From a Pastor’s Journal

Sunday morning, November 18, 1984

“When the alarm went off at 4:59 this morning I had a five or ten second vision—or was it just a split second—of the utter realness of dying and standing before an utterly holy God with nothing to commend me but my own life. The horror of it was only surpassed by the flash of reality: Jesus Christ died for this moment. Then it was gone.

“That was about nine minutes ago. My immediate sense was: this is the essence of what happens whenever someone is converted. This is how Jesus Christ is discovered to be real. This is how a person comes to cherish the love of Christ. Suddenly, for the first time, they see and feel with the eyes of their heart the undeniable reality of having to meet God with a guilty conscience.

“The impact of that vision is devastating. It causes them to know that their only hope is a Mediator. Standing alone, with nothing to commend them but their own sinful life, they are utterly lost. If there is any hope for eternity in the presence of this God, we will need a Redeemer, a Substitute, a Savior.

“At this point of terrible crisis nothing shines forth but the gospel of Jesus Christ—‘who loved me and gave himself for me’. In the split second before he was there I was granted to see the all-engulfing darkness and horror of the judgment—not a theological inference, not a merely rational conclusion, not a mere thought, but a glimpse with the inward eye full of knowing and feeling and certainty.

“Our God is a consuming fire. He will not look upon evil. We are utterly lost. My guilt was so huge, so real, so unquestioned in that split second that there is not even the remotest possibility of making excuses. It was sudden and all-enveloping and infinitely hopeless.

“In this instant Jesus is all that matters. O Christ! O Christ! Can my heart contain the wave of gratitude?! O Gift of God, My desperate and only Need!”

Thankful for an early morning gift of love,

Pastor John

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