My friend Bill wrote the following and sent it to me. This is the Bill who occasionally gives me excerpts from his prayer journal to post. As I read this the irony struck me that he found eternal life on the grounds of a funeral home - in a place of death he found life. Isn't that the Gospel? The women went to the tomb on Easter morning expecting to find death but they found life.
No More Fear of Dying
Growing up, I was taught about Heaven and Hell so I knew that good people went to Heaven and bad people went to Hell. I believed that I was a bad person and was going to Hell. What I didn’t know, as Paul Harvey would say, was “the rest of the story.” I hope and pray that the following will help others know that God is a loving and caring Father.
For 38 years of my life I did not like myself because I believed that God did not love me since I was a sinner. Many times I would ask God to forgive me and then would go right back and commit the sins all over again. There were times when I should have gone to jail for the things I did. When I got away with them, I would tell myself that I was lucky. What I did not realized at the time was that “luck” had nothing to do with it. It would be much later in my life’s journey before I would realize this.
During our Thursday night Bible study recently, we were asked to read Hebrews 2:14-15 which says, “Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” [NIV]
When I read these verses, it all came back to me: the memory of being consumed with the fear of death. I was that person they were talking about in these two verses.
I remembered back to the day and time when my life would change forever and the fear of death was gone.
My wife had died and I had two small children. I was so overwhelmed by everything and I had no one to turn to for help. I was sitting in my office crying and begging God to help me when I remembered something: I had gone to a Needle’s Eye luncheon and heard someone talking about accepting Jesus as his Savior and how it changed his life. At the time, I thought to myself, “Whatever! Another feel-good story.” I was given something with a prayer inside showing me what to say if I wanted Jesus in my life. When I got back to my office, I put it in my desk drawer and went on with my life.
On this day, however, I opened that drawer and there was the pamphlet with that prayer in it. I thought to myself, “Well, I have tried everything else. Why not this prayer?” I went over to the grounds of the funeral home that was next to my office and sat down under a tree and recited the prayer, asking Jesus to be my Savior. I was crying. At that moment Jesus became my Savior.
For the first time in my life, I had “HOPE”! My sins were forgiven and I knew He loved me. For many years I had bought and paid for friends and now I realized that I always had had a friend in Jesus and it did not cost me anything.
All those times when I got away with doing something wrong (sin) and told myself that I was lucky – I realized that luck had nothing to do with it. God was there and He had a plan for my life and He was just waiting for me to open that door so my Savior could take control of my life. Once I accepted Jesus as my Savior, did all my problems go away? NO!!! But, He was there to help me through them. Did I stop sinning? NO!! But for the first time in my life, I knew with His help and by letting Him have control, sin no longer controlled me. I knew that God would forgive me and love me no matter what. Jesus paid the price for my sins and that day, on the lawn of the funeral home, the Holy Spirit entered into my heart.
When I looked in the mirror before I met Jesus, I hated the person looking back at me. When I look in the mirror now, I like that person looking back at me because I know God loves me.
My life is no longer a slave to death. When I asked Jesus to be my Savior, the chains of slavery to death were gone and I knew that I was a child of a loving and forgiving God.
Thank You, Jesus, for all of the pain and suffering that You went through in order that I would have eternal life with You and my heavenly Father.
Now you know “the rest of the story.”