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Stumbling my way to Christ

For the greater part of my life I was raised and lived as a Catholic. I believed and lived as a practicing catholic. I was married catholic to a Christian wife who out of love and respect became catholic. We had two daughters who were baptized into the catholic faith as babies. I lived the first 35 years of my life in what I believed was the secure belief of Catholicism.

I don’t remember exactly when it began, but it was some time after my 38th birthday that I began to have doubts about my faith. But I remember that I had been reading the catechism that my children were studying and I noticed the church’s claim that the priest was a mediator between man and God. Now I am certain that this is something that I knew and accepted as a child, but at this moment in my life, for some reason, which I now know was the Holy Spirit’s drawing me, I reacted to that statement as if I had been struck by lightning. Question(s) flew through my mind.

I had grown up on the family farm in northern Wisconsin. My sister Susan, my mother and I had lived our childhood on the family farm with my Grandfather and Grandmother. Grandpa was originally a French Canadian catholic who immigrated to the USA to work on the railroad and Grandma was an English/American protestant who married my Granddad and became catholic. While she had become catholic she never stopped reading her bible and it was from her that all her children and grandchildren were taught the most important religious truth we were to ever learn.

“No matter what a church may tell you, preach to you or teach you, remember to read your bible everyday and to keep your relationship with Jesus.”

I had not always read my bible, but I talked to Jesus every day and I told Him everything I was thinking and feeling, wanting and needing. But I had never thought to confess anything to Him. I did not have that kind of understanding of who I was in Christ nor did I fully understand who Christ was to me. But on this day of questions, it was my Grandmother’s voice I heard and that truth resonating within me as I picked up my bible and headed to my home office to spend some “time in the Word” as my Granny had always said it to me. It was her example and her witness that on that day began my stumbling journey to Christ crucified.

As I sat down with the bible and the catechism it hit me. I had read the bible, but I had not studied the bible. How was I going to find the answers I so desperately needed?

“Jesus, help me!” I called out.

As I sat staring at that book wondering how to begin a thought crossed my mind and I turned to the back of the bible and found entries for mediator.

Gal 3:20, go between; 1 Tim 2:4-5 Jesus between! WOW ! There it was!

1 Tim 2:4-5
4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

Now I had a problem! What do I do now?

Again the words of my Granny came to me. “No matter what man may say Bob, the word of God in the bible is the final and only authority! Always remember that.” I remember that even now and I remember the hug she gave me after she said that. Oh how I sometimes wish I could feel her arms around me yet today!

As I turned to the beginning of 1 Timothy and was about to begin I stopped and thanked Jesus for Granny. Then reading I covered the first 3 chapters of 1 Timothy.

I was numb and excited at the same time. “Christ is the mediator between God and men” so why, when how did my church come to teach the priest is the mediator between God and men? I did not realize it at the time, but the first bad seed had been plucked out and the first good seed planted.

I wish I could say that it was all corrected and straightened out right there, but I can not and I do not say that. But, I can say that this was the first step in my bumbling stumbling journey to Christ.

For the next 10 years I was not much of anything where my faith is concerned. There were more revelations about the doctrine of the catholic faith, so I knew I no longer believed in Catholicism, but there was no effort on my part to really study the bible and find out what I believed. I was too successful, doing so well on my own. Ill get to that religion issue someday….

It was now 1992. My wife of 24 years had left me in 1990, divorced me in 1991. It was 1992 now. I had great worldly success. My job provided a salary of over $80,000 a year. I had the respect of my working peers and a girl friend. I was all right I thought. Life was good.

My girl friend was a “born again Christian” and I began to attend church and bible study with her. I returned to reading the bible, only a couple of times a week but I was reading and studying with these happy, confident “born again Christians.”

The more I studied, the more uncomfortable I became the more lost I began to feel, the more uneasy it all seemed to me. Why couldn’t I feel the way these Christians felt? After all I had been baptized hadn’t I? I must already be born again aren’t I?

Aren’t I?

I was afraid to ask that question of the pastor. I was ashamed. I was too proud.

My girl friend knew better than I that I needed Christ’s salvation and I did not want to believe it. I fought it and we argued often. Eventually it became too much for her and we broke up. I was headed in the wrong direction and I didn’t want to change and she didn’t want to become involved with an unbeliever. Me? I couldn’t admit that I was an unbeliever after all I was a good person. I lived a good life…

In actuality I did not live a good life. I had a filthy mouth a worldly fleshly life style and no awareness of who Christ really was. I was still too catholic in attitude, but without the benefit of confession I was out of relation with God. I was lost and unable to admit it. It was late 1994. It would be another two years before I would come face to face with my Saviour.

For the next two years I attended church intermittently, but I did begin again to read the bible, this time with some regularity. I spent at least 30 minutes in the word three times a week.

It was early 1996, late January as I remember it, when I finally realized what it really meant to be a born again Christian. I was praying/meditating on the word, but I was not yet saved. I was in the word 30 to 60 minutes a day and struggling to understand, but too proud to surrender and too proud to admit it. However, God had a plan, one that would put me on my knees for good and break the spirit of pride within me. Oh my did He have a plan!

It was March and my work situation was not going so well. The company was in turmoil and needed stronger leadership. I was in turmoil and needed Christ’s leadership but was still to arrogant and or proud to admit it, but softening.

My co-workers noticed it first,

“Bob, where is this new spirit of cooperation and teamwork coming from? We like it”

I was still pretty much unaware of what was happening.

By the end of March I was just beginning the book of Job. It took me until mid-April to finish reading it. My talk with the Lord that night went something like this.

“Lord there is no way I could go through what Job did. That is a trial that I just couldn’t bear. Thank you for keeping me from such a trial.”

The Lord had other plans for me!

Two weeks later on May 8, 1996 the Lord took all my worldly success away, I was downsized right out of my job. Initially I did not know or accept why He did this, but I know today that He knew that in my brokenness I would let go of my pride, arrogance and self-centeredness and come to know Him as my Lord, my God, my Saviour, my everything!

It took me nearly two months to stop feeling sorry for myself and get on my knees and call out to Him;
Lord Jesus save me!

I admit that my first cries were not thinking about salvation, but were more about saving me from financial and emotional ruin. My heart was not yet in a right attitude toward the Lord and I do not claim that as the time of my salvation. My salvation would come some two weeks later.

My former girl friend had heard what happened at my job and called to ask if I needed anything, food, prayer someone to talk too?

I blurted out; “Gloria, I need Jesus!”

“Do you mean that?” She asked with a righteous skepticism.

“Yes Gloria I do, I really do. Help me!” I cried

Promising to be at my apartment in a half hour she hung up the phone and I made a meager attempt to straighten up and to wash my tear stained face. I asked Jesus to help me to know what to do and waited for her arrival.

I answered the knock on my door with nervous anticipation. I was not seeking to rekindle a relationship with her, but I wanted to know answers, answers to all those questions I had had, but had been too proud to ask before. When I opened the door to my surprise, Gloria had brought her pastor with her. Surprised and a bit taken back by his presence I offered to make coffee.

We sat at the kitchen table and Pastor Allen prayed for me. Then Pastor Allen asked me what I meant by the statement “I need Jesus?” Slowly and with difficulty I explained that I knew that I had been adrift and that I needed a real relationship with God and Jesus. I wanted to know the peace and joy that the members of his congregation had shown me. I told him that I realized that it had been my pride and self focus that had always kept me from asking questions and I asked him to help me find my way to Jesus.

For the next two hours, Pastor Allen took me through God’s plan for salvation, the reason for Christ’s coming, His death, His resurrection and ascension. Slowly and patiently he helped me to realize that sinful man is separated from God and needed the sacrifice of the perfect lamb, Jesus to free us from our sins. He explained that God offers this gift to all who will by faith accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour and ask Him to come into their hearts to stay. Then he asked me; Bob, do you want Jesus to
be your Saviour?

All resistance was gone; I knew Jesus was what I needed. He was who I had always needed.

“Yes.” I answered with softness and a relief that I had not known since I was a child.

Pastor Allen led me in the sinner’s prayer and I invited Christ into my heart and accepted Him as my personal Saviour. It was July 24, 1996 that I had my second birthday. (Wrong year folks not 2006 but 1996)

Much has happened since that special day; many blessing, some trials, much joy and a little sadness, but God is in charge and he has a plan for my life and it has been exciting, humbling and wondrous to both live and watch as it unfolds before me.
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Amen brother. What a testimony. God didn't give up on you, even when you weren't thinking about Him he was working away in the background. Praise His Holy Name.
Yes, Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. How amazing are the various trails by which that word comes: how beautiful are the feet of thoes shod with the gospel of peace. His arm is not short that he cannot save. Glad to God for you brother. Peace...DGB

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