If I had to use one word to describe my life before I met Jesus Christ, it would be…
I was angry with everyone and everything. Angry at my Mom and Dad for their divorce after 25 years…Angry at my brother for getting killed before we could become friends…Angry even at God for making me unable to change, no matter how hard I tried.
Proverbs 29:22 says, “An angry man stirs up strife, and a hot-tempered man abounds in transgressions”
and that was my life all through my teen years…angry turmoil and transgressions.
Oh, I had my share of “religious experiences.” As an altar boy, I often felt close to God. I even went forward at a Billy Graham movie. I remember being quietly ushered out the back of the theater to a next-door church basement where I was told by a counselor to “read your Bible…all the answers are in there.” Reading my Bible lasted about 30 minutes and one and a half paragraphs (I was a very slow reader). No matter how many times I tried to “turn over a new leaf” I always failed and returned to my anger.
Some people can’t understand how one kid could kill another over a skateboard, or a driver shooting another driver because of a traffic violation, but I can. I know that with a life of anger, there is always rage waiting just under the surface. When I was around 10, I was practicing archery in my yard. A neighbor kid came over and started teasing me. When I asked him to leave he refused so I notched an arrow, cheeked it and ordered him to go or I’d shoot…he smirked at me and said “you wouldn’t dare” so I shot him right between the eyes with a steel-tipped practice arrow. Miraculously, the arrow hit right on the bridge of his nose. I could have easily killed him but God was gracious. He ran home bloodied and I went back to my practicing.
As Proverbs says, “an angry man stirs up strife” so, strife was always present in my world. Strife with my Dad finally came to a head when he kicked me out of his house when I was 18. As I was packing my things, the angry thought hit me that it would be an act of justice to kill him with one of his own guns – I stole a shotgun, cutting off the barrel and stock to smuggle it out of the house. This became the focus of my life. I practiced for hours to be a good enough shot to kill the object of my anger…my own Dad. And, even though there was a mandatory prison sentence attached, I carried that sawed-off shotgun everywhere…even to college.
I planned, considered, even dreamed of all the details but fear stopped me. I knew that murder and suicide would not be pleasing to God and that He would think it justified making me fail even those simple acts of anger. Being all-powerful, it would be easy for Him, I thought, to mess up my suicide attempt and leave me a vegetable for the rest of my life, or worse yet to live as a cripple in prison for the killing of my Dad. I figured God had exactly that kind of sense of humor.
I was lost – not enjoying life but afraid to try to end it.
Then came Christmas break and the last of my “religious experiences.” During midnight service on Christmas Eve 1967, I told the Lord I was really tired of my life. I was tired of not being able to please Him by being good (whatever that meant). If He wanted me to live a better way, He was going to have to take the initiative and help me do it…end of prayer…end of “religious experience.”
“free 30-day trial”
My college roommate was a new believer and was afraid to tell his “very angry and very troubled” roommate about Christ. He asked an upper class-man who was involved with the Navigators ministry to come and talk with me. After a few hours of my questions and his answers from God’s word he left. And I asked Christ into my life on a “free 30-day trial” basis. If God existed, and if Jesus Christ could come into my life, forgive my sin, and give me real peace, I wanted that to happen. If this was not true, I wanted my life back. The deal was that I wouldn’t tell anyone about my decision and someone had to notice a real change in me…within 30 days. And God met me where I was. Within 2 weeks someone noticed, and of all people, it was my Father who asked why I had become so “religious” all of a sudden. The 30-day trial was over – that was January of 1968. I knew that the Holy Spirit had come into my life and made a fundamental change. Thirty days have become over 30 years. My anger has cooled and my love for Christ has grown. He’s provided peace, a loving family, and a secure eternal destination. I was even able to share with my Dad how Jesus Christ had saved his life by changing mine.
John 14:27 has become a reality in my life experience…
”Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid.”
If I had to choose a word to describe my life as a Christ believer, it would be “Confidence.” I didn’t have it all at once, but over the last 35 years, the Lord has taught it to me. Confidence that He is a prayer-hearing and a prayer-answering God…that my salvation is eternally secure as a son, born, adopted, and married, into His family…and that while on this earth He has a sovereign plan for my life, a plan that may not always be fun but certainly will always be a blessing.
I have also discovered that confidence is ice on the fire of anger. Confidence in God’s acceptance and personal love quenched my poor self-image. Growing in a knowledge of His Word and seeing my sharing of it bless others, put to rest my anger at what I perceived as an inability to make a difference in life. Even the anger toward my parents has been healed to the point where I could share Jesus with them. My mother has become a believer and perhaps even my dad, but both have been told of my love for Jesus and for them.
Jeremiah 9:23, 24 states that a man should not boast in his own wisdom, his own might, or even in his own riches, but he should boast in this, “that he understands and knows me (God).” I’ve learned the meaning of the word “boast” isn’t “brag” but would better be translated “glory in.” In my new life with Jesus Christ, I have come to “glory in” the fact of His working in and through me and that I have come to know Him personally.
That’s the cooling peace that has overcome the heat of anger in my life… and so I believe!
Think about it…