“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Cor. 5:17
People who knew me before I was twenty-six, have asked what happened to me. Why I don’t do the things I used to do or think the way I used to think. My attitude and outlook are different. My previous attitude and outlook were fueled by passive rebellion. The rebellion was manifested in anger and it was hot.
I was angry about several things. My main concern was I didn’t seem to be able to fit in. We moved around a lot. In my twelve years of public education, I attended ten schools, in five states. I was just a kid without any special qualities to draw people to me. I was very shy. I was not able to verbally communicate very well. I was unsure of how to do things or how to relate to others. As a result, I developed an unseen shield of protection – an attitude of “take me or leave me- I don’t care!” But I did care.
While I loved my immediate family very much, it seemed like my Dad and I didn’t bond. We didn’t spend much time together or even talk about things. I think I grew angry about that. I would have like to have had his instruction, his insight. But that was not to be. He did instruct me in three things, which I remember clearly and practice to this day: 1) The part in my hair must be straight (if you look at my hairline now, there is no waver in my part), 2) my shirt buttons must line up with my pant zipper 3) my belt buckle must be centered on my shirt buttons/pant zipper. I do not walk out of the house without checking to make sure all is straight and in line.
I came from a semi-Christian home. My mother was a Christian and would take me to church. My father didn’t appear to be interested in spiritual things. As I grew older, I would do, think, say things which were contrary to what my parents or what God would want me to be. By the time I was twenty six, I was well aware that in God’s eyes, I was a sinner. My life showed it, my attitude showed it.
One day during a break at work, some of us were playing doubles ping pong. I went for a ball to the left of where I was playing. I landed on a table. I got up, laughed about it and went back to playing. That was on a Wednesday. By Friday, my chest was hurting and my left leg was dragging. I thought I had pulled a muscle. We massaged my shoulder, beat on it, put heat and ice on it. But it felt like I had been stabbed close to my heart. I couldn’t lie down because of the pain. I was propped up in a corner, sitting on the floor. On Monday, I went to my doctor. He did some test and sent me home. When I got home, the phone was ringing. It was the doctor’s office instructing me to go to the hospital immediately. I had a blood clot in my left lung about an inch from my heart and a pulmonary embolism (collapsed lung).
I stayed in the hospital for a week. My doctor, who was Cuban, said “ESteve, choo are a verry lucky boy!” I thought about that and about all the things we did to treat me. If that blood clot at moved another inch, I would have died. I would have gone to the place reserved for lost sinners.
My wife’s parents had been going to church. One day, as I was convalescing, I went to lunch with Terrie and her mother Pat. While we were eating, a man who went to church with Paul and Pat was at the restaurant. He talked with Pat and asked her how her son-in-law as doing and said he was praying for him. She introduced me to him. I was impressed that a stranger was interested in my well-being.
Terrie and I went to church, with her parents, after I was stronger. After a couple of times, I invited the pastor to our house to talk about spiritual things. Pastor John B Shelton was an older man, near the end of full time ministry. On Monday night, December 12, 1977, John B rang our door bell at 7:00 pm. John was a kind man, somewhat Grandfatherly. We sat at our dining room table. We talked about Heaven and Hell. Both I believe to be real. We talked about who would be in both locations.
After some conversation, I realized that I was a sinner against God. I could not save myself. John explained to me that God the Father required holiness and there was separation from him because of my sin. And because of that sin, I would have gone to Hell in my current state. But then he gave me the good news! Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, took my sin upon himself and died on the cross to pay my sin debt. He was buried and after three days, He was resurrected and ascended into Heaven.
I kneeled at my chair and prayed. I confessed that I was a sinner and I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. My faith was in what Jesus did on the cross on my behalf. I stood up after I prayed. There was no thunder or lighten, but what I did realize was that my rage was gone. It was replaced with peace. I was at peace with God. I was accepted in Christ. I was a new man. Old things had passed away and take notice, all things have become new.
I will still make mistakes and sin while on this earth. I know who I belong to and where I will be going when this life is over. My grandfather used to have a tag on the front of his car. It said “Saved”. As a boy, I would wonder “Saved from what?” The answer is saved from the wrath of God. Saved to walk in a newness of life, saved to praise and thank the Lord because He has been kind to me.
That’s what happened to Steve Elkins! Has it happened to you?