It was 1969. I was standing watch on the deck of the USS Chicago. We were guarding the coast of South Viet Nam. It was a pitch black night except for the stars in the sky. At 2:30 in the morning, no one was around. My thoughts wandered back to my high school days, then grade school, then further back to when I was a young boy in a foster home. I tried to figure out why my sister and I were placed there. We had both of our parents. Why didn’t they want us? My next thought was “What is the purpose of my life?” Then I blurted out loud, “Who is this God or Creator that put me on this planet?”
My mom was only 19 or 20 when she had me. My dad was never around. I probably was only 3 or 4, but I remember being confined to the basement of the foster home my older sister and I were put in. Even at this young age I experienced rejection and lack of self-worth. I wanted so much to feel needed, wanted, and loved; like I belonged.
At 5 my sister and I were living with our Dad and step-mom. It seemed like my life was almost normal. Expect that this step-mom didn’t know how to give love and affection. She walked into a ready-made family that she was not ready for. I knew deep down that I was still missing out on unconditional love; the love that only parents will give their children just because. To make matters worse, my Dad’s behavior did not change. He was still never around.
All through school, I kept looking for love and acceptance. I thought having a girlfriend would help so I almost never was without one. I applied myself in sports hoping that would bring acceptance. It only helped for a while; I still felt empty.
After high school graduation I knew I would be drafted. I enlisted in the Navy to avoid the Army. That was when I got introduced to “Mary Jane” (marijuana). Smoking pot made me feel better about myself than ever before.
When my tour was up, I continued getting high. So were the hippies. I bought into their lifestyle of love and peace. I thought they held the answers to the questions I had about life, love, and belonging. After a year of living this life, I realized they didn’t. So then I thought getting married was the answer to filling the void I had in my life where love was supposed to fit.
She caught my eye at her job in my neighborhood drugstore. It took me a few days to get the courage up to ask her out, but I finally did. Karen said ok to a date. The day after our first date she moved in with me.
At 21, I thought I had life figured out. I learned a trade, had a live-in girlfriend, smoked all the dope I wanted, and got all the information I needed from the newspaper. I finally felt fulfilled and put my search for purpose on the shelf. Six months later we got married and bought a house. We were living the American dream.
Karen got a call from her best friend Ruth, who she knew since grade school. She wanted to move to Vegas and called to see if she could stay with us for a while. We said sure.
Ruth was like us; into smoking pot. Or so I thought. About two weeks later while hanging out, Ruth cried out “I can’t do this any longer. I have to go to church!” WHAT??!? She said she couldn’t live this lie. She told us she had given her life to Jesus Christ before she came to Vegas but kept up the pretense of being a doper because she didn’t know how we would react.
I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t understand why Ruth wouldn’t party with us any more just because of this Jesus in her life. For the next several days Ruth and I were at odds. I explained my philosophy of life and she came back with something she called Scriptures.
She countered every argument I came at her with something from the Bible. I was frustrated until she told me about this man Paul and how he wrote most of the New Testament while in jail. I couldn’t figure out how someone who followed Jesus could end up spending most of his life in jail. I never heard this before.
Without telling me, Ruth took Karen to church and she accepted Jesus, too. When I found out, I was even angrier. I told them I didn’t want to hear that they went to any of my friends to talk about this Jesus.
A few days later my best friend said, “Guess who came to my house last night”? I was angry when he told me Karen and Ruth stopped by to talk about Jesus. He laughed it off, but not me. As soon as I got home I was yelling and screaming. I warned them to leave me alone and that I was going to go to their church and tell everyone off.
Saturday, I bought a lot of Mary Jane planning to get as high as I could. I was going to stay up all night and plan on how to tear these people down. Ruth challenged me before going to bed. “Ask God if Jesus Christ is the only way to get to God”.
Even though I had been smoking pot all day and night, I couldn’t get high. Before I went to bed, I asked God if Jesus Christ is the only way to know Him. At that moment something moved in my heart. I no longer wanted revenge. I was at peace, more than ever before.
At church all eyes were on me. The girls told everyone of my plan. The preaching began but I didn’t hear a word. I was struggling with God. I couldn’t believe He could forgive me of all the bad things I ever did. I sat there the whole time going back and forth in my mind with God. At the end of the sermon they began to sing Just As I Am. During the song I clearly heard God say “You are forgiven of all your sins”. It was like a bolt of lightening hit me. I began to weep uncontrollably. The next thing I knew I was kneeling at the front of the church and asking Jesus into my life.
Galatians 2:20 says “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” I finally had answers to all my questions. I know why I’m on this planet. I have a fulfilling purpose, and a wonderful future to carry me into eternity. If you want your answers about your own purpose and future, please read with your heart the following simple prayer.