"Knows for sure!"
I was baptized as an infant and went to church weekly. During first through eighth grade I attended St. Catherines, a Catholic elementary school and went to mass and daily religious lessons. I later became an alter boy, received the sacraments and even engaged thoughts of becoming a priest.
My parents, brothers and sisters not only attended church but were good moral people. I attended services many times when the rest of my family didn’t, by riding my bike three miles into Ravenna. Even at a time when many depart from their faith or church attendance, those college days, I remained faithful. I can even remember “blowing off” two wrestling practices my sophomore year in college. I felt I needed to get closer to God and mass was only available once daily, the same time wrestling practice was going on.
Like many, I was very active during my school years and didn’t give much attention to the “heavier things” of life. I was a good student, a good athlete and attained several awards and leadership positions in other organizations.
Before I knew it I had a Masters degree and my school days were over. Now those important issues started flashing in my mind: What is life? Why am I here? What will I do?
I guess I thought scholastics, athletic success, or developing a financial empire would bring me happiness and peace of mind. Although I didn’t achieve world class levels in any of those areas, I realized such success would not bring me the peace of mind I was seeking.
In may of 1977, I started employment at Lincoln School were I presently work. I took the Job for selfish reasons. I was employed as a non-certified teacher (midway between an aide and a teacher, both pay and responsibility wise), which gave me a seven hour work day and no work to take home.
The first day of work, I was approached by a friendly guy named Bill, who spent the better share of his free time quoting verses from the Bible to me. I went home that night feeling quite frustrated and told my wife I had made a mistake taking that job.
Well, Bill was faithful with his preaching, but what I couldn’t figure out was, “Why me?”. He asked me soul searching questions like: “Is the Bible really the Word of God?”, “Do you know for sure, if you were to die and stand before God and God was to ask you: ‘Joe, why should I let you into my heaven’, what you would say?”.
In addition to all that he shared a book with me titled, The terminal Generation, by Hal Lindsey. On the cover it said, “Man can live 40 days without food, 3 days without water, 10 minutes without air, but not one second without HOPE.”
For a little over 2 weeks Bill shared with me my need for a personal relationship with God as opposed to a religious relationship. On May 18, 1977 I slipped into the bedroom of our little rented home in Grand Rapids and had a conversation with God that changed my life, and is still in the process of doing that.
Two verses shared with me by Bill would not leave me alone. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8,9. God did a work in my life and helped me realize that I was trying to earn my own salvation when all along Jesus had taken care of it on the cross and was offering it to me as a free gift.
If you would like the inner peace and joy that only He can give, you can have it today:
(2) Be willing to turn from your sin.
(3) Believe Jesus died for you.
(4) Invite Him into your life.