A Work of Grace ... a Prodigal's Testimony

You know ... all Christians have basically the same testimony ... a story of forgiveness... deliverance from the bondage of sin .. and new life found only in Jesus. My story isn't much different ... but maybe the circumstances might shed the Light if the Good Lord's Grace .. upon a hurting soul.

I gave my heart to Jesus at the age of 20 .. in 1978. Amidst the craziness of the drug culture of the seventies.. my heart was in search of Truth. As a child .. my father was a Penecostal evangelist ... preaching revivals at churches and tent meetings. I went to church a lot and learned many of the typical Bible stories that kids learn in Sunday School. I learned of the Hebrew children .. the valiant boy David .. and the life of the Good Shepherd -- Jesus.

My folks split up when I was 10 years old. My father had a mixed up sense of Christianity .. and wouldn't keep a real job. His motto was "the Lord will provide" ... and my Mom got tired of always moving (evictions for non-payment of rent) ... and seeing her 6 small children going hungry. They divorced ... and Mom packed up her kids and moved to the big city .. and got a job at a factory.

A whole new world opened up to me. Since Mom no longer attended church .. she never forced us to go. I ran the streets and got into trouble here and there . The drug scene had overwhelmed the school system ... and I partied all through the school years. After High School ... I joined the Navy. The military thing didn't work out and I got discharged after 2 years. I remember though ... when in the middle of a tropical storm at sea .. that God revealed to me that His Mighty hand .. was in control.

After the Navy , I got a job at a hospital. I had a tiny apartment .. and let a friend of mine live with me. We both had Bibles ... and would discuss Scripture and get high. I remembered the stories I had learned as a child .. and knew that Jesus was the Truth. I read in Revelation one day the passage where Jesus says " Behold .. I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice ... and opens the door .. I will come in to him .. and sup (eat) with him." That is the Scripture that got through to me. I took Jesus at His Word.. and invited Him in. Me and my buddy both repented and got baptized at the same time.

I did well for several months .. and the Lord showed me many things ... however I was not firmly planted in the Scriptures ... and slipped back into drugs. This went on for a couple of years but the Lord kept drawing me back. Eventually I made a serious commitment to God .. and got married. My wife was a Christian ... and we went to church and started raising a family.

We had 3 small children ... when a devastating thing happened ... a tragedy. A drug - crazed maniac went to the home next door and went on a rampage. After the ordeal ... I ran next door to help with first aid ( I had been a hospital corpsman in the Navy ). It was a horrible scene .. and the little neighbor kids were shot up .. and they had witnessed the murder of their Mom. This nut had even killed an 18 month old baby.

Something about the incident really shook me. I had been enrolled in college to become a paramedic ... but the scene of children so brutally violated ... pierced my very soul. I gave up the idea of becoming a paramedic. For several months ... I had difficulty in sleeping. I remember going into a convenience store ... and buying a bottle of wine. A glass or two ... and I could sleep. What started out as a remedy eventually turned into a bad habit. I had allowed alcohol into my life again. The Bible says ... " anyone who thinks he stands ... should take heed .. lest he fall." I fell away from the Lord ... slowly . I quit reading my Bible .. praying with my wife .. and attending church.

My marriage started to crumble ... and I ended up getting a divorce after nine years. The guilt of my divorce had overwhelmed me .. and I became a drunk for several years after that. The Lord had not left me though .. and kept dealing with me. In spite of my rebellion .. a wonderful thing from God was offered to me . He offered me a gift of repentance.

About 5 years ago , I was at a friend's apartment. I used to go over there on the weekends .. to play cards and watch football... and to party ( lots of beer and weed ). I arrived there one sunny afternoon ... and I looked out the apartment window. There were children playing in the courtyard . Playing ... and laughing. I remember thinking ... " Oh Lord ... will I ever have joy in my life again?'' ( I was miserable ). Right then I got a feeling of electricity in my legs ... from my knees ... to the bottom of my feet. I was convinced that is was a touch from the Lord .. and later on that night ... I asked my buddy ... " Do you have a Bible ?'' He looked at me with surprise , and said " Sure .. I've got one around here somewhere." I took the Bible and went into a bedroom and read the Psalms. I especially liked Psalm 1 ... where it talks about the righteous being "firmly planted.'' I read about King David .. at how he failed so miserably ... but the Lord had restored his soul. In the night .. the Lord spoke to my heart .. saying .. " If you walk in obedience to Me ... and My Word ... I will do for you what I did for David."

The next morning ... I returned the Bible to my buddy and told him ... "this is it , I'm giving my heart back to Jesus .. and going back to church." The following Sunday I went to church with my former brother - in - law. There was an "altar call" at the end of the service. I literally got up and ran to that altar ... and laid the heavy burden before the Lord .. in repentance.

That was 5 years ago ... and I haven't so much as tasted a beer since. I am now a member of a Baptist church , and am involved in music ministry. I sing and play guitar at churches ... Christian coffee-houses ... benefits ... and anywhere else the Good Lord might have me play. Two of my three ( now grown ) children are saved ... and I am convinced of one thing. If the Lord could get through to me ... He can get through to anybody. He has taken a miserable wretch .. and drunken fool ... and has restored my soul. He has given me .... GENUINE purpose in life. I am ever humbled ... at the Grace that has been bestowed upon my life.

Only Jesus ... can satisfy the soul.