|Waves of Mercy|
I was laden with sin and guilt, but within me I wanted to do right. I just
didnít know how to do it.
I was born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania to a Roman Catholic family, was introduced to the church at an early age and was baptized at eight days old. I grew up in a family with many problems. My mother had to leave when I was very young. The Scripture says that "a child left to himself bringeth his mother shame." I grew up on the streets and learned all the ways of the world. At about the age of twelve I was put into a reform school for 2 Ĺ years. This reform school was run by the Catholic Church. Different surrounding states would send their problem children there in hopes that they would be reformed. Within the first half hour that I was there I was introduced to the faculty and athletic director who was a retired football player from the Redskins, named Gene. Gene said to me, "Come here you water lily." I was young and fair and I came to him in fear and trembling because I was in a place much different than I had thought it would be. He grabbed hold of my nose and hit me twice and gave me a bloody nose. Then he said, "I want you to know who is in charge." That put such fear in my heart that I cannot explain the feelings of utter abandonment I, as a child, felt. My father was gone and my mother had already been gone. Like the Bible says in the Psalms, " I looked on my right hand and I looked on my left, but there was no man that cared for my soul." In that institution we lived in fear. There was a lot of physical abuse. It was an absolute den of iniquity and wickedness. You would have had to be there to know it.
After 2 Ĺ years I was allowed to go home to my fatherís house for Christmas and I vowed I would not go back to the school. When I told my father this, he took my bags and threw me out in the street. I was on my own at 16. I got a job working at a bakery for a short time and as soon as I turned 17, I went into the military. Because of the way I was raised, when I went into the military, I was again in trouble and on a nine month cruise I spent 105 days on restriction and 3 days in the brig with nothing to eat but bread and water. I was a wild man, like the Gaderean. After I got out of the military, I woke up and said to myself, "I want to get married, have a family and do things right." I grew up on the other side of the tracks and I did not want that for my family. I had every good intention, but I did not know the builder of the house, Jesus Christ.
I was laden with sin and guilt, but within me I wanted to do right. I just didnít know how to do it. I met a young lady and we were married, but in 12 weeks she left and absolutely broke my heart. The total vision of all the let downs in my life came back to me. The vision that I had, the joy, knowing I could do it right, and learn from my past experiences, was gone in a flash. It broke my heart so badly I couldnít eat and I lost weight. It took a long time to get over that hurt. I would call upon God and there was no answer. The only God I knew was a Popish god. I only knew an idol. I laid on my Crucifix at night and cried. After a time the young lady and I divorced.
About a year later I met my present wife, Arlene. We had been married a couple of years and had 2 children, but life was still very gray to me because I had a sin burden. I had tried hard but couldnít get rid of it. I went to church, I confessed my sins to the priest, did religious works and the more I did, the more empty I felt. I had this burden of sin and of God and I was fearful of dying and going to hell. The fear of hell was instilled in me in the Catholic Church. I asked my wife who had come from a Christian home, to read to me some passages about hell from the Bible . I never knew the Bible and had never read it. Being raised a Catholic, I never had one in my hands. Every time she read to me it put me in more misery and greater fear so I would tell her to stop reading. There was no answer. I would lay in bed and think about God, "Is there a God, what is happening here, why am I in this condition?" At that time I started going through the radio stations and listened to a minister a few times, but I never heard the message. I needed a Savior but I didnít know where to find Him.
During this time, I turned on the radio and I heard a minister from Canada. I didnít know what I was waiting for, but God had in the right place at the right time, the right man. He opened my ears. After I listened to him I had a revelation that Jesus Christ paid the full penalty for all our sins. I remember he said, "If you are in your bed, get out and get on your knees." I was in the bed, it was like he was talking to me. The Spirit of God was talking to me and I got on my knees. I understood that He died for me and I just received the finished work of Jesus Christ. "If He be for me who can be against me." It was very simple.
I had never read the Scriptures, I only heard that message. The power of God in His Word was tremendous. I didnít know where to go to church, I had no idea. The only thing I knew was the Catholic Church. One night I was lying on my bed looking up at the ceiling and I envisioned on this side of the room the Catholic institution and on the other side, nothing. I knew nothing else. I knew Protestant, but what church. I said, "God, who represents you?" I had a hunger because of the new birth and I had to search out the Word and God had to lead me, but I had no idea where to find this Word. I never even knew how to look, I just knew the experience that I had on my knees, but God knew. I went to sleep that night and I was very troubled, "how can I find God, how can I find His Word?" I needed the breast of God but I couldnít find it. Toward the week-end I told my wife, "we have got to find a church," because I felt that in the church is where God was. Even in the Catholic Church I thought that God stayed in the little golden door in the Tabernacle. I thought that it was where He stayed. I had a strong urge to go to church. We had just moved into the area and we didnít know any churches. I said, "Lets get the newspaper and see if we can find a church." I only knew the Catholic Church and we had been told that there was salvation only in the Catholic Church and for me to look any other place, put fear in my heart that I would die and go to hell. I looked down the list. Baptist, I had no idea what a Baptist was. I had no clue. I knew about the Lutheran Church because we were told about Martin Luther. The Catholic Church talked evil about him and called him a devil. It was so confusing to me. They all claimed to be Godís church. I was so ignorant, but the Lord does not leave us alone. He is a good Father to us. He was not going to leave me there. I said to my wife, there is something that keeps coming to me, over and over, "an eighth of a mile north of Sellersville, on the old 309 highway, come out, we are a friendly church." It came to me over and over and I said to my wife, " what is this Ďeighth of a mile north of Sellersville on the old 309 highway?í She was raised about five miles from there and she said on that hill there is a church on the right hand side. I said, "Lets go there." Now I know that the Spirit of God was leading me there because I was hungry and I needed milk. God was going to see that I would have my portion.
We arrived a little late. There were about 600 people there and as a Roman Catholic I came in the door and looked for the holy water. There was none. So we proceeded down the aisle and found a place to sit and as a good Catholic I genuflected, blessed my self with the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost and slid into the pew. I was lost in this church so I was watching everybody to see what to do. When the song leader came out and began leading the song service, I felt the Spirit of God. The people sang like they were singing to God. The Bible says we are walking epistles and that day I was reading all the faces of the people. When the Pastor came out I said to Arlene, "Where are his priest garments?" She informed me that they were called pastors not priests. I felt really bad about that because I felt that he couldnít be a man of God because he didnít have the priestly clothes on. I was very apprehensive and wondering if I had come to the wrong place. There was no stained glass windows, no altar, no statues. There were no Ďkneelers" and I thought to myself, Ďthese people do not honor God, they do not kneel to pray.í I was judging. The Pastor said, "everyone open the Bible and read..." Someone saw that I did not have a Bible and they gave me one. This was the first time I had ever had a Bible in my hands. I didnít know where to find the place I was to read so I handed the Bible to Arlene and she found the page. At this time I did not even know there was an Old and New Testament. When that pastor began to read and preach, the Spirit so arrested my heart that I can remember leaning forward and holding on to the back of the pew, trying to look between the heads of the people so I could get closer to the Word. I was sorry that I had sat so far back. I was captivated and the tears were running down my face. I never knew God was in His Word. I didnít know the Word of God was so powerful and so sharp. This minister was just a man and didnít even have on the proper clothes but his words were so powerful and sharp and he was so anointed. God revealed Himself to me. The Bible says that they that have sinned much, love much. You couldnít keep me from church. That poor pastor. I worked a night shift and I was often at the church early in the morning asking, "what does this Scripture mean?" I was so intense. I was looking through Roman Catholic eyes and still had my Rosary, but God knew my heart. Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free."
Like a new born baby I could not get enough to eat. I read the Bible every available moment. I read in the Scriptures, "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking." I knew that God only wanted our prayers, not the Hail Marys. He wants only simplicity from the heart. He does not want us to be heard of men. He knows our hearts. He knows our cries and He wants to meet every one of our needs. I donít have the words to tell you what it meant to me when I heard this minister preach. I had been told I couldnít pray directly to God. God was some austere god up in the sky with a whip, but He was now ministering to my heart. God wanted me to know that the things I grew up with, did not represent Him. They did not represent the Living God. When I expected thunder from heaven because of my sin, I felt waves of mercy and grace and forgiveness and I can not begin to tell you the change God made in my heart.
Let all the heavens praise His name for He has redeemed me from a horrible pit. He hath clothed me in light and glory, shall I not praise His name? Oh, dear saint, lift up thy head for He cometh. His bosom is warm. His arm comforteth. He is ever merciful and will not cast away he that cometh to Him. We come to thee, Oh God, for we have tasted of Thee. Thou art our life. We shall live with Thee in thy great house and behold those that thou hast redeemed out of every nation, kindred and tongue and our children shall behold thee as they play in the streets of Thy New Jerusalem.
Our righteousness is totally apart from ourselves, within us dwelleth no good thing. All of our righteousness is as filthy rags. The prophet Isaiah said, "The Lord hath laid on Him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all." We have a God that loves us and cares for us.
A. Admit that you are a sinner and that you need a Savior. The Bible says "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Admit that you are unable to save yourself from your sinful condition which has separated you from a holy God.
B. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16:31). To believe on Jesus Christ is more than simply to acknowledge that He exists. To believe on Jesus as your Savior is to accept His sacrificial death as the only means of your salvation and that He conquered death by His resurrection. You must believe that it is "by grace are ye saved through faith, and not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8).
C. Call upon the Lord. The Bible says, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13). To call upon the Lord means to cry out to Him in repentance for your sins. The Apostle Peter said, "Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" ( Acts 2:38). The Apostle Paul said, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:9-10).
Ask Jesus right now to forgive you and to save you. Repent of your sins and ask Him to come into your life Ė and He will!
Invite Jesus in now! Pray this prayer:
I have read your Word.
I understand that I am a sinner,
and that I need a Savior.
Please come into my life.
I ask You to forgive my sins,
and make me a new person.
I want to serve You and live for You.
"Jesus saith unto Him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
If you desire further spiritual help please feel free to contact me at the address below.
Mr. Robert J. Seewald
232 DeArmon Trail
Lonsdale, Arkansas 72087
"TO SERVE THE PRESENT AGE,
MY CALLING TO FULFIL,
O MAY IT ALL MY POWERS ENGAGE,
TO DO MY MASTER'S WILL!"
MAYNARD G. JAMES