I grew up going to church as a child, learning all the usual Bible stories and songs. I had always believed in God yet had no relationship with Him. I understood that Jesus was the Son of God but had no thought of a relationship with him either. We went to church twice a week, and I was also part of the youth group. When I turned 18, I stopped going to church.
I have a distinct memory of the day I believe that God planted the seed that has brought me, ever so slowly, to where I am in my walk with Him today. I was in the Navy reserves when I was 21 and was required to spend two weeks a year serving aboard a ship. I was in Norfolk doing just that. We were a bunch of guys doing the usual sailor talk about the things we were going to do on shore leave – drinking and partying. There was this one individual whose name I do not know, nor would I recognize him today. The only thing I remember about him was he was trying to encourage others to read the Bible, specifically, Romans 10:9. Everyone was pretty much making fun of him. He didn’t recite it and I didn’t read it but him talking about Romans 10 stayed in my memory for years. Life went on, and I was pretty much leading a godless life. I was always pretty much deeply troubled and always felt a tremendous amount of guilt, not understanding where it came from – especially on Sunday mornings after having been out the night before. I couldn’t understand where this feeling came from, as I really had no one to answer to. Later I married, and that did not last, totally because of my restlessness.
Still, after all those years I remember that shipmate telling all to read Romans 10:9. Not understanding then, but now realizing that God wouldn’t let me forget, I picked up a Bible and after all those years finally read that passage. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Seemed too simple. I must need to do more. I now know that I don’t. Christ did it for me. I just needed to turn my life over to Him. That began my spiritual walk with Christ. I joined a couple of Bible studies over the years and learned much and pieced together those things of God I had learned as a child. I wish I could say it was an instant conversion, however, it was more like two steps forward, one step back for a while.
Today, along with my wife, Marie, we can clearly see God’s hand at work in our lives. She has taught me to have faith in all things, that God is in control. She has always lived by that and has taught me to as well. I have always loved that natural faith the she has. Good things that would happen years ago I thought were coincidences. Now I recognize God’s hand in all things. I call them “God-incidences.” He has walked side by side with me, and although things don’t always work out the way I would want or expect them to, in hindsight, I see where God was guiding me with His will for my life. My wife and I are part of a small group where we can share our lives with others. We have been very blessed by God and our desire has been to pass our blessings from God on to others.
I look forward to the day when I meet my shipmate in Heaven when I can thank him and tell him what he has done for me.