Sitting in my office one Saturday afternoon, I was relaxed, listening to music my wife had on in the living room. Bill Gaither and his Vocal Band had always been a favorite of ours, but one song that afternoon brought back dark memories of a time I shall never forget. As the quintet began to sing, At the Cross, an old Christian hymn, I broke into tears.
I remembered well the day I first heard this same rendition sung by the Vocal Band. I was half-way across Texas in my 18-wheeler going nowhere with my life. Where I picked up the cassette with that particular song I do not know. I just know that as the Vocal Band started to sing, something electric began to happen. “At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light, and the burdens of my heart rolled away. It was there by faith I received my sight, and now I am happy all the day.”
But I wasn’t. Far from enjoying my ride through life, it was a time of trauma, uncertainty, and despair. I began to sing with them. The song was well known, a hymn with which I was familiar from my youngest days. I began to sing with them but never made it through the chorus. I wept uncontrollably, and for a few moments the cab of my truck became a sanctuary. I remember shouting, amid the tears, GOD! WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO? And, although I am not given to hearing voices, not even from God, a thought passed through my mind that had all the earmarks of a divine word. “All I want from you is the gift of a holy life.” And then, silence.
That day marked the beginning of my reconstruction. Slowly, and without fanfare, I began to put my life back together. There is reason behind the deep-felt appreciation I have for what God has done in my life. Few people know how far I have come from the lowest of all lows. No, it wasn’t drugs, or alcohol, or women, and my conscience is clear. But I had single-handedly destroyed what could have been a successful career, I had made some terrible choices, and life had thrown me out with the garbage.
You would be amazed at how many of us who preach the Gospel, sometimes with such enthusiasm we come across as “just another fanatic,” have, in one way or another, been to hell and back. When we talk of what God can do in a man’s life, we often speak from experience; we have been there.
When I reflect on where my sweetheart and I are today it challenges believability. If you knew me better, you could easily understand my love for Jesus Christ. Standing unrecognized in the shadows, but watching carefully over my progress, He was there. My friends will tell you I am no fanatic, but I am deeply grateful for what God – and I know it was God – has done in my life. He is a God of second chances, a God of the impossible, and the thoughts about which I write are more than empty words. They are the story of my life.