Frank F.

Frank F.

from KS
Story #230
MY TESTIMONY
At the tender young age of 42, a casual acquaintance attempted to persuade me to become a Christian. It was a novel thought for me. I had not been raised in church. There was no Sunday School in my childhood; no Vacation Bible School, Youth camp, or flannel board Jesus in a manger.
This witness was not particularly persuasive, and I was not particularly interested. Unlike most of the people he spoke with, I was not one of those “hurting people” who needed Jesus to fix my life. I was healthy, happily married, had a job that I enjoyed and a reasonable income, did not drink or smoke or do drugs. I was, in a word - content; comfortable in my own skin with who and where I was.
Several weeks into working on me, he did something that was very effective. He introduced a Third Person to the conversation. He invited the Lord to speak for Himself; making me a present of the Word of God ... a nice hardcover edition of the New Testament. Inserted in the front was a list of about ten verses that he requested I read. To ensure that he appreciated just how much work it could be to have me as a project, I volunteered to read the whole book ... if he would read the Koran. That staggered him, but he agreed.
I read mine from cover to cover in less than two days; not carefully, but carelessly and quickly. I had no intention of learning or retaining anything. It was my intent to discourage this guy, who was becoming tiresome. And it worked. Shortly after failing to uphold his end of the bargain, he came by our home one Thursday afternoon, and announced that he was giving up on my ever getting saved. It was obvious that I just did not get it. What was curious he said, was that if I ever did get saved, that most of the people I knew would probably never notice. My life as a reasonable lost person was very similar to what it would appear to be as a Christian. But, he said the two lives were like parallel lines that he could not get to intersect.
I saw him to the door, we said goodbye, and I gloated heartily as he walked away. I had beaten him at his own game. But that parallel lines thing was intriguing, and I considered it some more the rest of the evening. The more I thought about it, the more of a mystery it presented. I hate a mystery. It was still on my mind when we went to bed that evening. For hours I lay there and compared what I believed with what Christians believe. What was the difference between me and them? What was wrong with them?
They believe in “thou shall not steal”. Me, too. As a cop, I had put a lot of people in jail for that very thing. But, in less civilized circumstances, if you had what I needed ... I would indeed take it from you. Turning the other cheek is big in Christianity. Iʼm more of the eye-for-an-eye, plus the head school of thought. I had always considered it better to die on your feet than live on your knees. I had found out that real Christians spend a lot of time on their knees.
By three a.m., I had a pretty long list of comparisons and contrasts, but not really the answer I was looking for. And then I remembered it; my motto so to speak. It was My creed; my worldview. It was that central perspective, around which all the rest of my opinions and understandings were wrapped. Most people have one. “ He who dies with the most toys wins.” “Semper Fidelis.” “Do unto others..”, etc. Mine was the difference between me and them. It was practical and pragmatic, rather than wishful thinking.
I had found it as a young adolescent and lived it as an adult. To a fatherless child, it appeared to be a roadmap to manhood. Of all things, it was a poem:
Invictus.
Out of the night that covers me, black as the pit from pole to pole I thank whatever gods may be, for my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance, I have not winced nor cried aloud, under the bludgeoning of chance, my head is bloodied but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears, looms but the horror of the shade, and yet the menace of the years, finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not, how strait the gate...how charged with punishments the scroll I am the captain of my fate, I am the master of my soul.
I took comfort in remembering it nearly thirty years later. Though in fact, it had revisited me several times over the years. At least segments of it are quoted frequently in public discourse, especially that last verse. Once, when he was about 13, our son brought home something he had copied out of a book at school - Invictus. After glancing at the notebook paper for just a second, I handed it back to him and quoted it word for word. I told him, “You found my poem. I never told you about it, but I think I must have written that in a previous life or something. How strange that you stumbled on to it”.
Lying there in bed, I recited it to myself a second time. But this time something “snagged” as I heard the words strait and gate in the same line. Somewhere recently, that pairing had appeared. I had heard, or seen, or read it without realizing it had come from the poem. And then I remembered where.
Jesus was quoted in Matthew as saying, “Enter ye in at the strait gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the path that leads to destruction, and many there be that enter therein. For strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it.”
One was the truth, and one was a lie. I was living the lie. I saw my sin, my precarious circumstance, and the Savior all simultaneously. I was furious at having been deceived, and sickened that I might have passed it on to my son. He came home from college the next day. He not only remembered the poem, he became angry and stormed out when I tried to warn him. He called me crazy. The poison I had shared with him was apparently a fatal dose. I had hoped to reach him before going to God.
But, Sunday morning, sitting in my police car at sunrise, with no excuses and no bargaining, I prayed my first prayer. I confessed my sin and repented of it, asking God to forgive me, and save me. And He did. I had not slept in over 72 hours, as I had wrestled with my dilemma. It felt like I was vibrating, as though I had been on a two week motorcycle trip. But the moment I opened my eyes from praying, I felt as refreshed as if I had just awakened from a good nightʼs sleep.
Obviously, I soon began to plead the case for my sonʼs soul, but recognized that as Godʼs prerogative. A few months later, he was saved also. Trusting God to fix that has been my greatest leap of faith to date.
Since being born again, I have shared the gospel with hundreds of people, from Canada to Mexico, from New York to Moscow. I try always to introduce that Third Person to the conversation. The Word of God does all the heavy lifting. One person I wish that I could have met, needed to hear my experience. Ten years after I was saved, a young man penned Invictus from memory and signed it as his last statement, just before his execution. Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber and mass murderer, wanted to boast about his unrepentant worldview. I doubt it is much consolation as he sizzles and writhes in agony without end. Eternity is a long, long time.
Recently, the Lord placed a burden on my heart for an unreached people group. Many surveys have documented their tragic existence. Billy Graham, John MacArthur, D.James Kennedy, and Adrian Rogers have all mourned their condition and great number. The typical American church has a large percentage of its membership, usually approaching half, who are unregenerate. Theyʼve never been born again. For whatever reason, they have never connected the dots. They donʼt have a salvation testimony; canʼt convey any understanding of the gospel of grace. Instead, they are depending on their membership, their denomination, their baptism, their being good ... any number of non-factors to gain them admission to Heaven. Wrong gate; wrong path.
Being a Christ follower involves actually following, not meandering solo. The Bible says : For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. Unless they confront their sin and repent of it; unless they come under the authority of the Lord, they wonʼt be able to come into His provision. Unless they pick up the cross of self denial and actually follow Jesus, they will be shocked and horrified on Judgement Day. Jesus says He will tell them, “Depart from me, I never knew you”.
Who directs your steps .. you or God? You know the answer. If it is still you; always has been, you are treading dangerous ground. Enter ye in at the strait gate ... before it is too late; no one is promised a tomorrow.

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