A Spark of Honesty
When I was growing up, we lived in a housing project in San Francisco, California. Some people would call me the victim of a broken home. After our parents divorced, my mother began sending my brothers and me to Sunday school with our older sister. We went for quite a while, until my sister told Mom that if she did not start coming with us, she would quit going. Our mother started coming to Sunday school and liked it, so she began attending church services also. That meant my brothers and I had to go to church, too, and I did not want to go. Thankfully, God’s Spirit began to speak to my heart even though I did not want to hear what He had to say.
As a teenager, I didn’t want to be like my friends, because I could see where their lives were going. I didn’t want to be like my father, because I could see where his lifestyle had led him. However, I wanted what looked like the good things. I wanted to have a lot of fun without the heartaches that were at the end of a life of sin. Yet, I was not willing to yield myself to God.
One time I was sitting on a garbage bin in front of one of the buildings in our housing project, waiting for some of my friends to come along. There was no one to talk to, and I felt the Lord’s Spirit begin to speak to my heart. I told Him, “Just leave me alone!” I did not want to feel convicted for the things that I was doing, even though they were not terribly bad.
God took me at my word, and His Spirit did not deal with me for a couple of years. There was still a fear inside that held me back from getting involved with drugs or alcohol or some of the other things that take a person down. Yet, little by little, the influences in my life were taking me down the wrong path. There was no peace in my heart, and peace was what I really wanted.
My mother saw there was a spark of honesty in me, and she also saw the way I was headed. She sent me to Portland, Oregon, to live with my sister and brother-in-law. They were willing to take me in, to teach me the things of God, and to try to keep me from going deeper into a life of sin.
When I arrived in Portland, I knew no one but my family. I did not have a car or a driver’s license and did not know how the bus system worked. So I went to church with my sister, and it was there that God’s Spirit began to speak to my heart again.
The church was having a series of special meetings with services almost every night. The very first service I was in, God’s Spirit spoke to my soul so strongly that I could look down and see my heart beating through my shirt. I thought, What am I going to do? It seemed to me that there was not much of a future in serving God. As I sat at the back of the church, I tried to hide behind a four-inch post, but that was futile.
For three nights in a row, I sat in those services and felt God’s conviction on my soul. Three nights in a row, the same man came and asked me to pray. Two of those nights I said, No. The third night, the conviction on my heart was so heavy that I told God if that man came back once more and asked me to pray, I would go forward. As soon as we stood for the final song, I saw him head my way. My brother-in-law came toward me from the other direction. So I stepped out into the aisle before that gentleman even got to me, and I said, “I’ll go.” When I knelt at the altar of prayer, I did not know how to pray, though I had heard many prayers in my life. I did not make a full connection with God that night, but it was a starting point.
A few months later at camp meeting, one of my friends was saved. He and a couple other fellows came up to me and let me know that I needed to be saved. They just kind of boosted me toward the altar of prayer. That night I felt in my soul that I had to get saved, there was no more time for fooling around. About half of a minute after I began to pray, the peace of God came into my soul. It was such a relief! There was such joy and happiness that I felt as if I was walking on a cloud when I left the church that night.
A number of years have come and gone since that night, and there have been some storms. Yet God’s peace has been good. There were times when I thought I could take hold of the reins and steer myself, but that was a mistake. God’s peace abides when I just let Him lead my life and do my best to follow. I know the Gospel is real and I love it with all my heart.