Over twenty-three years ago, this old man had a close encounter with God. It was the night of my grandson’s birth. The whole thing wasn’t going well — something was wrong. I cried out in despair and turned the situation over to God. He convicted me that night, letting me know that He wanted me to turn everything over to him, not just this situation. He already had bits and pieces of my life, but He wanted it all; I had been unwilling to let Him be Lord of my whole life. When I asked God to take care of my grandson, He said. “Trust Me.” That night I surrendered to Him completely, not knowing where that would lead me.
With me, God had His work cut out for Him (and still does)! For the first time – a major change began to take place in my life – the conversion of the Old Man into a New Man. In 2 Cor. 5:17, it says, “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; behold, old things have passed away, and all things have become new.” It also says in Romans 12:2, “Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you might prove God’s good, acceptable and perfect will.” That is what I wanted – to be in Christ, to take off the old and put on the new – to be renewed, to be transformed.
Those two verses gave me some clues: I had to be in Christ – put Him on – take Him in – I had to renew my mind – I had to begin thinking differently. 2 Cor. 10:5 provided more direction:
“Cast out things that are against the knowledge of God, and bring every thought under captivity to the obedience of Christ.”
Now if anyone had some casting out to do, it was me! It pointed out that if change was going to take place, I would have to bring my thoughts in line with Christ’s thoughts.
“Let this mind be in you which is in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 2:5
Finally, in John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine and you are a branch, if you abide in Me and I abide in you, you will bring forth much fruit. But without Me, you can do nothing.” I had to dwell with Jesus, invite him into my house (my life) and trust Him to produce good works.
Slowly, but surely, under God’s direction, with the Holy Spirit leading the way – directing, convicting, giving light, and encouraging me (Jn. 16:13-14), I began to make real progress. A lot of water has gone under my bridge in this journey of 81years. A number of truths have touched my heart; perhaps the most important lesson learned is that God is real – He is sovereign over everything; His Son, Jesus, died on the cross (Jn. 3:16), and that through His death and resurrection, and my acceptance of Him as my Lord and Savior (Is. 45:21), He has provided forgiveness for my sins, and the promise of eternal life with Him (Rom. 6:23).
My surrender to God (Col. 3:3) left me not knowing what was going to come of that decision. I cannot explain exactly how my life has changed since then. I can testify that much of what has happened has been supernatural. The Holy Spirit took charge and spoke to my heart; He nudged me in one direction or another, opening one door and closing another (Gal. 5:25). I had to be a willing participant in the process, and that was not a problem. Slowly, surely, and somewhat mysteriously, the old man is being transformed to the new man (Rom 6:6).
A strong desire to please myself has given way to a stronger need to please God and others. My work in the secular world has shifted to a greater focus on spiritual matters. I accepted an invitation to serve as an elder, a commitment to serve the church that lasted eighteen years. During that time I taught Sunday school, did some fill-in preaching, and served four times as chairman of the board; Mission work became a reality, and I was able to participate in five short-term mission trips; two to Honduras, and three to the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina. My wife and I have experienced a strengthened marriage relationship, and our loving family has grown both in numbers and in spirit.
To God goes the praise and the glory for all He has done in my life.