My wife Becky had been going to church regularly for some months by this time. She would come home and tell me all about the message, what she had just read in the Bible, or had studied with a friend from church. I listened patiently, and tried to be encouraging and attentive, but in reality I felt indifferent about it all.
Then one day friends of ours told us of how God had helped them through a recent tragedy. I hadn’t known before then that they were Christians. A few days later my best friend told me how he had just recently turned to God as a result of a tough breakup in a relationship. He continued to tell me of his experiences, prayers being answered and peace found on the particularly tough days. “One day it finally hit me and the evidence was irrefutable: God changes peoples lives!” One day it finally hit me and the evidence was irrefutable: God changes people’s lives! Fortunately, I had friends and a wife who showed me and told me that you come to God through Jesus Christ.
I realized I needed to find out about God, so one night I picked up Becky’s Bible and began to read it like any other book, from the beginning. It was easy to read, interesting and made me think and question. I examined the rest of the book and found a reading guide which laid out a plan for two weeks—a chapter a day about the life of Jesus Christ. I wanted to know more about Him, so that’s what I did. At the time I didn’t realize the significance of how God was working in my life. I had never been interested in reading a single word of the Bible and now I was reading a whole chapter a day and not giving it a second thought. Only God could make something like that happen.
A few days later God worked another change. Every Sunday Becky was going to church, and every morning she would ask me if I wanted to go. She never pressured me, and I always said, “No”. I had turned my back on church probably in late high school. I just didn’t believe in organized religion. I saw hypocrisy and damage done by people who claimed to be Christians and felt I was better off making my own way spiritually. Before, I had felt that the pursuit of God was very important in life and I wanted to be supportive of my wife’s quest to find God, but it was not for me. I didn’t want to go and pretend and by my falsehood make a mockery of what she was trying to do. Now, suddenly, after a few days of Bible reading and asking her questions, I said I wanted to go to church with her. Not only that, I suggested that we start going to Sunday School as well. She was very surprised, but very happy that I was going to church with her.
The services that day were really good. They taught and preached straight from the Bible, and everyone had one. They believed what they said and could explain it all from the Word. So many people welcomed me personally and warmly and with sincerity in their eyes. This place was different. It was comforting, welcoming, and real. “By now I knew that God was working in my heart, but I didn’t know what it meant or what I needed to do.” I wanted to come back next week and go to the evening service too. And that week I wanted to see what the Wednesday service was like. Soon we were attending every service at Lehigh Valley Baptist Church. Before I knew it I had agreed to do a personal Bible study. The invitations during the service were really working on me. My chest would get tight, and I was strongly moved to do something but I didn’t know what. By now I knew that God was working in my heart, but I didn’t know what it meant or what I needed to do.
During my first Bible study, I learned how the Bible was true and not just a coincidence or a collection of stories by men. I was convinced. This is the Word of God—it is all true, and God speaks through it. The next study showed me the difference between a person who is lost and a person who is saved. I realized that I was lost and guilty of breaking God’s law. I was sorry for my sin and knew I needed to be saved. As I explained to the man doing the study with me how I had been feeling and what was happening, he said, “You need to do business with God.” The feeling was overwhelming.
I realized on the way home that everything I had—my house, my wife, my artistic ability—I had done nothing to receive them. It was all because of the grace of God. If anything, I was fortunate that I had not ruined all of it. I realized that even my college days which I had always thought of as being so fun and enlightening were filled with sin and needed to be repented of.
I went home that night wanting to do business with God, but I got distracted. The whole next day at work I prayed about it. I tried to eliminate all the distractions I could and asked God for help and guidance. That night Becky and I read together from the Bible. Afterwards I was unsettled and my mind was wandering. I knew I needed to be saved, but I wasn’t sure what the next step was. (Salvation, saved and born again are Biblical terms referring to the forgiveness of sins by God and the rescue of a person from the power and penalty of that sin. This is God’s requirement for everlasting life.)
Suddenly a though came to mind clear and strong, “Do you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, Brian?” It caught me off guard. I thought, “What was that?” The thought came again, “Do you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, Brian?” The fact that the question was addressing me by name demanded my attention. I knew the question was serious and real. The thought came a third time, “Do you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, Brian?” I understood in an instant that the thought would not be repeated again. The answer had to be given. Even to keep silent was saying, “No.” As the question was asked that third time, I could sense it receding. I reached out like I was trying to catch a falling vase before it shattered. I said, “Yes!”
In an instant I was fully aware something important had happened. I even asked myself, “What just happened?” Was it all a dream or maybe that state of half thinking and half dream just before sleep? It sure felt like it happened, but I had to be sure. I remembered from church that the Bible is where to go to ascertain the truth. I immediately got up, took Becky’s Bible, and began to read in John’s gospel. It did not take long reading the book of John to come to John 1:43. The words leaped off the page to me when Jesus said to Phillip, “Follow me.” He was talking to me, too, “Follow me.” “Christ had invited me to follow Him and my answer was Yes!” Christ had invited me to follow Him and my answer was “Yes!” He used other verses as well that evening to assure me.
I have seen changes in myself since that day, proving that I have “become a new creature.” I can’t listen to FM radio anymore—I find the songs distracting and offensive. The frustration I felt at work has been waning. I look forward to church—it is energizing and feels like home. I haven’t missed a day of reading the Bible and don’t give it a second thought. When people curse around me, I wince inside whereas before I would be right there with them. And now when I pray and ask Jesus to forgive my sins of the day, I am truly sorry for being the one who nailed Him to the cross. All these things have just been happening. Not once have I thought and determined, “OK, today I’m going to change this about me.” I realize now that these changes and even my salvation are all God’s doing. God saved me and God is changing me. I have no desire to go back to my old self. All the glory and praise belongs to God. Every step has been His. I did nothing. Jesus Christ did it all. I merely said, “Yes.”