From the minute I surrendered my life to Christ, I was radically different. I felt different. I went to work the following Monday, full of joy. As I went about getting supplies in the sterile core, I banged my knee on a door. Before Christ I would have been swearing up and down, but on this day, the words got stuck in my throat! It was as if a literal hand was inside my throat, grabbing the words and holding them back! I remember walking around in complete amazement. I remember thinking how crazy this event felt.
The following week, my younger son and I went to see a movie. This theater allows customers to purchase tickets from an automatic window, like and ATM. Before Christ I would cheat and buy the child’s ticket for my son even though he was old enough to be considered and adult. On this day, I felt compelled to do the right thing and pay the adult fee for his ticket. I marveled at this new found inability to do the wrong thing.
Suddenly, I was becoming a new person. I couldn’t get enough of Jesus or church. In earlier years, I had wanted to read the Bible, but would get just a little way into the story and lose interest. I had only ever managed to read Genesis, half of Exodus, the four Gospels and bits of Revelation. I enjoyed the Gospels, especially Luke, but Revelation was too scary for me to contemplate. I remember reading about the 144,000 chosen people and thinking I was doomed because there was no way I was one of those chosen people.
I became alive like I had never been before in all my life. Three weeks after I was saved, I was coming to the end of another bottle of rum and I had the strongest desire to stop drinking. I started to feel anxious like I had so many times before and I prayed for God to give me the strength to drive past the liquor store. I told Him there was no way I could stop by myself. I asked Him to give me the strength to get through just one night and I knew I would finally be free from this addiction. I was also a smoker at the time and I asked God to allow me to keep smoking for the time being. I wasn’t ready to give up 2 big addictions all at once. I spent that night feeling anxious. I was jittery and hyperventilating. In the end, thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit in me, I was victorious! After 5 long years I was free! I can’t begin to describe how awestruck I was. The desire to drink has never returned.
When I stopped drinking, I didn’t tell my boys. I wanted them to discover for themselves my new found sobriety. They actually didn’t notice for a few weeks. It was so fun to see the look on Robert’s face when he realized I wasn’t drinking anymore. He was talking to me casually when he went into the kitchen and opened up the refrigerator door. Suddenly, he slid into the living room so quickly I was reminded of Kramer from “Seinfeld”. He had this wide eyed expression on his face and asked, “did you stop drinking?!” I smiled and said yes! He came into the living room and hugged me and told me how happy he was for me. I told him it was because of the power of the Holy Spirit in me through Jesus. He said, “I don’t really know if I believe in Jesus, but Jesus is the best thing that’s ever happened to you and I am so happy for you!”
The next big change came pretty much simultaneously. I had to read the Bible and I had to get into some kind of study that would teach me all the important things I needed to know about the Lord and about Christianity. I was like a dried up sponge, parched and ready to have my thirst quenched. I was so excited to find out the church I attend had just the class I was looking for. Deep Faith is a six month class that takes a person through an in depth study of salvation, baptism, baptism of the Holy Spirit, gifts of the Holy Spirit, an overview of the Bible, praying, evangelism and serving. I truly loved that class and all I learned. I was also driven to read the Bible. I just had to know the whole story and I read the Bible through in 6 months.
The first book I read was the book of Job. I chose this book because people were discussing it in a forum on the internet. You may be thinking this was an odd place to start, but God, who ordains everything in His sovereignty, knew this was the perfect place for me to start. I don’t remember learning about Job as a child. A quick summary of the book is Job was a man who loved God. He was very wealthy and had a big family. Satan goes to God and arrogantly professes if Job lost everything, he would curse God. God tells Satan he is wrong and allows Job to lose everything. Despite losing everything, Job goes on to mourn and grieve and ask God why, but he never curses God. In the end God restores everything to him and makes him twice as wealthy as he was before. Somehow I knew if I had known this when my dad died, maybe I wouldn’t have blamed God for his death.