Wednesday, October 16, 2019

My Road To The Cross

In the early 1980's I had worked for an electrical wholesale distributor in St. Paul, MN. I considered it a forever job as I was being groomed for upper management and I very much liked being there. Unfortunately, the company I was working for went bankrupt and I took the ride down as well having to file for bankruptcy also.

 After a short time being unemployed I got a new job for an office supplies warehouse. I would walk the 6 miles each way to and from the job, saving my pocket change for the bus on rainy days. The new job was an obvious interim job that barely paid more than the unemployment check.

One very hot summer day while walking home, I felt the weight of my situation and exhaustion. On that day in 1983, at age 24, I looked up to the heavens and said, "God, there's got to be a better way." Although I was raised in the Catholic faith, believed in God and the work of Christ on the cross, this was the first time I remember calling out to God in desperation. Circumstances in my life began to change soon after that day.

Some time later I took a sales job that eventually had me traveling through the Dakotas, Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as well as Minnesota. In 1984 I moved to Bismark, ND, to work a sales territory including the Dakotas and Nebraska. That company ended up struggling and wanted me in Chicago, IL. I said no and returned to the Twin Cities area with my family in 1985.

While traveling the Dakotas, God got hold of me and started the clean up in my life. While in the car with 4 hours between cities I listened to a lot of rock & roll. Becoming bored, I went to other radio stations searching for something interesting. I couldn't stand most of the talk radio being small town chatter with livestock and grain reports. At night, dinner and prowling about became the habit. Hitting bars and flirting with waitresses grew old. Searching out the few gentleman's clubs was only frustrating. Fortunately, God protected me from myself in those days of heavy drinking as I was always alone when I got to my motel room.

As a result of my boredom, I began listening to the radio preachers. They actually caused me to think and the driving time passed more quickly. I mainly thought about how wrong they were because what they said wasn't matching up well with my Catholic upbringing. I soon began making notes of their references so I could prove them wrong. I thank God for the Gideons, there was always a Bible in the motel rooms. To my surprise, 9 out of 10 times the radio preachers appeared to be correct; there was always that one guy that was way off base.

At night I began staying in my room and I soon grew tired of the same ball games, CNN repeating themselves over and over and over, bad sitcoms and movies that seemed to make time drag. I began to watch The 700 Club. I opened the Bible once again thinking that I could show these guys to be phonies and prove it using their Bible against them. I failed again.

One night in February of 1985, I was watching the 700 club. I don't remember what the topic of the show was or what was said, but I remember it was Ben Kinchlow who was speaking. At the end of that show I got on my knees next to that motel bed and prayed. I said, "God, if what that man said is true, then here I am. I am yours, I surrender."

About one month later on a beautiful spring day, I was on the deck of our Bismark apartment reading a book. I believe it was "The Cost of Discipleship" by Dietrich Bonhoffer. Like a bolt, it dawned on me. It was as if someone had just said to me, "Do you realize that in the past month you have not drank booze or smoked pot?" I did not hear an audible voice, but it was so real that I remember looking up from the book to see who was there. After pondering that thought for a minute, I returned to the book and began reading. Once again I heard in my head, "Not only have you not drank or smoked for the past month, but you haven't even had the desire to." This stopped me in my tracks as I realized that was true. It was at that point that I knew my salvation was real.

I flushed the pot down the toilet and poured the scotch down the drain of the kitchen sink. Soon after, I went to a Wednesday night service at an Assembly of God church in Mandan, ND. I stepped forward affirming my faith and salvation in Jesus Christ.

The circumstances in my life continued to change and we moved back to Minnesota. The Lord heard my cry. He took me away to save me and clean me up. He then sent me back to be a witness for Him of His saving grace.