by John McLarty
I was born in the flat lands of West Texas in 1951. I would say I had a great childhood with no big problems. As a teen I began to experiment with the lifestyles common to the late sixties. In 1972 I moved to Northwest Arkansas to ‘live off the land.’ My friends and I told a local realtor that we wanted 40 undeveloped acres with a spring. He accommodated, and we were on our way. Little did I know that I was on my way to find the ‘living water’ of life.
In 1975, I married a ‘hippy’ girl who had three children. We lived in a teepee in southern Washington County. It is at this point that many testimonies talk about endless searching and frustration; loneliness and inner emptiness. Not so, for me. For one thing it is hard to be lonely while living in a teepee with three children. I was actually quite happy. I had found the ‘good life.’
That same year, through, an odd set of circumstances involving the digging of a well, we met a family from Latvia with ten children. The remarkable behavior of their children (when contrasted with our own) caught our attention. This family introduced us to the Jesus of the Bible. They told us that we were all sinners and that Jesus had died to take the penalty of our sins on Himself. Being told I was a sinner made me mad, and I told Lynn I would not go back to visit the family from Latvia.
That night I had an encounter with Jesus of the Bible. A supernatural presence revealed to me that I was indeed a sinner, a person who had spent his life seeking only self-fulfillment. The most impacting realization was that God was indeed real, and I had ignored Him for my entire life. I felt as if this One had his hand extended, offering reconciliation.
At this point, my lifestyle turned around 180 degrees. I attended church faithfully and lived the Christian life. I became a trustee in a Baptist Church. This is where my story turns to frustration and a lack of ‘inner peace.’ While living the Christian life, I did not feel like I had a personal relationship with God. Others would talk about God showing them things and speaking to them personally. I would always think, ‘Well, I just need to work on that part of my life more.’ As the years rolled by, I convinced myself that some had that extra ‘walk with God,’ and to just not worry about it.
There was one problem that would not go away. When I would hear a message about the coming of Jesus, or read a Bible passage like ‘The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night,’ I would go through a lengthy inner process about whether I was really ready to meet the Lord. On September 9, 1999 I was preparing a devotion for a study session the following day. There was that verse: ‘The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.’ Why did that verse unsettle me so? I found myself struggling with those old inner doubts. That night I concluded that I had never completely trusted in the Lord for salvation. Jesus told the crowd ‘repent ye and believe the gospel’. I had turned my life around those many years ago. However, I had never completely believed or ‘rested’ in the Lord for providing me salvation personally. That night, 9/9/99, I yielded my life to Jesus, asked for salvation full and free, and completely trusted in the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. From that day forward I began to experience that personal relationship with the Lord that I had only heard others talk about. Now when I hear a message about the coming of the Lord, I think, ‘even so come Lord Jesus.’