It was around 10.00 pm as I sat on the edge of my bed in my grotty bed-sit, the rain pouring down outside... with my outlook as gloomy as the weather. It was Friday 26th April '74 and probably for the very first time I took a long, hard, honest look at myself and my life... and I didn't like what I saw! No, it hadn't all been doom and gloom. I'd had my ups as well as my downs and, yet, despite having tried most things in life there was still a nagging emptiness at the very centre of my being... a yearning for something I'd yet to find.
COUNTING THE COST
Now in the providence of God I'd encountered some followers of Jesus since coming to live in Edinburgh and they'd explained the essence of the Christian gospel to me. What I was being told would certainly prove life-changing, but could this be the way forward for me? I was far from convinced. Was this not a philosophy which belonged in yesteryear? I'd been told that a key element in 'becoming a Christian' was God's command to repent, and this meant, with His help, turning from all in my life that I knew was wrong. I must also ask the risen Christ Jesus to forgive my sins and run my future as Lord of every aspect of my being. I hesitated. I felt pulled in opposite directions. Would such a 'cost' as all this be too great for me? Amongst many other things, would I have to see an end to my preoccupation with dancing and romancing most nights of the week? But when I reflected on the amount of what the Bible called 'sin' in my life, and especially the self-centred way I was in the habit of 'using' other people, my profound sense of guilt simply multiplied.
MAKING THE DECISION
Yet in the light of all this I knew I had to make a decision... and for me it had to be all or nothing. So, in seeking His forgiveness I simply gave my life to the Lord... wholeheartedly and unreservedly. In fact, the words of one of Bill Gaither's songs summed me up perfectly...
'...my dreams turned to ashes, my castles all crumbled, my fortune turned to loss.
So I wrapped it all in the rags of my life and laid it at the Cross!'
RECEIVING THE LORD
I can't remember the actual words I used but the Lord knew I was sincere. For a few moments... nothing... and I wondered if all that I'd been told was some horrible con trick. But then something truly wonderful happened. Suddenly a great surge of energy began to well up inside me. It felt as though a physical weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I was flooded with unexpected yet unmistakable joy. It would be no exaggeration to say that I felt totally free... really clean... a new person altogether. The emptiness had gone. I felt complete and that any good thing that would come my way thereafter would only be a bonus. It was the difference between suddenly seeing TV in full colour when up until then it had only been in black and white. I knew without a doubt that I was now forgiven and that a place in heaven was mine.
But of course this was only the beginning of my 'new life in Christ' and what was to follow was beyond my wildest dreams... and must, of course, form the basis of the next blog!