God Changed Me

This is a true story. The names haven’t even been changed. It is a story about how Jesus became my best friend.
I was twenty-five, had a wife and two kids, and had really seen just about all life and God had to offer, or so I thought. Although I had been raised a Christian, I had abandoned God and the Church and had given sin and self-interest full control of my life.
In May of 1975, my wife Jackie had had enough and left to stay with her mother. A week or so passed before my heart and the pile of undone dishes started telling me I really needed her back. After work Saturday night, I called to see if she would meet me to work things out. Her mother, Edna, said that Jackie was not home and had gone out with someone on a date. I was stunned. Were things really that bad? I drove the 25 miles to town hoping to see her when she got home from her date. My head and my heart were reeling from the knowledge that mywife was out with another man. Waiting was driving me crazy and I decided to go find her before something happened with the other guy. She had gone to a popular nightclub and as I pulled into the parking lot she was coming out with him. I was too confused and emotional to get out of the car but just watched as they left. They had not seen me arrive so I followed them expecting them to go to her Mom’s place. I was devastated when they led me to his apartment and went in together. I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. I parked, and went into a tavern a block from his apartment to wait. I had never felt such grief and rejection. My wife was with a stranger.
Eventually I returned to her Mom’s place and waited in the car. What could I say? What would she say? I loved her! How could she do this to me? Could I forgive her? Would she forgive me? All I wanted was to have my family back together. It seemed like an eternity waiting for her to come home. Finally she was back ... he left, and I persuade her to get into my car. We talked as I drove. I pleaded ... promised ... and even begged. She could not be swayed. “It’s over between us. I’ve filed for a divorce. You11 be served papers on Monday,” she told me. “I’m never coming back to you.”
After two hours, I knew all hope was gone. I had lost my family, the only thing in this life that really meant anything to me. As I returned home, one desperate thought after another hammered in my mind. “What can I do now?” “I have nothing to live for ... I hate my life ... and I want to die. “I hate you,” I screamed at myself. “I’m going to kill you.”
I was on an especially dark country road, about three miles from home. The road turned at the precipice of the Snake River Canyon. I drove with my elbows on the steering wheel so I could dig my nails into my face. My eyes blurred with tears. I’d made up my mind ... “I’m going to drive into the canyon, pedal-to-the metal, like Evil Kinevil.” Then a verse I’d memorized as a child came into my mind, “ ... the valley of the shadow of death”. “Finish that verse!” I heard a voice say. A voice in my head ... or was it? “I will fear no evil for Thou art with me,” I spontaneously responded. “Oh, no you don’t!” I answered myself. “You’re not talking yourself out of this”. I heard the voice again ... “Yes, tonight you will take your life. Why don’t you give it to me instead?’’ “Oh yeah,” I sneered, “I tried that once and look what it’s brought me to!” “Yes,” He said,” but you never gave me everything and what you did give me you took back a little at a time until I had nothing. Why don’t you give me everything this time and I will make a difference?”
With eyes still full of tears, I saw this vision: A garbage can sat on the edge of the canyon, empty blackness beyond. I saw myself, arms full of trash, angrily approaching to discard the refuse of my life. And standing next to the can ... Jesus ... nail-scarred hands outstretched ... pleading, ‘Why don’t you give it to me instead?”
My heart was breaking inside. I really didwant to die. I hated myself and all that my ugly life had become. “But here’s Jesus, and He wants my trash?” I considered for a moment. .. “What have I got to loose?” Then, from my breaking heart I said, “Yes, Lord. I will give you everything this time.”
My remorse, self-loathing and sorrow instantly turned to joy. Joy unspeakable and full of glory(1Peter1:8). “How can this be?” I asked myself, “How can it be???” “How can I be so happy when I’ve lost everything I love?” I continued on home with new unexplainable joy filling my heart. “When I get there,” I thought to myself, “I want to find that verse. Psalm 23 ... the one that’s changed my life ... the reason I’m still alive.” “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me ... “I had given Him everything and He gave me Joy ... Unspeakable Joy. “Why?” I asked myself again. As I opened the dusty Bible I’d set aside so many years before it came to Psalm 32. I had this impulsive thought as I looked down. “If the Lord is God, then let the first thing I read be His words to me.” The Bible had opened without flipping a page to Psalm 32. Every word applied to me.

PSALM 32:1-5, 8

1 Blessed (or happy) is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
3 When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.
4 For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. (Think about that).
5 I acknowledged my sin unto Thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.
Yes, He had somehow, miraculously caused my Bible to open to these words and now I knew God would guide me. How miraculous that He spoke to me, that He was waiting for me in the “valley of the shadow of death”, and most of all ... that He wanted me.
It might be enough to finish the story here but I just have to share what happened next. You know? “If the LORD is God ... “ Well I wanted to be really convinced and ! honestly digr(t W!rit to g_o_ e>n_ if thi~. had all l:>een some “mindgame”. By now it was about 3 AM and I just felt like He wanted me to go to my old church in the morning and tell my story. Well ... what do you think I did? I challenged Him, that if this was all real and He wanted me to go to church, I would need to be up by 8 AM. I said to Him, “I’m not going to set the alarm and if you can’t wake me up in time, 111 go back and finish what I started tonight. I really don’t want to go on if this wasn’t of you”.
What a peaceful nights’ rest ... When I awoke, my first thought was, “Gee, I feel wonderful...” then I remembered my death threat. “Umm, what time is it?” Oh, Wow! Exactly 8 AM. The minute hand was still between the one and the two. You know! The ones at the top?
That night, God changed me. Not completely, because that’s a process called life. He gave me a new direction and, best of all, a new friend. I have never for a moment regretted giving Him everything. Neither will you.
Your Friend in Christ
Mike Martin