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What Jesus Did

Which Church is Right?

Trust Jesus

First Memories of God

Trouble with Faith 

Choosing God's Wisdom

Seeing the Real

Giving it up to God

The Silly Things We Do

Why Bother to Pray?

Trouble Trusting God?

A New & Better One

Why So Narrow-minded?

Faith in Jesus

The Others

By What Authority?

God Has a Plan

Dishonesty and its Cure

In Good Standing?

God Speaks

God's Unfailing Grace

Getting Real with God

The Bible Says

The Big Mystery

New Identity in Jesus

The Bible & Jesus

Celebrating Christmas

Celebrating Easter

Every Word of God

Some Days

Truth About Jesus

Time To Wait

Time to Look Up

Sharing the Hope

God of Justice

Unity or Doctrine?

Why Read the Bible?

Infinite Light of God

Into Eternity

Not Home Yet

To All Christian Workers

What Has Jesus Done?

What's Special About Jesus?

Ruined Souls & Ol' Snuff

 
 
 

 
 
 

 

What Jesus Did

 

I was only 17 years old, but I had already reached the end of my desire to live. I had no more reason to be here.

I had no family. My life of crime was partly to blame for that. There was also my refusal to work or go to school or to do anything meaningful with my life. My mom, of course, would probably have put up with it. But my step-dad had closed the door, telling me that I was no longer welcome in his house.

I had no friends. Not that I really understood then what it means to have friends. All my buddies were into crime and drugs, like I was. And while there was a certain amount of honor among thieves, I guess, that honor was always tossed aside when it got in the way of greed or escaping arrest or even the desire to have someone else's girl.

And I had played out my hand over and over, taking advantage of every friend I had. I had shown them all that they could never trust me. So now I had no one else to call on for a favor. I was all alone.

But not completely alone. I did have the law on my back. There were warrants out for my arrest. Mostly traffic violations: court agreements I had not kept and tickets that I had never paid. The police had never been able to prove my participation in any of the more serious crimes. So I guessed that I was lucky.

But who wanted this life? Not me. I had already fried my mind. My use of LSD and a long list of other drugs had left me without the ability to concentrate or think clearly. I was unable to sit still and do anything meaningful.

So it was obvious that I had no peace with God. And if a person is not at peace with God, then there can be no joy, no peace inside at all, and no honest hope of a better tomorrow. I was angry and ruined and without anyone to care in the world. I had no place to go, and no reason to stay.

I wanted out.

I had wrecked my car, so I walked for hours across the big city, making my way to a place on the freeway where I might at least be able to get a ride out of town. I needed to go away -- far away. It was not my first time to hitch rides. I had been traveling across the U.S. this way since I was 15. I had been alone out in the desert before, and I was thinking about that now. Maybe I would just go out into the desert and never come back.

I now walked backwards along the shoulder of the interstate, facing the traffic and holding my thumb out. Literally thousands of vehicles passed by but no one stopped. I walked down to where I finally had to climb over and walk down to the final stretch of interstate, the one that headed straight west out of the city. I knew that I should have better luck here, beyond the interchanges and all the local loops of freeway.

But I still waited and waited, walking backwards, holding out my thumb. Finally, a '61 Chevy pulled over and stopped. At last!

I hoped this guy would be going hundreds of miles into the west. But the first thing I noticed, as I reached for the door handle, was a big, black Bible sitting on the seat. I stepped back for a second, thinking I'd just waive the guy on. The last thing in the world I wanted now was some guy preaching at me. Life was already bad enough. But then I thought about the hours I'd been waiting for this ride. I needed to get moving. So I grabbed the handle, opened the door and got in.

Sure enough, Dan wasted little time in asking me if I knew the Lord Jesus. I gave him my automatic response to such questions. "Sure I do," I said. "I'm a member of Timbergrove Baptist Church, right here in town."

But Dan didn't stop. He said, "That's great, Jim." And then he went on talking about all the things Jesus had been doing in his life. He told about how Jesus had saved him from sin, and about how Jesus had called him to be a singer of the gospel message. And he told about how he and his Christian friends would go around singing and telling people about Jesus.

The odd thing is, I wasn't getting bored with what Dan was saying. He wasn't talking about church, about religion, about the Ten Commandments, or even a lot about sin. He was talking about real life, and about how Jesus had given him a really great life. Now Dan was doing good things, real things, meaningful things.

I found myself thinking of how great it would be to live like that. Waking up every day with a purpose and a list of good things I had to do that day. He also talked about all the other lives he knew of that had been changed by Jesus -- people whose live had been transformed as a result of the work that Dan and his Christian friends were doing. I thought of how I would like to have that kind of life. A life that makes a good and meaningful impact on the people around me. A life that helps to change the world in good ways.

I was sick and tired of my life of sin. I had nothing good to show for the years I had lived. All I had was a long list of crimes and other acts against all kinds of people -- acts against everyone I knew, plus lots of strangers. No wonder I was ready to die.

It would be great to be like Dan. But I knew it was too late for me. I'd already wasted my life, my mind, my body. I was too bad. I had gone too long in sin, too far down the wrong path. God already knew about me. He would never forgive all the stuff I had done, all the lies I'd told, the promises I had broken, the things I'd said in my rage -- even things I'd said to Him. No, it would be better for me to just go on out into the middle of nowhere, where I could never do anyone else any harm, and just die.

But still...

Dan was telling me that he was a college student, living at home. He was on his way home now, and he invited me to his folk's house for a good meal before I went on my way. I had no deadlines, no schedules to keep to, so I went along. And in his family, I could see the same power of Jesus Christ at work.

He then offered to let me meet some of the Christian friends he'd been telling me about. We went over to a friend's house where others were gathering. And again, that evening, I could see the grace of God in Jesus Christ at work in their lives. All of them told of how they had been lost sinners until Jesus came along and "found them," setting them free, giving them a new and meaningful life. Some of them were now singers or musicians. Some had become preachers, and some taught others about the kingdom of God in Jesus Christ.

It was wonderful, listening to them talk, and seeing all the things that Jesus was doing in their lives. But I could not be truly joyful, knowing all the while that my own life was lost, ruined, destroyed by my own ignorance and sin, my own foolish choices. If only I had really understood some of these things before it was too late. But now it was too late. It was beyond being late. It was over for me.

Yet...

I sensed, after a while, that the Spirit of God was speaking to my own heart, calling me to genuine faith in Jesus. Genuine faith meant a surrender to His ways, His rule. I could see how happy these other people were to know and serve Jesus Christ, but I found it difficult to think of myself as ever being that happy, that much at peace. Would God really do the same things for me?

I struggled for hours with my questions, my doubts and fears, my unbelief. I now had a kind of hope inside, but I didn't know how to act on that hope. The Christians around me shared their stories and talked with me, and among each other. They came and went from the room I was in. I told none of them about what I was thinking, or how my heart longed for what they now had with Jesus Christ.

But God knew. And The Holy Spirit kept speaking to my heart, stirring up my longing for a new life, a good life, and a reason to live, breathe, and function again. I struggled and squirmed inside, afraid to give in to such a strong hope. I was so afraid that this, too, would turn out bad for me. I was afraid that I would fail, that I would mess things up and let God down.

But God kept speaking, calling to my heart.

And finally, late that night, I told a couple of the guys that I wanted to pray. I wanted to give my life to Jesus Christ. Many of the others had gone home by this time. I went into an empty room and knelt down at the foot of a bed, and I opened my heart to God. I confessed my sinfulness to Him, admitted my lost condition, and I asked Jesus Christ to save me from my sins. I asked Him to take over as the Lord and Ruler of my life.

I cannot express to you all that happened inside my heart and mind, my very soul, as I prayed. All the old guilt and shame, all the heavy, heavy weight of misery and anger and fear was washed right out of me as the grace of God, the peace of God flowed in. Suddenly, for the first time in my life, I could feel the Presence of God, like heaven itself was right there in the room with me.

And for the very first time in my life, I had real joy -- the kind that makes you want to sing and shout. I was amazed. I hadn't expected to feel anything, to sense any kind of immediate change. But now everything was different. Really different, from the inside out. I could tell that I already had a brand new life in Jesus Christ. Right then and there.

That was a long time ago. I could write a book about all the things Jesus did for me that night, and in all the days and nights since then. I've been anything but the perfect Christian. I've messed up all kinds of things, in all kinds of ways, many times. I even lost my faith for a while. But God has been with me all the way, in every step and in every moment, helping me, teaching me, training me, and picking me up whenever I stumble. And my life is not the same as it was before.

Immediately, that very first night, I was released from the old things that had held me down before. I was able to go back and tell my buddies, and my old girl friends, and my parents what Jesus did for me. And some of them, including my parents, also gave their hearts to Jesus Christ. And He changed them, too.

I met my wife a few months later in a little country church just outside the city. We both loved the Lord Jesus then, and we both love Him now, some 34 years later. We have 3 children and 10 grandchildren. And the Lord is at work in every one of their lives, too.

I don't know how your life has been so far. I don't know all the things you've been through. I don't know all the wrong things you've done. But I can tell you one thing for sure: Jesus Christ will set you free. He will take away all your sins, and give you a brand new life. He will transform your heart and mind, giving you hope and joy and purpose and meaning. You will discover why you were born and what you should do with the rest of your days on earth. And when your life's work is done, Jesus will take you home to be with Him forever.

So now it's just a matter of deciding what you really want. If you want a new life in Jesus Christ, if you want peace with God and a reason to live each day, then God will give you those things when you place your faith in Jesus. Jesus will do for you what He did for me, and for millions of others all over the world.

The Bible makes this promise: "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." (Romans 10:13)

And again it says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." (Acts 16:31)

"The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and save them." (Psalm 145:18,19)

To find out more about how to surrender your life to Jesus, click here.

God bless you as you take the step that will change everything from darkness to light.

Jim

 

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2005 by Jim Sutton

This page last edited 12/02/11

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