My most important victory did not come on a baseball diamond, a basketball court, or a football field. After spending all of my teenage years competing, winning and sometimes losing, I had developed the belief that I could do anything I wanted to do if I wanted to badly enough. I might not be able to do as well as some, but I could always do better than I was doing. I could increase my speed and agility if that would bring the desired results. I learned that through determination and desire, I could do whatever I wanted to do.
I felt I could, in some sense, control my destiny.
This direction in life seemed to bring me everything a person could want. I had friends, popularity and recognition. To those around me, I had everything going for me. My life appeared to be wonderful. Anything I wanted to do, I could do. Anything I wanted to change, I could change. Every situation I could control, I controlled. One would think that life couldn’t get any better.
Friends, travel, excitement, adventure – what more could a person ask? Still, I was miserable!
What more could I have wanted? Purpose, that’s what! I wanted to know my purpose in life. Someday I would finish college. The playtime would be over. Life would soon consist of working to eat, eating to live, and living so I could go back to work. I felt there had to be more to life than that – I needed a purpose for my existence.
When I was walking across campus one day, a former all-pro football player stopped me. I didn’t know him at the time, but I could tell that he was an athlete. (This wild, mean pro football player had gotten saved and had become a preacher.) He grabbed me by my freshman football jacket as I strode toward history class and literally lifted me off the ground. With my feet dangling in midair, he growled at me words that I have never forgotten.
He said, “Do you know if you are going to Heaven when you die?”
I thought the guy was crazy, but I decided to humor him because he was so huge!
“I’ll go wherever you want me to go, man!” I replied.
As I went to my dorm room that night, his words haunted me. What would happen to me if I died? I didn’t want to die. I didn’t want to think about death. Thinking about death bothered me. For the first time in my life, there was something I could not control – something I could not change. I could not stop Death. At first, I became angry; I was angry that I ever had to be born if I had to die. Then I became frightened because there was something I could not alter.
This process of life that ended in death was out of my control.
All my life, if I needed to get stronger, I got stronger. If I needed more speed, I learned to run faster. If I needed to pass a test, I studied harder. If I was in the boxing ring, I refused to go down. But now I was fighting an opponent that I could not defeat. My strength, speed, agility, abilities, intelligence, desire and determination were ineffective.
Nothing could help me avoid death. I had to die. What would happen to me? I didn’t want to go to an eternal Hell.
Late one evening, I was going out to a party, as I had done many nights before. Almost every night I would visit a different place, but the party, the music, the lights, and the people were always the same. Everyone was searching for joy and happiness, searching for fun, searching for someone who cared that they existed. I was reaching for the door handle when something inside of me said, “It’s no use.
There’s nothing out there but emptiness.”
I stopped, turned around, walked back to my bed and sat down, putting my head in my hands. I felt hopeless until I looked up and noticed a little New Testament Bible on a shelf beside me. Someone had given it to me one day as I had walked across campus. I had grown up around church, so people had given me Bibles, before, but I had never paid much attention to them. I decided to read it.
I flipped through a few pages and tried to understand what it was saying. But nothing made sense to me. I gave up and was putting the Bible back on the shelf when it fell open to the back page. I took one more look.
There on that last page, I saw the greatest story that has ever been told. I saw for the first time the Roman’s Road plan of salvation.
Verses of Scripture from the book of Romans had been printed in the back of that Bible along with a short explanation for each verse that simply told how a person could go to Heaven when he died. While sitting on my bed in my dorm room at 10:00 p.m. on November 8, 1975, I read:
In Romans 5:12, it says that because we are sinners, we must one day die. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” I read that the death of which that verse spoke was not just dying and going to the grave, but separation from God for ever and ever in a lake of fire. That was the punishment for our sins.
Then I read in Romans 6:23 the best news I could have read. The Bible also said that Jesus Christ paid the price for my sin, a price I could not have paid myself unless I paid for it in Hell; Jesus bought Heaven for me. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” He paid the sin debt for me.
All I needed to do was trust Christ for eternal life. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” I read that whosoever meant anybody, and anybody included me. I also realized a precious promise from God Himself. He said that I “shall” be saved if I trust Christ – not hope to be or might be, but shall be saved. That is a promise from God, and God cannot lie; therefore, if a person trusts Christ as his Saviour, then God must save him from Hell.
Wouldn’t you like to know where you would spend eternity if you were to die? I knelt beside my dorm bed that night and prayed this prayer, “Lord, I know I’m a sinner and don’t deserve to go to Heaven, but I don’t want to die and go to Hell. Please forgive me. I’m trusting You tonight as my Saviour and nothing else. Amen.”
The Bible says that “ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) I trusted Christ. I know I am on my way to Heaven. I don’t have to be afraid any more. I’ve joined a team of champions led by the greatest Coach of all. My most important victory was won through Christ. Wouldn’t you like to be a part of God’s winning team, too?
It is one thing to know there is a God; It’s another to know the God that is.
If you just accepted Christ as your personal Saviour, please let us know so we can rejoice with you.