I went to support a friend.
An Amway meeting. Not some gathering in a living room or even a hotel conference room. This was a large, 4-day weekend event at a national arena. A convention filling the arena. And I found a seat in the rafters.
Open-minded, I could see my friend’s enthusiasm and focus on his new promise for success. I also knew I was missing something, though I wasn’t sure this kind of thing was my cup of tea.
I went each day and found my nosebleed seat. I brought reading material. I did some writing. Supportive.
On Sunday morning, a star performer in the region began talking about how his front lawn had become his monument, his idol. He worked hard on his job every day, then came home and worked hard on his home and family every day. Every day. And then he found out something.
Here it comes, right? The big fireworks finale about this wonderful company on the last day of the convention, right? Nope. That’s not what he found (though he did eventually find the company).
The last two words I heard him say: Jesus Christ. I don’t know or don’t remember anything else he said, though he talked for another 20 minutes.
It was as if someone had grabbed my guts, heart, and brain and began wringing me out like a saturated sponge. I did hear the altar call and made it downstairs in the midst of my tears and spittle. They handed me a small New Testament and a sheet of paper listing a few verses I should read. Included in those verses was John 3:15 and the word: Whosoever.
That whosever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
Whosever includes me (and you).
I took the next day off and was at the Christian bookstore early. I listened to every preacher on the radio and found some good old Southern Gospel music to calm my fears and imaginations. On fire to make up for lost time (I was 34 years old), I devoured everything I could get my hands, eyes, and ears on.
The friend who invited me to the convention may have no idea what has transpired since that day. The service I’ve been privileged to do, the preaching I’ve been honored to give, or the years of struggle and trial for His name sake. While I’ve made plenty of mistakes and errors that didn’t glorify God, I strive to learn and apply His word in my heart and my life.
Thank you Jesus, for salvation. And thank you, Ted, for that invite almost 20 years ago.