House Church Talk - what Jesus did

jim sutton goodword at
Sun Aug 22 11:19:19 EDT 2004

I think it was on a Thursday, the second week of February.

It was neither the first nor the last of the things Jesus would do in my life. 
 But I will never forget it, not as long as I live.

I was only 17 years old, but I had already reached the end of my desire to 
live.  I had no more reason to be here.

I had no family.  My life of crime was partly to blame for that.  There was 
also my refusal to work or go to school or to do anything meaningful with my 
life.  My mom, of course, would probably have put up with it.  But my step-dad 
had closed the door, telling me that I was no longer welcome in his house.

I had no friends.  Not that I really understood then what it means to have 
friends.  All my buddies were into crime and drugs, like I was.  And while 
there was a certain amount of honor among thieves, I guess, that honor was 
always tossed aside when it got in the way of greed or escaping arrest or even 
the desire to have someone else's girl.

And I had played out my hand over and over, taking advantage of every friend I 
had.  I had shown them all that they could never trust me.  So now I had no 
one else to call on for a favor.  I was all alone.

But not completely alone.  I did have the law on my back.  There were warrants 
out for my arrest.  Mostly traffic violations: court agreements I had not kept 
and tickets that I had never paid.  The police had never been able to prove my 
participation in any of the more serious crimes.  So I guessed that I was 

But who wanted this life?  Not me.  I had already fried my mind.  My use of 
LSD and a long list of other drugs had left me without the ability to 
concentrate or think clearly.  I was unable to sit still and do anything 

So it was obvious that I had no peace with God.  And if a person is not at 
peace with God, then there can be no joy, no peace inside at all, and no 
honest hope of a better tomorrow.  I was angry and ruined and without anyone 
to care in the world.  I had no place to go, and no reason to stay.

I wanted out.

I had wrecked my car, so I walked for hours across the big city, making my way 
to a place on the freeway where I might at least be able to get a ride out of 
town.  I needed to go away -- far away.  It was not my first time to hitch 
rides.  I had been traveling across the U.S. this way since I was 15.  I had 
been alone out in the desert before, and I was thinking about that now.  Maybe 
I would just go out into the desert and never come back.

I now walked backwards along the shoulder of the interstate, facing the 
traffic and holding my thumb out.  Literally thousands of vehicles passed by 
but no one stopped.  I walked down to where I finally had to climb over and 
walk down to the final stretch of interstate, the one that headed straight 
west out of the city.  I knew that I should have better luck here, beyond the 
interchanges and all the local loops of freeway.

But I still waited and waited, walking backwards, holding out my thumb. 
 Finally, a '61 Chevy pulled over and stopped.  At last!

I hoped this guy would be going hundreds of miles into the west.  But the 
first thing I noticed, as I reached for the door handle, was a big, black 
Bible sitting on the seat.  I stepped back for a second, thinking I'd just 
waive the guy on.  The last thing in the world I wanted now was some guy 
preaching at me.  Life was already bad enough.  But then I thought about the 
hours I'd been waiting for this ride.  I needed to get moving.  So I grabbed 
the handle, opened the door and got in.

Sure enough, Dan wasted little time in asking me if I knew the Lord Jesus.  I 
gave him my automatic response to such questions.  "Sure I do," I said.  "I'm 
a member of Timbergrove Baptist Church, right here in town."

But Dan didn't stop.  He said, "That's great, Jim."  And then he went on 
talking about all the things Jesus had been doing in his life.  He told about 
how Jesus had saved him from sin, and about how Jesus had called him to be a 
singer of the gospel message.  And he told about how he and his Christian 
friends would go around singing and telling people about Jesus.

The odd thing is, I wasn't getting bored with what Dan was saying.  He wasn't 
talking about church, about religion, about the Ten Commandments, or even a 
lot about sin.  He was talking about real life, and about how Jesus had given 
him a really great life.  Now Dan was doing good things, real things, 
meaningful things.

I found myself thinking of how great it would be to live like that.  Waking up 
every day with a purpose and a list of good things I had to do that day.  He 
also talked about all the other lives he knew of that had been changed by 
Jesus -- people whose lives had been transformed as a result of the work that 
Dan and his Christian friends were doing.  I thought of how I would like to 
have that kind of life.  A life that makes a good and meaningful impact on the 
people around me.  A life that helps to change the world in good ways.

I was sick and tired of my life of sin.  I had nothing good to show for the 
years I had lived.  All I had was a long list of crimes and other acts against 
all kinds of people -- acts against everyone I knew, plus lots of strangers. 
 No wonder I was ready to die.

It would be great to be like Dan.  But I knew it was too late for me.  I'd 
already wasted my life, my mind, my body.  I was too bad.  I had gone too long 
in sin, too far down the wrong path.  God already knew about me.  He would 
never forgive all the stuff I had done, all the lies I'd told, the promises I 
had broken, the things I'd said in my rage -- even things I'd said to Him. 
 No, it would be better for me to just go on out into the middle of nowhere, 
where I could never do anyone else any harm, and just die.

But still...

Dan was telling me that he was a college student, living at home.  He was on 
his way home now, and he invited me to his folk's house for a good meal before 
I went on my way.  I had no deadlines, no schedules to keep to, so I went 
along.  And in his family, I could see the same power of Jesus Christ at work.

He then offered to let me meet some of the Christian friends he'd been telling 
me about.  We went over to a friend's house where others were gathering.  And 
again, that evening, I could see the grace of God in Jesus Christ at work in 
their lives.  All of them told of how they had been lost sinners until Jesus 
came along and "found them," setting them free, giving them a new and 
meaningful life.  Some of them were now singers or musicians.  Some had become 
preachers, and some taught others about the kingdom of God in Jesus Christ.

It was wonderful, listening to them talk, and seeing all the things that Jesus 
was doing in their lives.  But I could not be truly joyful, knowing all the 
while that my own life was lost, ruined, destroyed by my own ignorance and 
sin, my own foolish choices.  If only I had really understood some of these 
things before it was too late.  But now it was too late.  It was beyond being 
late.  It was over for me.


I sensed, after a while, that the Spirit of God was speaking to my own heart, 
calling me to genuine faith in Jesus.  Genuine faith meant a surrender to His 
ways, His rule.  I could see how happy these other people were to know and 
serve Jesus Christ, but I found it difficult to think of myself as ever being 
that happy, that much at peace.  Would God really do the same things for me?

I struggled for hours with my questions, my doubts and fears, my unbelief.  I 
now had a kind of hope inside, but I didn't know how to act on that hope.  The 
Christians around me shared their stories and talked with me, and among each 
other.  They came and went from the room I was in.  I told none of them about 
what I was thinking, or how my heart longed for what they now had with Jesus 

But God knew.  And The Holy Spirit kept speaking to my heart, stirring up my 
longing for a new life, a good life, and a reason to live, breathe, and 
function again.  I struggled and squirmed inside, afraid to give in to such a 
strong hope.  I was so afraid that this, too, would turn out bad for me.  I 
was afraid that I would fail, that I would mess things up and let God down.

But God kept speaking, calling to my heart.

And finally, late that night, I told a couple of the guys that I wanted to 
pray.  I wanted to give my life to Jesus Christ.  Many of the others had gone 
home by this time.  I went into an empty room and knelt down at the foot of a 
bed, and I opened my heart to God.  I confessed my sinfulness to Him, admitted 
my lost condition, and I asked Jesus Christ to save me from my sins.  I asked 
Him to take over as the Lord and Ruler of my life.

I cannot express to you all that happened inside my heart and mind, my very 
soul, as I prayed.  All the old guilt and shame, all the heavy, heavy weight 
of misery and anger and fear was washed right out of me as the grace of God, 
the peace of God flowed in.  Suddenly, for the first time in my life, I could 
feel the Presence of God, like heaven itself was right there in the room with 

And for the very first time in my life, I had real joy -- the kind that makes 
you want to sing and shout.  I was amazed.  I hadn't expected to feel 
anything, to sense any kind of immediate change.  But now everything was 
different.  Really different, from the inside out.  I could tell that I 
already had a brand new life in Jesus Christ.  Right then and there.

That was a long time ago.  I could write a book about all the things Jesus did 
for me that night, and in all the days and nights since then.  I've been 
anything but the perfect Christian.  I've messed up all kinds of things, in 
all kinds of ways, many times.  I even lost my faith for a while.  But God has 
been with me all the way, in every step and in every moment, helping me, 
teaching me, training me, and picking me up whenever I stumble.  And my life 
is not the same as it was before.

Immediately, that very first night, I was released from the old things that 
had held me down before.  I was able to go back and tell my buddies, and my 
old girl friends, and my parents what Jesus did for me.  And some of them, 
including my parents, also gave their hearts to Jesus Christ.  And He changed 
them, too.

I met my wife a few months later in a little country church just outside the 
city.  We both loved the Lord Jesus then, and we both love Him now, some 34 
years later.  We have 3 children and 10 grandchildren.  And the Lord is at 
work in every one of their lives, too.

I don't know how your life has been so far.  I don't know all the things 
you've been through.  I don't know all the wrong things you've done.  But I 
can tell you one thing for sure:  Jesus Christ will set you free.  He will 
take away all your sins, and give you a brand new life.  He will transform 
your heart and mind, giving you hope and joy and purpose and meaning.  You 
will discover why you were born and what you should do with the rest of your 
days on earth.  And when your life's work is done, Jesus will take you home to 
be with Him forever.

So now it's just a matter of deciding what you really want.  If you want a new 
life in Jesus Christ, if you want peace with God and a reason to live each 
day, then God will give you those things when you place your faith in Jesus. 
 Jesus will do for you what He did for me, and for millions of others all over 
the world.

The Bible makes this promise: "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be 
saved." (Romans 10:13)

And again it says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, 
you and your household."  (Acts 16:31)

"The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. 
 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry 
and save them."  (Psalm 145:18,19)

God bless you as you take the step that will change everything from darkness 
to light.


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