Sinner stumbled into salvation
When I was a young civil engineer, I was ambitious. I wanted a great career, the fancy house and an expensive car. I never thought about God in those days. I guess I believed that there was a God, but whatever he was had little, if any, relevance to me. God was the man in the sky. If he existed, I was confident that he knew I was sincere, and that was all that mattered.
I had moved to Philadelphia to join a construction firm that was in financial trouble. If it worked its way out of trouble, I would become one of the owners of the firm. Our problems meant meeting and working with the firm's lawyer. I had never met a lawyer until that time and did not understand what lawyers did.
This fellow was named Bill, and he had a Bible on his desk. I thought that all lawyers had Bibles on their desks. I began to learn about lawyers and the law. In that process I came to like and admire our lawyer. I realized that Bill went to church regularly, and he said grace when we ate lunch together. I had never known anyone who said grace.
Billy Graham came to Philadelphia that year, and our lawyer invited me to go to one of the meetings. I did not know who Graham was or why anyone would bother to go see him, but I thought that my lawyer friend could help me in my career endeavors, so I accepted the invitation.
As we entered the meeting, I heard singing and I liked the tune. Then Mr. Graham began to preach about what the Bible said. I had never read the Bible and was totally ignorant about it. As Graham spoke, I realized that I was a sinner and that had some serious consequences. I began to understand that I was lost, separated from God, his love and provision.
Graham also offered a solution. He said that God had sent his son into the world to pay for my sins. Graham said that Jesus loved me, and invited all of us in the audience to accept the sacrifice of God's son for forgiveness for their sins. He challenged us to get up out of our seats, come down and stand in front of his pulpit. I did that, even though I felt embarrassed and silly. After all, I was important and above this kind of emotional stuff. But I knew I needed and wanted the new heart that Graham had described.
I stood there with hundreds of others, and when Mr. Graham led us in his closing prayer, I repeated his words as sincerely as I could. Then the meeting was over. I went home and life went on; nothing seemed different.
Ten days went by when late in the evening in my bedroom, I opened the New Testament that the Graham team had given me and began to read. Suddenly the room got brighter, almost dazzling, and I realized that Jesus had come into my room. We talked about an hour, and he told me that everything would be all right.
Forty-four years have passed since I discovered that Jesus was real, that he was the son of God, the savior of the world and, most important, my savior. Jesus loved Murray. He still does. I know a lot more about Jesus and the Bible today than I did back then. I know that he loves you the same way he loves me.
All it takes to discover the love that God offers is to accept the gift of salvation that He offers. It's so simple, so easy, yet so difficult. Just a few words: Jesus, would you save me? Would you be my Lord? Would you forgive me? Jesus will do all those things for you. Things will never be the same, and you will be delighted.
The Rev. Murray Hohns is a minister at New Hope Christian Fellowship.