James J. Jackson

"In His Time" 
I was born the ninth of ten children. By my fourth birthday, both of my parents had died from medical conditions. I was reared by my father’s brother and his wife, who took us to church and Sunday School and displayed Christian integrity in their personal lives. 

They told us that our mother had prayed that the Lord would protect each of us just before she died. My aunt died of cancer when I was eighteen, and my uncle died from a stroke a year later, when I was a sophomore in college. Needless to say, it was a great personal loss to me, but I worked my way through school, and began my life as an adult. I knew the Christmas and Easter stories, and I tried to live a good life, but I had no idea what would happen to me when I died. I also dealt with inner struggles. I believed that both sets of parents were in Heaven because they were such good people who always helped others and tried to do what was right. But I was having a tough time living ‘right’. No matter how hard I tried, I continued to fall into sin, even some of the ‘big’ ones, so I felt I would have to do much more good in order to balance out the bad and render myself good enough to go to Heaven. 

I began to view God as an entity that I could turn to in prayer whenever I was in trouble or had made a mess of one of life’s situations. He always came through, but I simply put Him on the shelf until the next calamity arose. My worship life degraded to the point that I rarely attended church. The Biblical teachings that I had been exposed to as a child only caused me despair because my interpretation of what I had been taught was that I had to be perfect in order to be acceptable to God. I was far from perfect, and fading fast! 

I prayed for a wife, and God sent me a wonderful Christian friend, whom later became my wife. Donna attended church regularly, and asked me to attend with her and the kids. I did so on occasion. One evening, a group of Evangelists from a local church we had visited came to our home. They asked us two questions: 1. If you were to die tonight, are you certain you would go to Heaven? 2. If you were to die tonight, and stood before God, and He asked why He should allow you into His Heaven, what would you say? I was surprised when my wife said that she knew for certain that she would go to Heaven, and my heart instantly began to long for such assurance. 

I learned that night that we all sin, and cannot save ourselves, that God is merciful and doesn’t want to punish us, but that He must punish our sins. I learned that God resolved this dilemma by sending His Son, Jesus Christ to live a perfect life and to take the punishment for all sin. They showed me in Scripture that Jesus offers eternal life, for which He paid with his suffering and death, as a free gift! All I had to do was trust Him alone for my salvation. I also learned that Christ wants to sit on the throne of my life, to guide me through life until I join Him to live forever in paradise. This was almost too much to handle. It seemed too simple, too easy. There must be something that I can do to earn this eternal life. The Lord showed me beyond a doubt that night that He had done it 

all. I prayed to receive Christ as my personal Saviour. In the twenty years that have passed since that night, the Lord has, indeed, shown me an abundance in my life that I never thought was possible. My four daughters graduated from Christian school and have gone on to college. Three have established homes of their own. I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel to Africa and twice to the Philippines to train church workers in personal evangelism. The Lord constantly brings opportunities to share my faith through this wonderful gift of writing that He bestowed upon me. I write columns for two newspapers, and I try to include my Christian values and beliefs in each article I write. It has been a blessing to hear from so many who have been touched by many of my columns, and I give all the glory to God. The Triune God no longer sits on a shelf. He now sits on the throne of my heart and directs my life every day. I don’t wait until a problem arises to pray. I pray and thank Him daily, and my worship life is foremost in my life. I need only repent and turn away from my sins, and God forgives them because of what Jesus did. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I cannot ‘do’ anything to earn salvation, but I have it as a gift from the giver of all good gifts. Praise God!