A Religious Upbringing
I was raised in a God-fearing home in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia but my parents were not Christians at that time. We believed in God and we were taught to respect Him and to be conscious of Him. From my earliest days, I understood there would always be consequences for my bad deeds; therefore I was aware of my sin even if I was able to hide them from family and friends. We were faithful attenders to church services and went to confession regularly. I probably told more lies in the confessional than outside, but regrettably, there was a sense of relief when it was over.
Consciousness of God and Sin
During my childhood I had bouts of soul searching. I felt the burden of my sin with no way of relief. I was far from being a good little boy. I was the youngest of three boys in a family of nine. Rather than leave me alone with my brothers, my parents found it necessary to always take me with them to reduce the conflict with my siblings.
As a young teen, I recall having dealings with God and not being able to sleep. I knew that if I died through the night I was not ready to meet God. Filled with this anxiousness, I would always promise God I would change my ways the very next day. The graciousness of God to allow me to make deals I could not keep, and promises of a “better boy” I could never deliver! God kept His word, but I sure didn’t keep mine.
As bad as I was, I still thought I was better than others. I remember watching other students graduate and go off to university. When they tried drugs, I would say, “I’ll never do that!” Oh, I sure didn’t know my heart.
After squeaking through high school I went off to college. College days were very careless and frivolous days. I lived the ‘party life’ as much as I could. I gave little or no thought to my soul. In fact, I put myself in situations where I didn’t care if I lived or died.
Following tech school, I either couldn’t find work or didn’t want to work. Most likely no one wanted to hire me. So I left Cape Breton to hitch-hike across Canada. Hitch-hiking was a popular trend in the early seventies. My financial resources brought me as far as Medicine Hat, Alberta.
Working for a Mormon Farmer
A friendly farmer, who picked me up in Medicine Hat, asked if I wanted to work. With only $20 in my pocket, I gladly accepted the offer. He happened to be a Mormon, although not a very religious one. The farmer’s son asked me if it would be okay if he sent two ‘elders’ from the local Mormon Church to visit me. Knowing nothing about their unChristian beliefs I said, “Sure.”
Those two young ‘elders’ spent an entire evening trying to influence and convince me that I should come to their services and join the Mormon Church. Thankfully I had no interest in their sincere appeal. Once again, in hindsight, I can only thank God for His preservation. Maybe one of the reasons I did not take to their ways was the lifestyle of the farmer himself. Although I was accustomed to swearing, that farmer could have won a prize for the cursing and swearing he freely expressed on a regular basis.
Back Home to Find Work
When I arrived back home in Cape Breton from my excursion, I was more prepared to settle down and find work. A relative kindly suggested I apply to the Federal Government for a surveying position that was open. Although I had limited experience I decided to apply and to my surprise, I got the job. Later I found out I was the only one who applied. That was in the spring of 1975.
One year later there was surveying work available in Louisburg, Cape Breton, but it was a two-hour drive from where I lived. Knowing I could not continue to commute daily, I began to inquire about lodging options. My boss, who spent a fair amount of time at the local tavern asked about boarding houses in the area. A local man thought there might be room in the home where he was boarding. He came back with this proposition but he said the people were ‘holy rollers’. My boss said to me: “You will not likely want to stay there.” Not knowing much about ‘holy rollers’ and out of respect for my boss, I turned down the offer and continued the daily commute from Margaree to Louisburg. Four hours on the road each day continued for about a week until one night on my way home, I had three flat tires. I had to make alternate plans.
Emptiness at the Pub
The next day I asked my boss if he could inquire if that room was still available. After work that evening, I stopped in to confirm its availability. I didn’t stay there that night because I had made prior arrangements to go to a pub with a college friend. I recall vividly that evening looking in the mirror and asking myself the question – does everyone in the pub tonight, although jovial and outwardly happy, have the same emptiness I have? There was a void in my soul that needed to be filled, but with what I did not know.
The Boarding House Surprises
The next evening after work, I had my first meal at the boarding house. I was somewhat surprised when the older gentleman gave thanks to God for the food – something I was unfamiliar with. Following supper, their teenage son gave me a tour of the boarding house. The family also operated a funeral home business.
It was all very interesting. While we were touring the different facilities on their property, the son told me he was a Christian. I was surprised that he would mention such a thing to me. I would have been far more interested in the locations of the local taverns and pubs. He told me the reason why he was a Christian; it was because Jesus Christ suffered for his sins and he was sure of heaven. It was the first time in my memory that I heard anyone say they were sure of heaven.
My First Bible
To counter the teenager’s comments, I told him of my religious upbringing but that I certainly was not sure I would be in heaven. I became very interested in this assurance of heaven. That evening I was given a Gideon Bible with some verses underlined. I went to my room with the New Testament, thinking deeply about what I had heard and the possibility that I could be sure of heaven.
Dealings with God
As I lay on my bed with a Bible in my hands for the first time, I began reading and pondering what I had been told. As I read and tried to pray that night, I sensed that God was telling me that He sent His Son to be my Saviour – that Jesus died and suffered for my sins on the cross and now – what was I going to do about it?
Saved for Eternity
God had quickly brought me to the point in my experience where I had to make a decision: would I accept what He had provided for me to have my sins forgiven or would I go on as if I had never heard it? There was no question in my mind as to what I was going to do; I was going to accept this provision for myself. And I did and that very night I was saved. The truth of Jesus’ invitation recorded in this Bible verse filled my soul:
Come unto Me
all who labour and are heavy laden
and I will give you rest.
Life Since 1976
Since 1976 I have enjoyed the peace of sins forgiven and the assurance of Heaven. Yes, since 1976 I have enjoyed the fulfillment and reality of a personal relationship with God through Christ Jesus my Saviour and Lord. I have meaning and purpose in my life as a Christian. In 1981, I married Lorna Stewart of Amherst, NS and we have also had the joy of seeing our children (Renette, Emma Joy, Ciela, Amos and Anne Charlotte) trust Christ as their personal Saviour. Yes, we are now grandparents and we can tell you that God is incredibly good and we are enjoying our personal and inseparable and eternal relationship with Christ.
When the storm waves of life come my way, as they invariably cross all our paths from time to time, I am so glad to be securely anchored in Christ. Because of Christ, my future and eternity are bright. What I have in Christ, I can never lose. And what I have is freely available to you too. Just one evening alone with my new Bible, and with God, changed my life and my eternal destiny. Christ is available to you just as quickly and as simply as He was available to me. What will you do with Christ today?