In 1967 I was fresh out of the Army Security Agency and well into my three years of living in rebellion. My life was full of drugs and the hippy lifestyle. I knew I belonged to Jesus, but I had deliberately chosen to rebel because I was disillusioned and disappointed with the church. I was living in Amarillo, Texas with my wife, best friend JD, and his wife. The four of us were heavy drug users.
One day JD and I were on our way to Mexico to score a load of grass. We made sure we were straight and clean. No drugs for the day. There was another man in the car with us, but to this day I do not remember who he was, why he was with us, or where he went when we got to Mexico. I was driving our red Volkswagen Bug, with JD next to me and the other guy in the back seat. To pass the time we told stories. It was my turn and JD asked me, “Paul, why don’t you tell us some more of those wild stories about the end of the world”? So I began, “JD, you must understand that the Book of Revelation is written about the man, the Lord Jesus Christ.” As soon as I said those words, I was no longer in the car. I found myself standing before the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, right before His throne. I was directly facing Him, only a few feet away. Jesus looked into my eyes and asked, “Paul, who is running your life?” I shot up my hand like a third grader and answered, “I am.” When I tell you that you cannot lie to Jesus in heaven, that statement falls short. Telling of anything in heaven seems to fall short of the reality that is there. You don’t tell lies because the concept is not there. My answer was not bold or brave, just fact. I was running my own life. Jesus, still looking into my eyes, then asked, “Are you happy?” My heart broke. I mean, I knew I was miserable. Jesus did not waste any time and made this statement to me. “Paul, I want your life.” I was completely undone. I was unmade. I did not die or anything like that, but I was just undone as a human. Looking into Jesus’ eyes I answered Him with, “Jesus, you can have my life on four conditions. One, I do not know what is right and wrong. Two, You do. Three, I will not change anything I am doing. Four, You tell me and I will change.”
Bang, I am back in the car and JD is screaming, “Paul, where did you go? Where have you been?” I quickly pulled the car over to the side of the road and told the two of them, “JD, I have just been to heaven with Jesus. And you are a sinner on your way to hell. The wages of sin is death, but God has given us life in Jesus Christ.” I went on to present what we Baptists called the Roman’s Road to Salvation. JD and the guy in the back both prayed the sinner’s prayer and off we went to score our drugs.
I had a deal in Mexico with a farmer and buying the drugs was as easy as driving to his house and driving back across the border. As we were going through U.S. Customs, for some reason they gave us a really hard time. This had never happened before. They finally let us go after a very thorough search of us and the car. As I was driving over the bridge to the U.S., I knew that I knew Jesus was not happy with what I had just done. So,I said to Jesus, “Well, I guess this is the first thing you want me to change. I will never do this again”.
AND I HAVEN’T.
To be continued: