told or is suggested to them regarding spiritual things, simply to please or not disappoint their parents. I am thankful for my parents, and it is because of their example that I have a thirst for Truth.
I’m not saying God in His sovereignty cannot save a child. He saves whomever He wants when He wants. We don’t have any control over that. We don’t determine our day of salvation; God does. But I find most childhood conversions highly suspect because a child doesn’t really understand the Gospel. Most children when they are “converted” at these early ages still believe in Santa Claus. Problem? I believe so. Speaking from a childhood “conversion” experience, I urge parents of young children to please be careful of these things.
But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace
Fast forward 30 years. A friend of mine who goes to our church named Justin Peters wrote a book regarding childhood conversions called “Do Not Hinder Them.” My wife and I had been doing a Bible study with Justin and his wife Kathy for a few weeks at this time, and we were discussing his book which I had recently read. I was astounded at how many times his words would jump off the page to me; as if he intimately knew my life story.
About four to six months prior to reading Justin’s book, I had noticed my affections started to change. I was drawn like a powerful magnet to the things of God. I was earnestly studying the Bible for the first time in my life. I replaced my daily politics/talk-radio podcast routine of the last 10 years with sermons and other theological teachings. I was reading books and commentaries about the Bible. My view of sin had radically changed. I was striving to be holy as God is holy. To sum it up in a sentence, I felt like a dehydrated, wilted 35-year old sponge under an open fire-hydrant of God’s sovereign grace. What was going on?
Through some serious and numerous conversations with Justin—who told me he had a similar salvation experience as well—I realized that somewhere within this brief aforementioned time frame of four to six months I had been converted! I believe March 28, 2017, was the day I fully realized my regeneration.
This was the day that I was literally driven to my knees by the realization of God’s salvific grace. I could not move. I was sobbing uncontrollably over the fact, that God, before the foundations of the world, had loved me first! The Holy Spirit had regenerated my heart and breathed new life into my soul. What an amazing, and truly humbling grace that Christ chose and loved me before I even existed!
Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You
Friend, God would have done us no wrong if He sent us all to an eternal hell. Every single one of us is born spiritually dead, (Ephesians 2) running as fast as we can to the fire. Romans 3:11 tells us that none seek after God. Without God’s sovereign grace, we would all spend an eternity facing God’s wrath.
I urge you, the reader of my testimony, to do what Paul urged the Corinthians to do when he said to examine yourself (2 Cor. 13:5) to see if you are in the faith. No doubt there are many people who had similar childhood experiences to mine that were not truly converted at that time. Do not rely on a vague memory of praying a cookie-cutter prayer. Nowhere in the New Testament will you find that salvation is about “accepting Jesus,” or “asking him in your heart.” It’s not there. What we are told again and again is to repent and believe.
Saturday, August 26, 2017, at 2:00 p.m. at the Marley Beach Campground, I will be getting scripturally baptized by my pastor, Jim Osman, at our church camp. All who can make it are invited; it would be great to celebrate this event with you. Praise be to God, great things He has done!
Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life