Bible Guys’ Testimonials
I was born into a Roman Catholic family and was raised to be the same. I went to parochial school through the fifth grade and graduated from the Springfield public school system. I was a Boy Scout who reached the rank of Life Scout. I served my country as an Operations Specialist (radar man) in the United States Navy Reserves and spent nearly two years on board a ship. During my military tenure, I married and started a family. After I was discharged from the service, I went to college. My wife and I bought a house, and we expanded our family with a second child.
All seemed very normal. Oh, there were a few bumps along the way, there always are. I had managed to stay alive through my teens and into my twenties, which in the fifties and sixties was an accomplishment in itself. Those were the decades in which the drug and alcohol culture took great strides forward. Life was great!
Then it happened. Life got out of balance. I was attending college full time and working two jobs, one full-time at night and one-part time after school. My wife and I were having serious problems, partly due to my hectic schedule, and drinking. I had only one semester of school remaining. Surely we could hold on until I graduated. Wasn’t there someone I could to talk to about all of this? My upbringing taught me to go see a priest. "He will help you!"
So I did. It was Christmas eve 1976, I went to midnight mass and stayed after so I could talk to a priest. I had been drinking, but I remember everything that happened. I was praying the prayers I was taught, the Our Fathers and the Hail Marys. I was waiting for the priest to finish and come over to me. After all, that’s what he was supposed to do. I waited, and I prayed those prayers. And I waited, and I prayed those prayers, and I waited some more and I prayed those prayers some more. The priest finally came over, because he said he had to close the church up. I told him that I had been waiting there to talk to him. He told me he had seen me, but he thought I would just work things out and go home. I started to tell him about my situation, and he told me that I should just go home, because my problems were probably not as serious as I thought they were. It was more likely that I had had a little too much to drink and things would look different tomorrow. Besides, it was Christmas eve! I should be happy, not sad. "Go home to your wife and children, enjoy Christmas, everything will be fine tomorrow."
I left the church that night feeling like there was nowhere I could go...no place to turn...no one to talk to. The very thing I was taught to depend on wasn’t there in my hour of need. I knew there was a God. At least I thought I knew there was a God. Everyone I talked with said the same thing as the priest did. Everything will all work out.
Well it didn’t work out. About two months later, my wife said she wanted a divorce. I asked what we could do to make things work out, but nothing I could say or do would change her mind. What I didn’t know was that she had a boy friend. You know the saying, ‘the husband is always the last to know’. I started drinking heavier, and also turned to drugs. Not hard narcotics, ‘just’ marijuana and hashish. I was on some kind of constant "high" for the next several months. Even though I somehow managed to maintain my grades I hardly remember my whole last semester at college. I graduated with second honors, and should have been one of the happiest people on campus that day. I believe I was the saddest. My whole life, as I knew it, and built it, was gone! All the reasons I returned to school were no longer valid. In fact, they were non-existent. I had no hope, no life, no home, no where to go, and no where to turn. Everything was not different in the morning! Things did not get better with time!
That summer was the worst time of my life. I tried to pull my life back together. Nothing seemed to go right. I had seriously considered killing myself. I had an old beat up pick-up truck that I had considered just ramming into a tree. I still remember looking very long and hard a one in particular. It was a nice big oak tree! It had to be 2 ½ - 3 feet in diameter. On the last pass by that I remember, as I started to squeeze the steering wheel and turn toward the tree, I heard a voice say "Knowing your luck lately, you probably won’t get killed. You’ll just end up crippled or something." I stayed on the road and continued on my way. A few days later I contacted an old acquaintance for some help in getting a car. Well, wouldn’t you know it, he started witnessing to me! I thought, "What’s this? The last thing I need now is religion. God had already failed to answer my prayers. Where was He when I needed Him? What can I say to get this guy off of my back?" He told me how going to church and ‘finding God’ had turned his life around and made him a new person. Then he invited me to come to church with him. I thought for a moment and said, "Why not! It can’t hurt me. Nothing can hurt me at this point in my life."
I did go to church that Sunday, and I’ve been going ever since. Not just Sunday, but Thursday evening also, and Bible studies in between. I didn’t get saved that morning; it was a few weeks later. I kept going because I began to feel something that I hadn’t felt in a very long time...love. The people genuinely cared about me. I began to feel the presence of Almighty God in that place.
A few weeks later as I was sitting in service, I began to feel something missing. I realized it was the burden of sin! It was gone! I actually felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I had been praying at home, not the Our Fathers and the Hail Marys, just talking to God, asking for Him to forgive my sins and come into my life. I wanted Him to be in me as I saw Him in the lives of my new-found friends. I, too, wanted to make Jesus my savior. God had not abandoned me after all. He had actually heard me those many months before. He had a different plan for me than the one I had for myself.
God has done so much for me. I have learned to trust Him for everything. It doesn’t take very much to find God. The scripture says, in Isaiah 35:8, that salvation is so simple that "...the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein." It must simply come from the heart. Truly being sorry for your sins and asking God to forgive them.
I now know what the song means by ‘Joy Unspeakable’.