I “got saved” in 1974 by going up front for an altar call. It seemed important to my mom so I just followed her up there! A nice man in a suit led me in a prayer, shook my hand and gave me a New Testament proclaiming “Welcome to the family of God”! Although I had done everything I was told that I had to do to be safe from Hell, in hindsight it is clear that there was no real transformation in my life. I was the same person I was before I went up front (but now I had a copy of the New Testament)!
The next 15 years were spent in high school and college where I was able to explore every possible meaning of the term “debauchery”. During that time if you would have asked me if I knew God I would have said yes; and if you asked me if I were going to Heaven I would have said yes… after all, I did everything they asked me to do (and I had a copy of the New Testament).
In 1987 I began to have dreams about Jesus and Heaven. They were intense dreams that left me feeling as if somehow I had missed something. The church I had grown up in was going through a split (and they clearly hadn’t left me with any answers either) so I decided to try a different church. The new church was full of nice people who really seemed to take all this “Christian stuff” seriously, so I began to attend regularly. While I still didn’t know the risen Christ, I felt like I was on the right path. About three months later the Pastor of the church informed us that he had met someone else on a recent trip and was going to be leaving his wife and kids to pursue a relationship with her. That was about all I needed to hear; once again, the church (or maybe more accurately men) had let me down and stopped attending church.
The dreams however continued and I was compelled to find a church (my reasoning was basic: church was where God was supposed to be, so to find Him, I would have to find His church). In the process of looking I came to a church that was nothing at all what I expected. They met in a Grange Hall in a small town (the Pastor was even preaching in jeans and flip-flops the first Sunday I attended!). He said that a group was going to Europe for a short term mission in a few months and he was looking for people who wanted to be part of that group. I was excited immediately! (Not because I wanted to share the Gospel, but rather, I figured that I could see Europe on a dime! They had host houses for us to stay in and most of the meals would be provided… all I needed was airfare to Munich.)
I realized of course that I would be expected to do Christian things like pray, and bless the food and I knew I would have to keep a tight rein on my tongue, but I reasoned that I could do those things with little effort (after all, Europe was calling!)
The flight and subsequent drive to the first host home was long. We had been on planes and in cars near 24 hours and everyone in the group was exhausted when we finally arrived. The Pastor of the church we were visiting welcomed us and said that they would have a Morning Prayer meeting at 5:30 if anyone wanted to come (I remember thinking FAT CHANCE!). About 5 the next morning however, our pastor got up for the meeting… that was the craziest thing I think I had ever seen anyone do in my life, but for the first time in my life I had met someone who actually believed all this “Christian stuff”!
Over the next 2 weeks we prayed with a lot of folks and the pastor shared at a number of meetings. We had traveled to Austria for a 2 night conference that was held in a quaint hotel and, as normal, the pastor asked us to come up and pray for the folks. This time however, something quite unexpected happened! I put my hands on a young girl who had come up for prayer and when I did, the tangible power of God came over me. I knew immediately that she was sick and that if I continued with the prayer she would be healed (and that if I was afraid, and stopped, God would find someone else to “obey Him”). My hands were shaking as was most of the rest of my body. The room felt dramatically warmer than it had been a few moments ago and as I prayed I could feel waves of power move through me to her. My Prayer had changed as well... it went from something like: “O Lordeth, who liveth in Heaveneth…” to: God, if you can do something for her…”
At the end of the evening I was exhausted, but on a high I had never experienced before. For the first time in my life, I knew the power of God was not only real, but it was actually available to His people today! All I could say was “He is real”… I was telling everyone who would listen. I told my pastor and he said ever so quietly “I know”. And I charged back “No, not just book real… really real. Tangibly real!” Again with a smile he said, “Yep! I know.”
From that moment on my life was changed forever. You see, I thought Jesus was a good guy who came to earth, did the work that was laid out for him, and then went back to Heaven. I thought that He would sort things out when He got back. I had no idea that He was active and working in people’s lives on a daily basis. Everything was new to me. I no longer struggled to read the New Testament… I couldn’t get enough. I had to have the Old Testament as well. I had to go to every meeting I could to be with Him and, as I sought Him out; He began to meet me in a very supernatural way.
I found out sometime later that the girl I had prayed for that night was in fact quite sick, but had been healed. I was never so arrogant as to think that her healing was a product of my "obedience"; I always understood that it was solely a product of the Father's great love for her. People ask me all the time about the 'deep things of God'... are you ready? Here it is at no charge... the deepest thing I have ever come to know: "The Father Himself loves you" and it is a love that will move mountains and even overcome death... if you will let it.