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“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My story with God, Part Three

Finally the senior year finished and I agreed to sell Adventist literature that summer in preparation for college. I had wanted to be a pastor and was going to be a Theology student. That summer was the hottest summer in my life!! I didn’t sell a single book! I preferred to give away the books. I’m just not a salesperson. If it weren’t for some help from the district leader I wouldn’t have had a penny for college. Somehow I had $1,000 and it was enough for one semester at Columbia Union College.

During my one semester there and learned three important lessons; One, that I couldn’t be a pastor. I had completely lost interest in it. But I did learn two good things before leaving.

While visiting a nursing home back at the academy, I had realized the need for a musical instrument to accompany our songs as we walked from room to room. The thought of a guitar came to mind. Oh, how I would love to be able to play the guitar! Now at college, my roommate had a guitar and taught me how to play it.

The third thing I learned at CUC was Righteousness by Faith. Richard had mentioned the name Morris Venden several times while he taught us. But I never understood how RBF worked by experience. Now, as the Lord would have it, Elder Venden came to our college for a Week of Prayer that fall! Oh, oh, oh, how beautiful I saw Righteousness By Faith to be!!!! Jesus was presented at the center of it all, by a man who obviously was experiencing Jesus. It wasn’t a theory, it was reality. In living color, the love of Jesus came poring out of that preacher, who was so comfortable speaking to young people about love and faith.

At the end of each sermon that week, I stayed in the sanctuary for as long as I dared so as to not be late for my next class. I sat being drenched by the love of God, hoping that everything we had heard about Jesus would stay in my memory so that I could live off of it until the next sermon. The stress of living without Jesus had been grinding on me as it had for the past couple of years since Richard had left. But in the light of the glory of Jesus’ love and mercy, all stress was gone. Each morning we heard more of the amazing love of Jesus and of His friendly arms nailed to a cross, inviting the whole world, “Come unto Me.”

All too soon that week of prayer was finished and the normal life of this world resumed with a vengeance. Except for Righteousness by Faith, nothing else was useful to me from that semester, especially the psychotic math. After that semester I went home to stay. My friend, Greg, who convinced me to go to the academy, asked me if I wanted to take his job as a laborer in construction since he was going to work with framing carpenters. I took him up on it. After a year, he asked me if I wanted to work with the carpenters and I joined the carpenters.

For the next 4 years I built houses. It was a real trial of my faith to work with men who were completely detached from God. I was their constant joke, except for being a dependable worker. They loved me with all that was possible from a worldly heart, and I appreciated it but longed for more than that. (Later, the boss was converted and still maintains his faith.)

But this was such a trial because I still had a God-sized hole in my heart. The week of prayer was in the distant past, but one Sabbath I visited a man who lived in a house behind the church. After seeing how sad I looked, he offered me some tapes. It was a series by Morris Venden! The Lord was watching out for me. The series was the comparison between the Exodus and the Advent movements—and full of the love of Jesus!!!

But after listening to them many times, I had to give the tapes back. Then the memories began to fade again and the darkness fell in on me again.

Going to church, not because Jesus was there, but only the people, was too much for me to take. I couldn’t do it anymore. There was no love there. Just religion. Horrific, suffocating, dead religion. It was enough to make Jesus vomit, I’m sure—You know, “I will spew thee out of My mouth...” I wanted to leave, but how? I had made such a great profession of faith. The church was all I had ever known. And I knew that outside of it was damnation, with an ecumenical movement uniting Protestantism back to Rome, a Charismatic movement sending Protestants into spiritualism, a scary shaking time in the church, and a great time of trouble. I knew too much to leave, but I hated it all very much. I couldn’t just walk away and not live in misery and fear for the rest of my life.

So the Lord sent me my wife-to-be. She loved me and I loved her. She wasn’t an Adventist, but had visited our church. I felt that if she became part of the church, then church-going would be bearable. If she didn’t want to be part of the church, I would leave it. At least now I could love and be loved. All I wanted was love, and this the church did not provide. And God, for His part, was silent to my plight.

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