It’s hard to believe that forty years ago I gave my life to Jesus. But I can remember many of the events about that day just like it was yesterday.
It was on a Sunday. August 27, 1978 to be exact. My Dad was pastoring the Calvary Baptist Church in Arlington, Kentucky at that time.
Calvary Baptist Church is a very small congregation in far western Kentucky. But, it was where I called ‘home’ for a couple of years in the late 1970’s. We lived in the parsonage next door to the church and my brother, Alex, and I knew every inch of the woods within a mile or so of the house. We loved exploring!
On that particular Sunday morning, I remember that my Dad preached on Elijah and the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). I don’t remember the sermon per se. I just remember that something about it brought conviction of sin in my heart and a fear of spending eternity in Hell.
So, after the morning worship, we headed back across the gravel parking lot to our house for lunch. The Sunday afternoon routine was for my Dad to head back to his church office to prepare for that evening’s service and my Mom would put us four kids to bed for a Sunday afternoon nap.
But, I couldn’t sleep that afternoon. I was wrestling with some matters in my mind and heart.
I got up out of bed and went into the kitchen where I told my Mom that I wanted to be saved. She encouraged me to walk to the church building and talk to my Dad.
I knocked on his office door and told him what I was struggling with. We sat down on the black, leather love seat and he shared the Gospel with me that I already knew and understood.
Then, he told me that he was going to pray for me and that while he was praying, that I should put my trust in Jesus to forgive and save me. He prayed and then looked at me and said, “Did you trust in Him?” I wasn’t sure. Nothing seemed to be different.
In retrospect, I believe that I was looking for a tangible sign, some evidence that things had changed. I just wasn’t sure if I had genuinely trusted in Him. So, my Dad explained a few more things to me and then said that he would pray again for me.
During that second prayer, I know without a doubt that I trusted in Jesus as my Lord and Savior. The weight that I had felt earlier that day was gone. In some ways, I wish that God would have sent a spiritual birth certificate down from Heaven but, instead, He gave me an inner peace that made it clear that I now belonged to Him.
Ever since that day, my God was continued to conform me to the image of Jesus.
I would be lying if I said that it’s been a steady progression to holiness. In fact, there are times since that day when I look back in shame. I have strayed away far too often from the Lord in my thoughts, words, and actions.
But, just as He saved me by grace, He has continued to lavish grace upon me. It is my aim not to abuse that grace. But, it has been there when I have strayed and has always been there to cleanse me and invite me back into relationship with Him, the God who loves me and saved me.
A few months ago, Kim and I were able to go on the trip of a lifetime. We went to Israel. We were able to visit many of the sites that are spoken about in Scripture and some of the Bible stories came alive as I viewed the places where they occurred.
One of the places we visited was Mt. Carmel. We visited the location where it is thought that Elijah met with the prophets of Baal. It was amazing to be in the place where God used the story to bring me to salvation!
I’ll end with a picture and a video.
This statue stands near the entrance to the site that is dedicated to the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal.
I took the following video from the top of Mt. Carmel. It is the breathtaking view of the Valley of Jezreel, where the battle of Armageddon will be fought.