Four weeks after Neil Armstrong made “one giant leap for mankind”, Woodstock was winding down its last night, and I was attending my third evening service with real people.
Real people, as in genuine, caring individuals who appeared to accept me as someone searching for something I didn’t have, but couldn’t define or explain. Just 17, full of anger, fear,-and resentment towards women, based in part on my relationship with my mother, now out of the house. For which I was glad.
Pastor K. Led us in a few songs, took the offering, and gave the evening message. I don’t remember one word of what he preached. What I do remember was him doing something at the end of his sermon: he hadn’t done the previous two Sunday evenings: he gave an invitation for anyone wanting to invite Christ into their lives to raise their hand.
One fear that I had was that if I raised my hand and came forward I didn’t know what people would do do me. My heart was open to God, just not to people I didn’t know.
God’s pretty smart about a lot of things. Actually God is omniscient-all knowing-and knew this about me. I was reluctant to raise my hand because I thought this girl from high school would see it (embarrassing). To this day I have no doubt that an angel helped me to raise my hand, because all of sudden it was in the air.
Instead of having me come forward (whew) Pastor K. acknowledged the raised hand and said “if that person would come see me after service, I’d like to talk with you.” With service ended I told the family I sat with “I think Pastor K. wants to talk to me.”
After folks had cleared out the pastor and I went into the side room I mentioned in my previous post. Pastor K. briefly explained that everyone needs to be what he called born again, having Christ in their heart. This meant we turn from our old life to receive the life that God offers through Jesus Christ, His Son.
Pastor K. led me in a prayer in which I asked Jesus to come into my life. At a little after 9:00 pm, on Sunday, August 17, 1969 I passed from spiritual death to a new life as a child of God. I was the same physically and mentally, but something had happened in my heart. Not the physical one but in my spirit, that now had the very life and nature of God in it. According to 2 Corinthians 5:17 I was a new person in Christ. There was a new me in me.
Natural babies have no past. In the eyes of God, neither does a spiritual baby. God sees new Christians with no past-only a bright future. That’s the life that I entered into, now exactly 50 years ago.
By God’s grace and mercy-and the patient assistance of many people over these 50 years-I am growing. Am I fully developed, spiritually? No. Am I satisfied with where I am in my walk with God? Certainly not. But, in the words of the apostle Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am..” (1 Corinthians 15:10.).
Thank you for taking the time to “hear” my story. This is only the beginning of many such stories of God’s workings in people’s lives. This one happened to be mine. I hope you were blessed.
© Hubert Gardner Ministries 2019