The two witnesses who helped change my life
By Dr. Robert Owens
If it's my way or the highway I choose the Highway, God's way. You see I tried my way and it led to depression, despair, and loneliness. The best I could figure out is if this is all there is let's roll out the barrels anmd have a party. My life before Christ was like the meaningless forever party at The Restaurant at The End Of The Universe in Douglas Adam's iconic Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The band plays on, the people careen through life in a mad dash to nowhere, everyone is laughing, smiling, miserable, and heading toward oblivion.
In the doomed life without Christ people mistake happiness and laughter for joy and waste their lives trying to tickle themselves to death.
After thirty wasted years sacrificed on an altar of senseless, self-indulgent, self-destructive tickling I chose the Highway. I chose to make Jesus the Lord of my life because I believe in my heart God has raised Him from the dead. I came to believe Jesus offered Himself up as a sinless sacrifice to pay the price of not just my sin but of everyone's sin. I came to understand that the wall of separation caused by sin between humanity and God was broken down and we can all be united with Him. I embraced the truth that we can become His children. We no longer are strangers but members of His family welcome to walk boldly into our Daddy's throne room.
Have you ever felt as if there's no hope? Don't be fooled by the god of this world. There is hope. Have you ever felt like you were too far gone, too wrong to ever be right again? Don't be fooled by the confusing systems of laws that litter this world, or by gnawing feelings of guilt. We can be right with God.
Christ told us to take His light to the world and in our finite wisdom we constantly attempt to build lamps. They may provide light but it's not His light. The bewildering mazes of religious laws are paths built by men. The feelings of guilt that inform us we have a consciousness of sin are themselves pinpricks and poundings delivered by God to prod us into the way, His way, the Highway. They don't mean we're lost forever. It's just the opposite. They mean God hasn't given up on us yet.
And if God hasn't given up on us, why should we give up on God?
Happiness can be affected by what we had for dinner last night. Did it taste good? Did it sit well, or did it give us indigestion? Happiness can be impacted by whether or not we're rich or poor, sick or healthy or any combination of things that are here today and gone tomorrow. Laughter can be a mask to hide the tears.
But joy is something else again. Joy is rooted in our relationship with God, and since the world didn't give it to us the world can't take it away. That's why it's called the joy that passes all understanding.
This God given joy is a powerful life changing thing.
Seeing this joy in action when I was an unbeliever is one of the things that eventually convinced me the Bible was true, salvation was real, and I could have it if I wanted it.
When I was at the depth of my unbelief, calling myself an atheist and a hater of all things godly I witnessed people live through the birth of a very special child. One whose physical challenges led to a short life among us but a life having a major impact on at least one life I know of: mine. His parents loved that child. They praised God for that child. They gave all they had to care for that child. And when that child passed leaving them physically, emotionally, and financially drained they held a celebration to praise God for blessing them in such a great way.
I can remember thinking they were crazy. I shook my head and wondered how anyone could be so different from everyone else I'd ever known. I didn't know it at the time but I was a witness to people living out the reality of a passage from the book of Job who was the greatest of all the people of the East.
After Job lost everything; his home, his children, and all his wealth, he was struck with painful boils from the sole of his feet to the crown of his head. While sitting amid the ashes of his life he took a broken piece of pottery to scrape off the scabs his wife said to him, "Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!" which is what the world was screaming at the two followers of Christ with their family disrupted, their finances destroyed, and their child dead. These born-again believers said with their actions to the world what Job replied to his wife, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?"
Years later as I reflected upon whether it was possible to live for God in a fallen world the memory of those two saints, Judy and Harry, praising God for blessings in the middle of what the fallen world saw as a curse I knew it was possible. Now after forty years of walking with my hand in the hand of the Man who stilled the sea, I know it from personal experience.
Choose God and accept His gift of salvation not for what we've done but because of what Jesus did. He paid the price for our lifetime membership in the family of God, but we still may have to pay some dues down here. If we trust in Him when the wind and the waves smash against us we'll stand like a house built on a rock. If we choose to give our lives to God in Jesus, we get them back again better and brighter than we could ever imagine. If we instead try to keep our lives for ourselves we lose everything, and when the wind and the waves smash against us we'll crumble like a house built upon the sand.
We never know who's watching. We never know what someone else may see. So let's quit tickling ourselves to death, find the joy of the Lord which is our strength and let the joy, joy, joy of the Lord down in our souls and watch our lives become the witness He's called us to be.
Thank you, Judy and Harry, for being two witnesses who helped change my life. I praise God for you both, and I love you with the love of the Lord.