|The Safari Of Life ...
In the great safari of life - the journey we all travel,
there is one central question we all must deal with - (no exceptions) -
the question is:
This is my story of what transpired in my life. While everyone's journey may be different, no one can escape the absolute reality about the decisions they make for Jesus Christ in their life - their journey. Oh yes, no one knows when their journey will end and when it will be too late to make that decision. "Drive carefully!"
Gary R. Hendricks
|When I was quite young, I can remember I
was at a Southeastern Iowa
my grandfather, on my mom's
side, was dying. It was somewhat devastating as it would be for most. As
a youth in that facility, I was not permitted to be with my grandfather
all the time in his room. Frequently during the ordeal it was necessary
for me to reside in a waiting room.
While in that room, I remember finding a booklet called "This Was Your Life". The booklet described the life of a man who lived life well and died suddenly. The story goes on to share what the Bible says would happen AFTER the man had died. The man had to appear before a living God who looked to see if he had asked for the forgiveness of his sin through what Jesus Christ did for him on the cross of Calvary so many years ago. The book continues to show what would happen if he had asked Jesus Christ for forgiveness and made Him his Savior and Lord.
(You can review the whole booklet by going HERE.)
|I can remember saying to myself, "When I am about to die, I need to pray that
prayer and ask God to save me 'just before I die'."
The thought always occurred to me afterwards "what happens if I died suddenly and I didn't get the opportunity?" (That DOES happen!) I never addressed that issue, therefore I was ultimately "at risk" on not getting the job done.
(If I were to die and
I had not made that decision about Jesus Christ - by default - I WILL
have made a decision!)
|As time pressed on, high school passed and college introduced me to a time where everyone's opinion was: "I'm smarter than most, intellectual, analytical, brilliant, (all together too youthfully arrogant) and consequently questioned that God even exists." From peer-pressure and analytical considerations, I came to conclusion that there was the distinct possibility that "God," "religion," "existence after death (in whatever form)" were probably myths without substantiation or proof.
|While in college, I went on a trip to an industry-related convention. Of the people in the vehicle I rode with two were "Jesus freaks - "Christians" and two were exactly the opposite - then there was me. The whole trip was filled with opportunities and challenges to see how we could foul up "the Christians" in their stand for Christ. It didn't work - they stayed their course and were not unpleasant to deal with while the three of us were wholly unfair. However, at the end of the trip, I remembered how the Christians were the ones who would "be there" when I needed help throughout the trip while the others were questionable at best to be trusted for any assistance. I also remembered saying to myself "Sometime I need to find out if God is real or not - if He is, I need to pray that prayer".
|Later that year, I looked at one of the bulletin boards at
I attended and noted a
posting where someone was selling his whole record collection. At the time, the
record collection had some of the best music available at awesome prices. Later
I found the person and asked him "why are you selling all these albums?" His
reply was "things have changed in my life and I have some other music that I
have grown to like a lot better than these albums." My reply was "That's cool -
what kind of music are you listening to now?" His reply was "I've become
interested in music that is really encouraging - it's called 'Contemporary
Christian Music.'" My response was "Oh brother, another one of those
"Christians" - another "Jesus freak". As the conversation ensued (with my
"anti-Christian" guard on full alert), he shared the reality of how current
events and many historical issues point to the reality of the existence of a
living and very active God who really cares for us.
|He also dropped a bombshell of logic that was irrefutable:
|At the conclusion of that I determined that once and for all, I needed to get the
answer to this whole "Christian" and "God" thing figured out.
"The next time I run into one
of those really sold out Christians, I need to be able to give them all the
evidence that they're wrong."
Consequently, I proceeded to look at a lot of things and "research" from sources that were on the "Christian" side of the argument and those that were against "God," "the Bible" and anything to do with Christianity. An odd pattern began to develop - those who seemed to really know God seemed to genuinely understand, were caring, and had a love and respect for what I was doing. On the other hand, it seemed that as I tried to carry a balanced opinion for the research, those who were against all these "Jesus" people were given to just about every problem and vice available - drugs, alcohol, divorce, critical sarcasm, cynicism, anger, bitterness and had a greater propensity to really foul language (something that was part of my life).
|The guy who was selling the music then stopped by one day and gave me a book
"Evidence That Demands A Verdict" by Josh McDowell. As I read the book, just
about every argument I had about Christianity was addressed. It was becoming
very apparent that God IS and He IS in control this very day. "I need to know
more - I need to get to know Him if I possibly can."
In a quest to actually know God, I started to read a couple of Bibles that had been deeply buried on my book shelf. When I found them, I began reading the New Testament. It was really weird - the chapters were really interesting and almost seemed to jump out of the book. I had been in Sunday School when I was a kid and remembered how boring the Bible was - in wanting to know God, things took on a whole new reality.
|While I was in
college, I had taken employment with the local school system as a
janitor in a junior high school. On one of my nights off, I heard that
in the school's auditorium, there was going to be a Christian music
concert held. I decided to see what it was all about and slipped into
the concert. I remember I wasn't too crazy about the style of the music,
but one of the people who sang at the concert presented some interesting
concepts I had heard but it hit home
|I prayed that prayer and meant every word of it. I couldn't deny the very
reality of who He is and how much He cared about me to bring me to this point
where I WANTED to choose Him and not by coming to Him under anyone's
persuasive words, pressure or derision.
A few nights later, I wasn't completely sure if "I got the job done" and felt it was important enough that perhaps I better consult with someone who had things together in this area. I called the guy who sold his music and went over to his house. I told him what happened and he shared that there's nothing wrong with "making sure." We prayed together and told God that we were concerned and wanted to make sure things were right and I asked God again for His forgiveness. With my friend "the music guy" there I had someone who could attest that indeed I had made that decision and had asked Jesus into my life.
|Things were good afterwards, knowing that "my forever" was taken care of and
things were finally "right" with God. That alone was really good to know.
however in my daily life really seemed to change that I could tell. One thing that did happen a
couple of weeks after my decision to live for God - several friends confronted
me and asked (seriously) what was going on. Historically, I had a real
problem with anger, cynicism, depression and fowl language. They had been concerned that something was
really wrong by reason that I was significantly more sedate and hadn't been
swearing like I normally did. I had no idea what was going on and was
completely perplexed -- it caught me so off guard. Later I realized that God was at work
changing things in such a way that I was unaware of things getting changed from
the inside out - good things.
|A number of years have passed. As I look back, this was a strategic time of my
life. The journey through life hasn't been perfect, however as I have kept a
careful focus on getting to know God's Word, the Bible, I have never yet
regretted the path I've chosen.
While many will choose not to ask Jesus to be their Savior and Lord, I can attest that those who do will find truth, life, and practical day-to-day benefit in pursuing the things that are important to the very nature of God. The only practical way to know and understand that IS to ask Jesus to forgive you of your sin and to make Him the Lord of your life.
By no means (as many will attest), have I become perfect, spotless, or "arrived" since I've made that decision. I am THE FIRST to tell you I make a lot of mistakes and don't "get it right" all too often. When things go wrong, I can now get forgiveness, counsel, solace when everything is going nuts around me.
When I'm "on-track" with Christ, things run smoother. As we pursue Him, we can better know His will as time goes by.
|Questions? You bet! Now's
the time to ask - BEFORE the big "pop quiz" at the end
of this life! :-)
If you need more answers to direction in your safari of life, I'd be glad to point you to the best resources I know of that could be of help. You can e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a really GREAT forever!