On the way to work this morning, I had some time to think about a period in my life when I started attending college. I had one of those times I like to refer to as “lucid moments” when I see things clearly, as they really are and not through my sinful, self-centered perception. At least, I think that’s what happens. My life at that point in time was far from what I would call ‘Christ-centered.’ It was more like ‘sin-centered’ to accurately attach a label to it. I was a young man, fresh out of high school and eagerly looking for some place to fit in within a world I knew nothing about. The guidance (I thought it to be ‘nagging’ at the time) of my parents was miles and miles away. My friends from the social circle I enjoyed in High School had pretty gone their own separate ways after high school and I put no effort into keeping in touch with them nor with God, either. So I found a different social circle, one that knew not of God and therefore could not be a voice of conviction to my sin.
Gone were the days of teen fellowship gatherings on weekends and Christian social life that we enjoyed with each other during weekend worship sessions and “mission trips.” Sadly, my Lord Jesus became someone I relegated to only thinking about on Sundays when (and if) I went to Church. I was about as ‘back-slidden’ as I could get. Fortunately, Jesus never relegated me to the unloved. I felt spiritually very much alone and the square peg in the round hole. In retrospect, I believe that the Holy Spirit was working on me the whole time because no matter how much I drank or drugged, or how much of the time I spent pursuing some disgusting perversion, I always felt ashamed and knew what I was doing was wrong. My time in that world led to more and more drugs and drinking and associations with people I definitely would not want to associate with today — unless sharing the Gospel with them! God was calling me to a true and authentic repentance and conversion, yet I resisted. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. -James 4:8
No matter how bad things got — and they got pretty bad — there was still the ever-present voice of God telling me how much He loved me and wanted me to come back to Him. When I was still, there was God. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. -Psalms 46:10
I heard a preacher say that God never sends anyone to Hell that doesn’t want to go there. I believe it; in fact, that is the only way to reconcile the fact that there is a Hell and God is love. The Bible makes Hell sound pretty terrible. What exactly Hell is really like I do not pretend to know and never intend to find out — thanks to Jesus. He makes you that same offer. Believe me, the life of love and peace He offers is so much more than you can know without having a personal relationship with Him.
I know with certainty now that Jesus paid the price for my sin and has given me the unshakable hope of eternal life. My life is changed. I’m in my sixties. I survived the days of my youth and have a great marriage and career. More importantly than anything, I have a Savior! I do not pretend to be without sin, but I do have a deep understanding in my heart of what 1 John 1:9 means: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I hope and pray that this is something that is a reality in your life, as well.