Summary: Admoniton for believers to examine their faith
Today I want to talk to you about something that has been a burden on my heart for many years. I would like to speak about examining our walk with God. It is a good thing to examine our walk with God, and something that I have done on numerous occasions. As a matter of fact, the reason that it burdens me so is because I realized that I wasn’t saved after such an examination.
WHEN GOD SAVED ME
I loved my grandfather. He was 6 foot tall, nearly 200 pounds, and always seemed bigger than life to me. He was born in 1919 and grew up in a time when everything came by hard work and dedication. He had worked many jobs during his lifetime, including a tour in the navy during WWII, but when I was born he was a vegetable farmer in Florida. My grandfather taught me a lot about farming, hunting, fishing and life in general. We spent a lot of time together when I was growing up. I always looked forward to our times alone. He would start telling one of his stories (he had one for every occasion) and I would find myself listening intently, transfixed by his mannerisms and distinctive, grandfather voice. More than once I imagined myself in the story playing out the part of the lead character. I always felt comfortable in his presence. Even as a small child he made me feel special and loved. In my eyes there was never a better grandfather in the entire world.
Labor Day, September 7, 1992 found me living in Utah. I had been in the United States Air Force for 5 years and was stationed at Hill AFB. On this day my wife and I were planning to start packing for our yearly visit to Florida. We were supposed to fly out on September 9; my second child had been born in April and I was eagerly awaiting the opportunity to show off my first son. At approximately 7:00 a.m. the phone rang. It was my mother telling me that my grandfather had been rushed to the hospital. I’ll never forget her words, "If you want to see him alive you better come home now." I hung up the phone in complete shock. I was dumbfounded and useless. Donna, my wife, took control of the situation and managed to get one airline ticket changed to a 9:20 flight that morning. That was the longest flight of my entire life. All the time I was in the air I thought of nothing but my grandfather. I knew that he had been battling cancer, but the thought of his death had never become a reality to me. I didn’t think anything could defeat him. After all, he was my grandfather. When I touched down in Orlando I called Donna to let her know I had arrived safely. With a quiver in her voice and choking back tears she told me the bad news. My grandfather, my friend, my childhood hero had died in the hospital; the victim of a blood clot passing through his lungs. I was devastated. For a long time I sat in that little phone booth and cried. Immediately I started blaming God. I didn’t think about my grandmother who had just lost a faithful husband of 53 years. I didn’t think about my mother and uncle who had just lost a loving father. All I could ask was, "Why? Why didn’t God let me get there before he died?" It was beyond my comprehension. That dark day in my life started a depression that would last for seven months.
I was mad at God. I could not be consoled by anyone’s words. I tried to play it off like nothing was wrong. To my coworkers and other family members it seemed everything was back to normal. But Donna wasn’t fooled. At one point she took the initiative to make an appointment for me with our pastor. "I’m worried about you," she said, "you need some help." Reluctantly, to make her feel better, I talked to the pastor. His words did nothing to help my aching heart. I continued my life, feeling lower than ever.
I had been raised in church and still faithfully attended. One day Donna told me in an excited voice that she was rededicating her life to the Lord and wanted to get baptized as a testimony of her new commitment. "I’d really like it if we got baptized together," she said, still radiating with excitement. "What?" I scowled, raising my voice a little, "Why do I need to get baptized? I’m already saved." She tried to explain her feelings, but I wasn’t listening. I was too mad. Who was she to insinuate that my walk with God was anything less than perfect? I was a good Christian. I had walked the aisle when I was seven years old. I had been baptized and practically raised in the church. My parents made sure that we were there every Sunday morning and every Sunday evening. As a teenager I had taught Sunday school and helped with the young boys on Wednesday nights. Even now I tithed regularly and made sure my family was there whenever the doors were open. And why was she rededicating her life anyway? As far as I could tell there wasn’t anything wrong with her spiritual life. The thoughts raged inside my head and I ended the conversation abruptly.