AMAZING GRACE I grew up on a farm by the South Loup River near Pleasanton, Nebraska, where I had a wonderful childhood nurtured by parents who loved me. But at a young age, I decided there was no God- that religion was man’s way of keeping society in check. As I thought about space and the vastness of it, I just couldn’t see God. So turning my back on what my parents had taught me, I went about life for me, doing whatever made me feel good or looked like fun. When my mom passed away in 1981, I was upset at knowing that she now knew what she believed during her life. In the past I had said about her, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! Her whole life is Jesus.” Shortly after my mom died, I was fishing late at night on a frozen lake in Minnesota, and I cried out to God, “If You are real, give me something, so I can believe!” I would have taken a falling star or anything, but all was still that night, and I went on living for myself. In 1995, my dad passed away. As we Planned his funeral, I asked for the song “Amazing Grace” As the congregation sang that song, I sat with pursed lips, hurting over the loss of my dad who had always prayed for me. Before he went to be with the Lord, Dad gave some Bible encyclopedias to my brother and told him, “Give them to Ted when he comes to know the Lord.” He also signed me up for a monthly devotional called Amazing Grace. For the first two years after Dad’s funeral, I threw it in the trash. I went on selfishly living life for me, me, me. During my life I have “tried it all”: drugs, sex, alcohol, and more. I had decided my life was all about getting money and “stuff.” In November 1997, my monthly devotional Amazing Grace came. I remember laying it on our kitchen table. I was traveling, entertaining, driving a company car, and making lots of money. But once while traveling; I heard a country song by Randy Travis, which included an instrumental in the middle of it that sounded like Amazing Grace. For two weeks during that November, I would hit the “seek” button on the radio and, as it scanned the stations, I would hear the song by Randy Travis. I even saw a billboard that said something about God’s amazing grace, and I remember thinking, “This is getting weird!” The morning of November 22, 1997, I came out of Comfort Inn in Fargo, North Dakota. As I prepared to leave, I turned on the radio. When it didn’t play, I looked to see why. Suddenly, Amazing Grace began to play. I pondered, “What if I was going to believe in Jesus? What would my wife, my kids, my friends, the dealers I call on say?” With my arms outstretched, I spoke out loud, “No! No! No! No!” I put the car in gear and drove away, saying “No!” to God. That evening after supper, my wife went to sleep on the couch, and I sat down to watch a heavyweight fight on HBO. Shannon Briggs was fighting George Foreman. Briggs came into the ring to rap music and flashing lights. HBO dropped all the lights but one that shone on George in the tunnel. The PA boomed, “THE FORMER HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD, BIG GEORGE FOREMAN!” The song that accompanied Foreman into the ring was “Amazing Grace”. The instant I heard the song, I believed for the first time that there IS a God and that He cares about me. I went upstairs and, through tears, repented of my sin. I knew that I had wronged God. “For have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23 You see, the home where I had grown up was a Christian home, with parents who knew Jesus Christ personally and lived for Him. I had heard the good news that Jesus had died for my sins…. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8 ….and that He had risen from the dead. So I told my Lord, “I am yours, and I will try to live the rest of my life for You.” “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; the life which I now live I live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20 Therefore, as I believed God in my heart that night, and at the table confessed with my mouth my need for Christ, Jesus became my Lord and personal Savior. “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed” – Romans 10:9-10As my first “baby step” in my new life, I went downstairs and woke my up my wife, uncertain about how she would react to all of this; I told her everything. She welcomed my decision! She had given her heart to Jesus earlier in her life, and has since rededicated her life to Him.Since that night, I have tried to live my life by saying “Yes” to Him, by doing what He has said to do. It started by leading a bible study in a jail and continues now with the ministry at the Columbus Rescue Mission. I continue to try to become more like Jesus, and I have never been happier. I know I am forgiven, and I have a very close relationship with God. My life is not without trouble, but it is better than it ever was before Jesus. I love Jesus!What has God been doing to try to get your attention? If you have made a mess of your life, or that inner person you see in the mirror is a mess, I encourage you to turn to Him, repent of your wrong and ask Him to change your life from the inside out.He Will Do It!To help you along, get involved in a loving, caring church fellowship where you can be open and honest with others and where God’s truth is taught with grace. Read and meditate on the bible daily. Memorize key verses that apply to your struggles. Commit yourself to daily prayer, demonstrating that you trust and depend on God. Prayer is conversation with God, it includes both talking with Him and listening for His direction.I invite you to come and see me. I would be glad to connect you with people who really care, or answer any questions you might have.By the way, it’s not the song that is amazing – it is God’s amazing grace that He loves us!
Chaplain Ted Pearson