I was born into a God-fearing home where the Bible was read daily and church activities were an integral part of family life. Sports occupied a large part of my time in those early days and I have to admit that I really wasn't too concerned about spiritual realities.
But God began to speak to me about eternity, first in a terrible accident that killed 3 friends close to home. I also recall my older brother coming home from graduate school with the news that he had gotten “saved”. A while later, I left a Sunday School class in Toronto with a gnawing question in my mind: "Could I know for sure that I'd be in heaven when I die?" It became the greatest issue of my existence.
In my 2nd year of university, I began to attend Gospel services. The Lord?s words to Nicodemus - “You must be born again” - struck me with force for I knew that despite being religious, I had never experienced the new birth. In turmoil, I tried for months to “figure it out”.
By the start of 1971, I knew that I had to get this settled. Nothing else really had eternal significance for if I missed salvation, I would be lost in hell forever. Even my academic studies began to take second place. A kind Christian friend patiently explained God's way of salvation through the sufferings of Christ on the cross. I had always felt that there had to be something that I had to do but on March 6, 1971, alone on my bed in a boarding house, I discovered that the Lord Jesus had died for my sins and paid my debt for me.
All my sins were laid upon Him,
Jesus bore them on the tree,
God, who knew them, laid them on Him
And believing, I go free.
The load was lifted and the burden of guilt was gone. For 40 years now, I have known the Lord as my Saviour and have experienced the joys of salvation.
In 1974, I headed east to help spread the Gospel in Newfoundland and Labrador and spent the next 28 years in the province. In 1979, I married Barbara Tarrant of St John's and we now have a family of 3 sons. Since 2002, we relocated to S-W Ontario and presently live in the city of Kitchener from where we continue to seek the spread the good news of God's great salvation. If you're reading this and are not saved, I can tell you that after 40 years of being saved, you are missing out on life?s greatest blessing.
You can research world events for the year 1969 and you will not likely find any reference to what you are about to read. I want to share with you my personal story of how I became wealthy. To me it is the single most important event not only in 1969, but in my entire life.
Living a Good Life
It was quite a shock for me to discover that I had no chance of ever making it to Heaven based on personal merit. Somehow, I thought I would qualify. After all, my parents read the Bible to us every day. As far back as I can remember, reading the Bible and praying to God was an important daily activity for my parents as they raised the six of us.
If attending church improved my chances of being accepted by God, my score would have been very high. As a minimum, several times a week our family attended meetings and listened to messages from the Bible. My father, once a big-time party animal and fiddler, was a Gospel preacher. His life had been completely changed. I could see reality in the lifestyle of my parents. But as for me – I was empty. No peace.
I memorized verses from the Bible; I attended Sunday School and for the most part, behaved reasonably well. If getting to Heaven was something like accumulating air miles or personal merit points, I had a head start on most people. But something was missing in my life. I had no personal relationship with God. The connection that real Christians had, just was not there for me. So often, when I was alone I would think about where I would be in a hundred years’ time.
Worried and Vulnerable
I was worried about my future. I felt vulnerable and exposed when I thought of God. He could see right through me. As good as I appeared on the outside, He knew what I was really like. I didn’t like the uneasiness, the lack of peace, the bad conscience, and the absence of joy and security in my life.
I tried to ignore my spiritual problem. I tried to cover up my emptiness and hide my worries. I enjoyed my friends – our common ground was music and general neighborhood fun. I did well at school and my home environment was stable and loving.
Despite all the positive things in my life, I was hounded and haunted by the fundamental question of my status with God. I was not willing to cross my fingers and take a chance. 1969 was the year I stopped running from the question.
Alone in the Attic on my Knees
I will never forget the evening I climbed the attic stairs of 32 Gerald Street, in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island – our homestead. I had just eaten a special bed time snack of lobsters! With pressing matters on my mind, the lobsters didn’t seem to be quite the delicacy they usually were for me. I was preoccupied with spiritual matters.
I bowed on my knees beside my bed. I knew I had to be honest with God, but it was so hard that night! I told Him I was a sinner but I wanted to qualify the admission of guilt - “Yes I have done some wrong things, but I am not bad enough to go to Hell. There are many people who really deserve to be there – but I don’t.”
On my knees, I opened the Word of God, my Bible. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. I read every relevant verse I could think of. “By grace you are saved, through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any one should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
No Personal Merit Points
The Bible was clear. I could not get to heaven on personal merit points. I had none. I was a sinner. I could not hold anything up to God and tell Him to accept me because of my parents, or my decent behaviour, or my religious upbringing. The very last thing I wanted to do was to let go of the things that I thought earned me favor with God and gave me a special status. That night, on my knees, I learned from the Bible the only status I had with God was that of a helpless sinner.
Up until that time, I was completely occupied with myself; but things changed quickly. When I discovered I was stripped spiritually naked before God and I had nothing to offer Him for my sins, I was devastated. The last thing any human being wants to admit is ‘helplessness.’ Even a person at a beach, swept out by a rip tide, will desperately try to save themselves before they yell for help.
Cry of Helplessness
On June 2, 1969, I cried out to God words to this effect: “I am helpless. I am a sinner. I am going to Hell. Lord, save me.” For the first time, I looked away from myself and looked to the Lord. That night, I appreciated why Jesus died. He died for me. He took upon Himself my sins and was punished on the Cross in my place as my Substitute. “But God commendeth (proved) His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
There was nothing I could contribute towards my salvation. When Jesus cried on the Cross: “It is finished,” He announced to the world that He paid for our sins in full. The debt was fully paid by His death. It was up to me to either accept or reject His payment.
God is Satisfied
How could I be sure that God was satisfied with Jesus’ death as the full payment for my sins? I read in Romans 10:9 words like these: “If you shall confess with your mouth, Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” The proof that God was satisfied with the death of Christ as the payment for my sins, was the resurrection. He raised Him from the dead, indicating His full acceptance and satisfaction of the death of Christ as payment in full.
I am Satisfied
That night by my bed, I thought: “If God is satisfied that Jesus paid for my sins, who is a little pip-squeak like me in Charlottetown, PEI, to not be satisfied!” For the first time in my life, with joy I thanked God for sending His Son Jesus to die for a sinner like me. I too was satisfied with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Historians probably don’t rank my life-changing, destiny-altering experience very high in their analysis of noteworthy events in 1969. That’s okay. It may never make it to the history books of this world but the Bible tells me my name is recorded in God’s book in Heaven and will never be erased.
I can lose my health; I can lose my home; I can lose my friends but I can never lose Christ. He is mine forever. I am a possessor of eternal life. In 1969, I became wealthy for eternity. I have been enjoying peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ for 40+ years. I am absolutely sure of Heaven. I am secure for eternity.
No matter who you are or what you have done and regardless of your beliefs or religion, Christ is available to you. The inner peace and permanent joy for which you are seeking is found in Christ alone.
Jesus said: “Come unto Me, all of you who are weary and over-burdened and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 God loves you. Jesus died for you. Christ is available to you right now. Will you trust Him as your Saviour? Will you accept Him? Without such a moment of acceptance you will never be in Heaven.