Summary: There is the Jesus bus that goes to the Father and eternal life with Him. There is the Satan bus that goes to death. There are only two buses -- choose life.
Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come. Psalm 71:18
With increasing age comes the desire to have those you leave behind know who you are and whose you are. Many things have happened to cause me to realize that I have led a self centered life also referred to as a sinful life. This is my fault in all cases for succumbing to the evil one (Satan). I am sure that my parents and grandparents tried their best - maybe too hard to raise me. We are all human and do not intentionally make mistakes in child rearing. My earliest recollection of pure self centeredness was at about the age of four. My parents and I, my maternal grandparents and my mother’s brother and his family all lived in the same house. My grandparents were going on a train trip to Tennessee. I threw a tantrum because I wanted to go with them. I still remember
their looks and body language showing that they really wanted to go alone. The brat won the battle and I think set the tone for the rest of my childhood. I grew up thinking that I was the center of the universe -- self sufficient and self centered.
We went to church and Sunday School. I went to confirmation instructions and was confirmed. I knew liturgy, church history and ritual. I was an acolyte and proud of my performance. But I didn’t know Jesus. I knew the historical facts but I didn’t know that I
was the sinner that He died for, I didn’t know that I nailed Him to the cross. I thought that I was good enough and I didn’t need Him. When as a young adult and father, I realized I wasn’t good enough, I turned away from Him instead of to Him. Pride pushed me away. I was embarrassed to admit that I could believe such "foolishness" when questioned by a liberal-agnostic mentor in my profession. I remember the conversation vividly and I remember how I shut the door on Jesus in my mid twenties.
For years I devoted far to much time to my profession and things that interested me. I paid far too little attention to my wife and young children, I seldom sensed that this was unfair for I was concerned only with self. I didn’t put money first but I did put pride and security first. I wanted others in my profession to know who I was and I wanted economic security so that at any time I was positioned to not work if I didn’t want to continue at a particular job. At no time did I even remotely think that I had a personal savior much less a need for one. I am certain that the Holy Spirit was working on me these years (1 Cor. 12:3)-- I wasn’t paying attention.
The path back to Jesus, as far as I can determine, started when I was 38 years old and it took well over a decade to produce any visible results. This process called sanctification is still occurring on a daily basis and I pray that it will continue forever. The day before Easter in 1983, during an attempted robbery, I vented horrendous anger. I focused it on the
perpetrator of an invasion of my space. This left me with a thankfulness for the lives of myself -always first - my teenage daughter, my employees and my customers. When I woke the next morning - we were staying at a rented vacation home for the weekend - I started walking through the woods. I didn’t know where I would come out for sure since it was new territory. It was a bright and warm morning - it was Resurrection day (Easter). I seemed to be so relaxed - it almost was a mental fog - when I emerged from the woods and walked down a road. In the distance there was a stone church where the people were leaving. As they were leaving they were shaking hands with a pharmacist that I knew who had become an ordained Deacon. The warmth of the day, the dream like state in my head, the white vestment blowing in the wind all seemed to be calling me back. The scene stayed in my mind and I started to feel called.
We had our youngest daughter, born a few months later, baptized at Christ Lutheran. For me, at that time, it was something I did to get along. I was pleased that Pastor Held would baptize her without pressuring us to
attend. He was a man who knew his job and trusted in the Holy Spirit to do His work in the world. Pastor Held made us feel welcome when we were ready. The work of the Holy Spirit in me for the next decade was more subtle. I felt our daughter needed exposure to a moral