To dwell on the hypothetical is often unproductive and fruitless. But my heart is full of a good theme this week. That theme is the theme of my life; I am saved. 23 years ago today I became a new man. A radically different man from what I was; I became a child of God. I believed with all my heart that Jesus came and died for me. I took what the Bible says personally. God loved me even when I didn’t love Him and He made a way for me to be with Him forever. This despite the sin and demons that haunted me. In a moment I was changed. A moment that was only as long as a simple prayer of a contrite and broken man who found hope in giving over my soul to a slain Savior.
But what if I didn’t? What if I, in my pride, decided this Bible and Christianity stuff was for wimps and would only get in the way of what I wanted to do with my life. What if I thought; “No, better to be your own man, control your own destiny, and to hell with all that church stuff. They’re all hypocrites anyway.”
Where would I be without you, Jesus?
Well, here a five thoughts of just where I’d be without the mercy, grace and salvation of Christ in my life. Rather than lead with the hypothetical, I will lead each thought with where I am today and then consider the hypothetical, “What if?”. I do not write this to put anyone down or puff myself up at all. God forbid. I am nothing apart from Christ, and I hope that is what comes across. My heart is simply full of gratitude to God for sparing me from myself.
1. I do know that I am heaven bound. Hell bound is where I would be without Christ. I realize some of you reading this do not believe in a literal place called hell. But I did and do. I heard what the Bible really says about hell in March of 1991 and saw nothing in my life that would indicate anything other than I was heading there. That scared heaven right into me. I wanted no part of hell; nothing, zip, nada. But that was God’s grace being stronger than my sin. Left to myself I would prefer hell, not because I would actually want to go there, but because I would love myself too much not to end up there. By His grace alone, 23 years ago today, He changed my destination. Hallelujah! What man deserves that? Not me.
2. I do know that I am happily married to the wife of my youth. I can only imagine where I would be without Christ; but most likely I wouldn’t be there with my wife. Just consider the statistics we have all heard for years now and understand my wife and I were expecting a baby just 3 months after we met and were married 3 months after that. I worked nights and she went to college during the day. I was 25 she was 18. We couldn’t even afford to live on our own, so we lived with her parents. We were a recipe for disaster. Who survives that kind of start anymore? Virtually no one; without Christ. But Christ came into our lives and by His grace we are still married and more in love with every passing year. What man deserves that? Not me.
3. I do know that I am the father of six beautiful children. A father of fewer is most likely where I would be without Christ. There is a likelihood along the way I would have subscribed to the wisdom of our age and I would have had kids terminated in the womb. Sound harsh? It happens everyday, after all who has 6 kids these days? How impractical is that? Kids are functional, social apparatus, aren’t they? Besides, if I was on my second or third marriage (see #2) kids would just complicate things. God has taught me that children are a blessing; and they are. I can’t imagine life without a single one of them. Oh, the years of joy that I have had in seeing six lives entrusted to me! What man deserves that? Not me.
4. I do know that I have the greatest job in the world– pastor. I can’t imagine what I would be doing for a living (if anything!) with my life without Christ. At age 25 I was returning bottles at Tops. When it came to higher education I had flunked out of, let me see 1…2…3, uh, let’s just say I was more into partying than studying. You saved me and gave me a desire to be a pastor (How ironic is that?!). For me to actually graduate from college, get a master’s degree and even start work on my doctorate is undeniable evidence of some sort of higher power working in my life. Beyond that, you gave me a passion for something that really matters; helping people with their spiritual lives. Who deserves that? Not me.
5. I do know that I have hope. Without Christ I would be lost and desperate for something to believe in. I’ve been at this thing called life long enough now to see just how hard, cruel and unfair it all can be. I’ve seen precious lives ended or cut short way too soon. I’ve seen evil win the day more than once. I’ve seen injustice laugh at the helpless. I’ve seen innocent hearts broken by sin. It is enough to leave one hopeless. But I am undeterred and full of hope. The kind of hope that resides in me is something bigger than ourselves and this world; I have hope in God and His promises. Because I have hope; I have peace in this life no matter what may come. What man deserves that? Not me.
How about you? Where would you be without Christ and His saving work in your life? Oh that’s right, no sense in dwelling on the hypothetical; or is there?