A Long and Winding Road: How I Came to be a Calvinistic Christian

Back in the mid-seventies, I was stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C. and one year, well, during our annual rifle requals, my shooting coach was a Sgt. who was a born-again, spirit filled Christian (I hope you Arminians who believe in Calvinists being the “chosen frozen” are paying attention here), he was also a rock solid, hard core Marine.  One day he invited me and some of the guys in my unit to go to church with him at his church in Wilmington, N.C.  I accepted.  I saw in him a glow, a joy that despite the drugs, despite the alcohol, despite screwing every skirt in sight, I was a very unhappy camper.  So,  being as I wanted what he had, that joy and peace, I accepted his invite.

Well after several weeks of attending his church, a Sword of the Lord reading [Sword of the Lord  is a religious paper popular among Fundamentalist, KJV’ers], KJV only, Independent, Fundamental [men don’t wear long hair, women don’t wear pants] Baptist church, I finally joined because I saw other people there with that same glow and joy and peace. I wanted it and figured, well, I guess ya gotta be a “Christian” to get this stuff and be in the church.  So I did believe (in my head) that Christ was God who came to earth, took on humanity, lived a sinless life, was betrayed, tried, crucified, and rose on the third day, so I became a “Christian,” got dunked and everything.
I still didn’t have that peace, that joy.

Weeks went by; Church every Sunday morning and night. Sunday School every Sunday morning. I learned me a lot of Bible.
Still didn’t have that peace, that joy.

Sunday mornings when the preacher preached and choir choired, I would get goosebumps all up and down my arms I was so moved.  But back on base,
I still didn’t have that peace, that joy.

Several months went by, the Sgt. who I only saw now at church, left for a,…. a,…. (shhhhh. quiet) a “Calvinist” church.” It was a major scandal. To hear the deacons or the pastor talking (always in whispers) you’d think he’d joined a satanic cult.  I kept going to church there, faithful every week. Even worked in the bus ministry.
I still didn’t have that peace, that joy.

Well, of course, that’s why, why didn’t I think of it sooner?  I was still drinking, doing drugs, f__king and smoking cigarettes and everyone knows; Christians cuss, don’t drink, they don’t f__k, they don’t do drugs, they don’t smoke. So, I gave up cussing and drinking,
and still didn’t have that peace, that joy,
and f__king,
and still didn’t have that peace, that joy.
I gave up drugs, and yes, even cigarettes! Get back to base
and still didn’t have that peace, that joy.

One day I overheard someone saying how deacon so an so lost his position because they found out he was f__king deacon such and such’s wife. Hmmm. Real Christians don’t f__k huh? That night at base,
I had even less peace..

Shortly after Deacongate, I was cleaning the head of the bus ministry’s bus and what do I find under the dash of the bus? A 3/4 full bottle of Jack Daniels. Hmmmm. Real Christians don’t drink huh… Went back to the base that night and never returned to that church. I had become an enemy of the “Church” and “Christians” bunch of frauds and fakes that they were. The one real Christian who left months earlier (who I did see from time to time on base and was still a real, hard core Marine) they had been bad mouthing for months. And me, I was more miserable than ever because I saw no hope in this religion.

I became such an enemy of Christ and His people that I even beat down a street preacher one day because he dared to be on “my” street interrupting my walk to the bus stop. So I took his white board off of its stand, broke it across his head and beat and kicked him bloody, then told him if I ever saw him there again I would kill him. “Christians” are all just a bunch of fakers anyway, well, except for a few. That night and for years to come,
I was without peace, without joy, and without hope.

The sex, the drugs, the every sin I could find didn’t fill that empty void in my soul.  It was only by God’s sovereign grace, after I had hit rock bottom, in jail facing a minimum of 65 years in prison for Attempted Murder and other charges, and was seriously considering taking a knife and cutting my own throat that I head His voice saying “Come to Me Michael.”

The odd part of what happened next is, the voice I was hearing was that a little Paisa,  Mexican national who had been picked up on a probation violation.  He entered this large cell were I was, maybe 30’ x 10′ with about 20 men in it, all making noise, talking banging on the cell door, etc.  He went and sat down at the other end of the cell, on a bunk next to another paisa and began sharing the Gospel in Spanish.  Now, I’ll admit I know Spanish.  But I’m also hard of hearing.  Despite that, clear over where I was, I hear a Voice, in English
“Come to Me Michael.”

I knew who it was; who it had to be and I said,
“But Lord, I can’t, I can’t I’m not worthy, I’m no good.”
He said, “Come to Me and be My child.”
I said, “But Lord, I cannot, I’m no good. I have nothing to give You.”
He said, “I didn’t ask you for anything except that you come to Me.”
I said, “But Lord, You, You can’t possible want “Me,” I’m no good, I’m a loser, a failure.”
He said, “Come. Just as you are and I will make you My own.”
“But Lord, You don’t know what I’ve done.”
“Yes, I do.”
“But Lord, You don’t know about this, and that, and this other thing.”
“Yes, I know about those things too. I know everything about you Michael. Every sinful thought, word and deed.”
“But Lord, I don’t understand. If You know all that, how could you want me.”
He said, “Son, I have wanted you since before I made the world. I was just waiting for the time when your false pride and willfulness would be broken enough for you to listen, for you to see, that it’s not about what you can give to Me, but about My eternal Love for you.  You see son, you already belong to Me, I paid the price for you long ago. I just want you to come to Me now.”
I finally got wore out and told Him, “Lord, I don’t understand it, but if you want me after all that, then for what it’s worth, I’m Yours.”  At that moment I felt unconditionally and truly loved for the first time in my life.  Someone who knew every dark, dirty little secret of my heart and still loved me, unconditionally.  My life was transformed that day and has never been the same since.  I’m not perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination, but I am different.

It was only years and much study later that I learned about the doctrines of God’s Sovereign Grace, a/k/a “Calvinism.”  By then I had already learned them in the Scriptures only afterwards finding out that what I had become in my theology of God’s Salvation was a…., a….. “Calvinist!”  It was at that time I stopped all studies with what I had learned were “Arminian” churches. Oh I’ll still attend one, if there is no Reformed church to attend. But that’s another matter.

The unconditional nature of God’s love towards me, a sinner was something I could not and still have not gotten over. That He had chosen and paid the price to redeem me, long before I was ever born, even knowing then, everything that I would do in this age, impressed me. That His Son’s sacrifice on the cross ensured my salvation assures me yet today. And that He has promised to work in me, to finish the work He began in me gives me assurance and hope for the future.

Folks, I urge y’all, go where the Lord leads you to go, trust Him, and put your faith in Him.

Pro 3:5-8 NKJV
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.
8 It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.

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