Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member
Do you remember the story of the people of Israel crossing over the Jordan River from the book of Joshua 4? Just to recap it, Joshua chose 12 people, one from each tribe of Israel and told them to pick up a boulder and set it in the river. From the stones, they built a monument. He told the people many years later, when your children ask you about it, you are to tell them that it is in remembrance that the Lord kept His promises and brought us into the land of promise. Sometimes it is good to look back over our lives. Maybe that’s more for a person my age than yours. But the reason for this is to remember God’s faithfulness. So, just to take a bit of a different direction today, I would like to tell you a little of my story.
In September of 1970, I left the state of New York and drove my little Chevrolet to the small town of Alamosa, Colorado. I was 23 years old and was about to start college after having served my military duty. I was not a Christian at that time and up to that point, I had lived pretty much for myself. But in the back of my mind, I always had the notion that God was real and we should live to please him. But having that on your mind and actually living it out in the real world are two different things.
Anyway, soon after I entered college, I met this guy named John. He was a Christian and would speak up during class time and quote or defend the Bible. I had never read the Bible but I was impressed with his courage to stand up for his beliefs, even when the rest of the class would laugh or roll their eyes at him. John had a love for coffee but had no car. I had both, so we would drive three miles out of town about 10 PM to a place called the Navaho Truck Stop (the only place open at that time in Alamosa). We would sit for two or three hours and just talk. Mostly about Jesus and the Bible. Slowly, I became more interested and tried to understand what John was saying.
Fast forward to March of 1971. I drove back to Kansas with my roommate who was not returning for the next semester. I spent time with his family and really enjoyed them. Not having much of a family life of my own, they were everything my family was not. While there, I remember having a lot of excitement to get back to college. Not to start the next semester, but I had these strange thoughts that something was going to happen to me regarding God. I was totally weirded out by these thoughts. When I started on the long trip back to college the thoughts just kept getting stronger. Not having any knowledge of what it meant to become a Christian, I found all this a bit exciting and disturbing at the same time.
I got back to college on that Sunday evening, and in a short time, I heard a knock on my dorm room door. I wasn’t too surprised to see my friend John there asking if I wanted to come to a meeting of some Christians that Thursday night. He said he would pick me up and take me to the meeting room. The night came and John was there to take me to the meeting.
So, here we were, April 1, 1971, in a small room with a table and some of the “leaders” of the group came in for a time of prayer. They started to pray and I must admit, I believe it was the first time I had ever heard people pray like that. The only time I can really remember praying my own prayer was when I was in a small chapel on an air force base in Washington. I was 18, just about to graduate high school and scared to death of what was next. I remember standing in the chapel saying something like, “God if you are real, please show me how to reach you.”
There was a student from outside the group who spoke at the meeting that night. I listened to his talk and then after the meeting I went up to him and asked if we could talk. This was totally out of character for me, but I couldn’t stop myself. We got off by ourselves and talked a bit. That is, I talked and he listened. I told him about my messed-up life and what had been going on for the past several months to bring me to this point. All I remember him saying is, “Jesus Christ is the answer to all your problems.” Those words have stuck with me for 46 years now. Rich ended up leading me to the Lord that night. I had no idea what this would mean, but one thing I did know, is that I was a changed person. It was not really an emotional experience that night, but just an assurance that something within me had changed! As it turns out, Jesus Christ, in the person of the Holy Spirit had taken up residence within me. It would be many years before I really grasped that. As I think back over my life, this fact of Jesus living within me encourages me to keep going ahead, even though there are times when I feel like giving up.
So, April 1, 1971 became a stone of remembrance for me. The strange car ride back from Kansas, hearing people pray for the first time and hearing that Jesus Christ was the answer to all my problems are as fresh in my mind as when they happened. One thing, none of this was because of me. I was just a burned out 23-year-old who was already tired of life. It was, and is, all Jesus.
What about you? Do you have any stones of remembrance? I have had one or two more such experiences that are stones of remembrance during my life as a believer. But that night in April was the first. I can truly say that Jesus Christ has never let me down. Has my life turned out the way I thought it would? Not in the least! There have been truly dark, hurtful, and fearful times where I totally wanted to just go home to be with the Lord. But there have also been times where I know He was totally with me and would never leave me. All I can say is how grateful and thankful I am to Him for pulling me out of the pits into His glorious life and never giving me up. As the song goes, “Our God is an Awesome God!!” Truer words were never spoken.