Jesus is the only way

Saints4Jesus.com & Answers4saints.com

God Loves To Save The Most Despicable Kinds Of People 
   Home      John's Book
 Home 

 
This is an on-line book that I have been working on.  It is about a character named John Hudson who is a lot like the author, John Hunter.  Most of it is true life and some liberties have been taken for making the story a more interesting read.  It is my hope that you will find the life of this character both interesting and informative and maybe even instructive to your own life and struggles.

John

You can listen to christian and Piano Meditation

 

 

Chapter 1

I didn't know what I didn't know and I wasn't sure if I should even care.  I really don't have time for this and I really don't like opening up a can of worms in my own life.  I am busy and I don't need any further distractions to be added to my life.  As a self-employed business consultant, fairly successful i might add, I was on the proverbial road again. Another night away from home in another city that I would never see or really care to see for that matter.  I fly in, I do my job, I fly home, I write reports, and I follow up with my clients.  The work is almost always interesting since it involves problem solving of one sort or another.  I like dealing with other people's problems since I get paid very well for it. 

My own problems were not really that fun to deal with.  I am getting older and the old body is really beginning to feel the impact of 55 years of hard living.  It makes you sound old when you start detailing out the aches and pains and medicines you take but that seems to be a more frequent conversation these days with they guys I play golf with. Come to think of it, we are a bunch of old men or are approaching "old" pretty fast. 

I am married to a wonderful woman and have been for over thirty years. Our two sons are grown and gone and I am proud of them.  There are two grandsons now and they are an absolute hoot to play with.  They like grandpa because he plays with them and gives them way too much candy.  I get in trouble some times with their mom for this so I have to back off the candy now and then.  But, the little negotiators get right back to their previous candy level within a few days of my getting scolded.

Life has been very good to me and i have not got one real complaint.  I tell people, "if I died tomorrow I would have no regrets."  But that is where that nagging little problem of mine kept coming up.  I didn't know what I didn't know.  But I was beginning to care.  When you get to fifty-five, your impending doom begins to register on your mind like it never did before.  If I died tomorrow would I really have no regrets?  If I died tomorrow was there something I should have known today that would change everything about my tomorrow?  I didn't know and that bugged me.

Having been a Catholic for all my life, I knew there was a heaven.  I hoped to get there if I could only get to purgatory first.  I know a fair amount of punishment is in order so some purgatory time seems fair.  After all, I am not perfect but I have been pretty good comparatively speaking. I am not a huge sinner like a lot of other people I know.  So OK, I would do my time in purgatory and then things will get better for me.  Even while I am in purgatory, my family will be praying for me and will have masses said for me so that will probably shorten my sentence quite a bit.   After getting my release from purgatory, i would be floating around heaven for a very long time- eternity.  Although being like a ghost did not have great appeal, it certainly had more appeal than going to hell with the bad people.

I had followed the rules pretty much that Catholics are to follow.  I got to mass on Sunday (actually Saturday evening counted so we usually went then), i received the sacraments like penance (I confess - no pun intended- that i did not like the little confessional booths and the priest on the other side listening to me real off a few mortal sins and some venial sins).  And i received communion each week which we were taught was the actual body and blood of Jesus not just a wafer and some wine.  By the way, no other church can make that claim.  I had been baptized (sprinkled as an infant), and been confirmed at twelve and was married in the church by a priest.  Other than last rites and holy orders, that pretty much hit all the big sacraments i was aware of having to get.  The Catholic Church was very comfortable and all the rituals around the mass and special occasions just seemed so holy and reverent.  I couldn't really be missing anything- or could I? 

That is what was bugging me.There was something going on in my brain but it was not just in my brain.  It was deeper than that and it was bringing pressure to my chest and making my stomach hurt.  It wasn't any terrible pain mind you, just enough to bug me. There was something I needed to know and I did not know what that was and it would not leave me alone.  I had to get the answer- after all I am a pretty smart guy, a consultant after all, and figuring out what the problem was and offering several solutions is my expertise.  This could not be that difficult to solve and then i could get back to my work and my life. 

So i will just put my intellect to it.  I will go through my analytical processes and surely I will discover what it is I did not know but needed to know and I will start on it tomorrow.

 
Chapter 2

This had been a simple job at this company.  I had interviewed all the key players and spent some time going over some personnel issues and personnel files.  The issue was about a long term employee who was caught in the middle of a company change where the boss  (the company president) whom she had worked for forever was leaving and the new boss did not appreciate the skills she had or have the skills he thought she needed.  The woman was crushed that all this was happening as she was only a few years away from retiring.  Long story short, after studying the situation for a few days, I recommended that they offer her an early retirement and that they promote an administrative assistant who had all the skills and also spoke the native language of the new president (French, of course).  That suggestion was accepted and off I went to the airport to fly back home.

At home, a doctor's appointment was looming that i was a bit anxious about.  If my worst fears were confirmed, and i believed they would be, the urologist was about to tell me I had cancer and what the treatment options would be.  Any way i looked at it, I needed to get on with treatment for my condition as it was getting more painful physically and mentally.  This was something I wanted to know and wanted to deal with to solve this problem quickly.  My internet medical research already pretty much confirmed what i thought the diagnosis would be.

As an old college athlete and a Vietnam veteran, I am still pretty tough. Being an athlete and serving in the military teaches a person to be tough mentally and physically.  There have been very few things that have ever knocked me off my feet for long.  At this point in my life I was still feeling pretty much invulnerable- the man of steel with no trace of kryptonite anywhere near me.  There were a few wrinkles in the cape but in my mind I was still as powerful as a locomotive,  could still bend steel with my bare hands, was still faster than a speeding bullet, and could leap tall buildings in a single bound.  I always joked "The boys at the office call me Mr. Kent, but you can call me Clark."  But there was just a hint of a chink in the armor here and this was a bit unnerving.  I needed to know what I needed to know and I needed to get on with this.

Although i expected them, the doctors words still were like getting stuck in the gut with a dull sword.  They took control of my mind and my breathing for what seemed like several minutes.  "Mr. Hudson, we need to do surgery very soon and determine what we have here.  This may end up being non-cancerous and if so, it is still a good idea to remove it. However, if it is cancerous we will need to determine the type and extent of spread and that will dictate the course of surgical activity and the follow on treatment that might be needed."  When i got it together again, i asked "So, your initial opinion would be?".  He replied "it is most likely cancerous and i would like to get the surgery scheduled for this week."  

My analytical and intellectual faculties began to return as i headed to the car to let my wife know what was going on.  It was a call i did not look forward to making.  I don't want her worrying about me and I know that this news will be worrisome for her (and actually for me as well).  "Yes, he wants to do the surgery this week and i don't have anything going on the rest of this week or next so that works for me."  As i listened to stunned silence for a minute and then heard her voice, i knew this was not going to be easy.

I got back to my home office and sat down for a minute to think.  How do I deal with this? Well, let's start with the worst case scenario and then work down that scale to best case.  I laid that out on paper and it looked pretty good as far as scenarios, outcomes, strategies, and tactics were concerned.  I thought through all the things i needed to do and developed a philosophy of "prepare for the worst and expect the best".  So i began the review of wills, accounts, spread sheets of financial projections in case i wasn't around, etc and then Madeleine walked in.  She had left work early and she came into my office and the tears were flowing and she was overcome with sobbing.  She held me very tight and told me she loved me.  My attempts at humor did not work and so i thought i would show her my analysis work.  She said she just did not want to look at all that just now.

But she did ask a key question, "What if you die?" Now i had actually dealt with this in scenario one and it included everything i thought she would need if i was gone.  But this was not what she was interested in.  Madeleine is smart and she can take care of herself no matter what. She said "I am not worried about all this insurance, savings, projections stuff.  I want to know what happens to you if you die?" 

Ouch- this was the thing i did not know and suddenly i cared very much about knowing the answer.

 

Chapter 3

Surgery had come and gone without a hitch.  I was back home the same day and not feeling too worse for the wear. I drove myself to the next doctor's appointment a few days later and got the confirmation that I had testicular cancer and was being referred to an oncologist for follow up.  Oncology is an ominous word and although I knew what it meant, there was still a darkness and a foreboding about it.  The oncology doctor was OK and i had prepared a list of questions in advance to make sure I understood what was to happen next.  The big question got answered first "No, Mr. Hudson, you are not going to die anytime soon from this disease or from the treatment."  This seemed like the most positive news I had had in a while.  The rest of the news involved the treatment plan- it did not sound terribly fun but it was not that bad either.

The Arlington Cancer Center was an experience that really helped me to get a handle on how precious life is to each person.  I sat down in the waiting area and started talking to a woman who seemed comfortable and less self-absorbed than i was.  She told me she had been battling breast cancer for four years.  She came after work three days a week and was receiving a regimen of chemotherapy as well as radiation.  That had been her life for the last four years.  She was a wife, a mom, a full time employee, and a long term cancer patient with not such a bright prognosis.  They called her name and she wished me luck as she headed through the double doors to another treatment. As i looked around at the room full of other people and even some little kids; they all had cancer.  It was all I could do to keep just a few tears from turning me into one big sobbing mess.  I was quickly coming to the end of my thinking that I was still Superman. All of us were sick and some would die sooner than later.

I closed my eyes and began to ponder my death.  What will happen to me when I die?  I know for sure I don't want to be buried.  No caskets (I hate this word), no viewings of the body, no lowering the box into the ground with family and friends standing by.  Between Madeleine and me, we had just gone through this first with her mom several years ago, and then her dad, and then my mom followed within a year by my dad.  Nope- I have attended all the funerals I ever want to attend and I surely am not going to be the guest of honor at the next one. 

But that really is inconsequential when you think about it.  The Bible says God will resurrect everyone at the end of the Great Tribulation.  Yep.  I had been studying a Bible for the first time in my life.  As a Catholic, it was never required or even encouraged to read the Bible since we were taught it was very difficult for the "lay" person to understand. There were a couple of readings from the Bible during Mass and then the priest would usually talk for ten minutes or so.  Most of the homily's I heard were not all that good.  I don't think preaching is a big part of seminary training for priests.  The Mass was always the same- very serious, very ritualistic, and very comforting.  But i was not finding comfort in those things now as a still, quiet voice began to encourage me to "look for the truth."  That seemed funny to me as I recalled Pilate's words to Jesus "Truth.  What is truth?"

My wife had brought home a book a friend had lent her.  She was a Christian friend.  She gave her the hot selling fiction "Left Behind."  Since i had lots of time on my hands now I was really into reading.  I was not getting much out of the Bible reading.  I just seemed not to get it and could not focus on any of it for very long at a time.  This new book looked interesting and i read the blurb on the back cover. "In one cataclysmic moment, millions around the globe disappear.  Vehicles, suddenly unmanned, careen out of control.  People are terror stricken as loved ones vanish before their eyes.  In the midst of global chaos, airline captain Rayford Steele must search for his family, for answers, for truth.  As devastating as the disappearances have been, the darkest days may lie ahead."  What a screwy, far out story line.  Why in the world would a bunch of people just disappear?  I knew this was a Christian book and figured it was some deep "Bible Thumper" stuff.  But for some reason, i was both drawn to it and scared to death of it at the same time.

I was hooked from the first page of "Left Behind".  This guy was like me in some ways and I really wanted to see how this was going to unfold.  The end of the first chapter was "The terrifying truth was that he knew all too well.  Irene (his wife) had been right.  He, and most of his passengers had been left behind."   Left Behind from what was my last thought as i got called into the treatment room to get zapped again by the radiation.  I thought kind of like Captain Kirk of the Enterprise maybe this radiation thing would be like the transporter room and Scotty would beam me up. 

Or not.
 
 

Chapter 4

Back at home and just a bit nauseous from the radiation, i decided to get back into the "Left Behind" book. The Rapture?  I had heard about that somewhere before and had thought it was funny and spooky and fringe crazy thinking.  My church did not teach about Rapture but as i was to discover shortly, they had not taught about salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ either.  In "Left Behind" i heard the explanation made simply and clearly.  Those who were "saved" were caught up in the Rapture that had just happened in the first chapter.  As i read what it took to be saved, it hit me like an avalanche.  I knew immediately I was not saved nor was i going to some other place for some temporary punishment for my sins when I died.  I was going straight to hell even though as I said before "i am a relatively good person compared to a lot of people."  It struck like lightning in my heart- it does not matter how good a person you think you have been.  It does not matter if you have been a regular attender of your church.  The little bit of money I gave was not going to be enough to buy me any favor with God.  And the question that had been nagging at me and the question Madeleine asked me just got answered.  If I died tomorrow without Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I would have eternal regrets and an eternity to think about those regrets.

Oh my God!  This was what had been eating at my soul for a very long time.  This is what I had missed.  This was the problem I could not solve on my own.  No matter what I did or did not do, if I don't have Jesus as my savior I am doomed.  How in the world could such a smart guy miss such an easy question?  "What will happen to you when you die?' was what my wife had asked me.  I thought I knew but I was 100% wrong- totally and absolutely wrong.  I was not going to purgatory to be punished for a few sins and then on to heaven.  I was going to hell and there was nothing i could do personally about it.  I put my analytical mind back to work for a few minutes and tried to slow down the onslaught of emotions.  I began counseling myself-  wait- wait- wait.  This just can't be right.  This is not at all what i have been taught and if anyone should know about this it would be the Catholic Church.  So why did they not teach this if it is true?

But nothing had ever sounded so right, felt so right, deep down knowing it was right and it was true.  As i was going through my rational and intellectual approach to what I had discovered i was overwhelmed again.  It was not an emotional nudging, it was as if I were being called.  I could almost hear my name being whispered by a quiet, gentle, loving voice.  I don't know exactly what I was hearing but it sounded like "John, come  to me, trust me."  It was not an audible voice but it was so compelling.  I knew I had to make a decision.  There was something so powerful about this experience and it was as if I knew deep down that if I pass this by, it may never come again.

The next thing I knew I was on my knees.  Tears of confession and sorrow flowed and I said "Lord I am so sorry.  I've known about you my whole life but I've never really known you.  I am a sinner and i know I have sentenced myself to hell.  Would you have mercy on me?  Would you save me from that awful place?  I ask you to take over my life.  I give it up to you to use however you would use it.  I just did not know before what I needed to do to get to heaven- it seemed so complicated and I never thought I could know for sure whether I would make it or not.  Lord, thank you.  I know you are so near me just now and I want to be near you for the rest of my life."  I stayed there on my knees for awhile absolutely shaken from head to toe realizing that now truly "if I died tomorrow, I would have no regrets".  Now it was not just a macho intellectual thing- it was absolutely true.

Days and weeks went by and nothing really happened to me.  I felt a bit different than before but some of the same old habits were still there.  I had been an overachiever at drinking from my late teens and was quite good at it actually.  It was a wonderful habit and one i enjoyed immensely as part of who I was.  It was also a part of my life that was becoming a bit troublesome.  I thought about quitting many times and had cut back on and off but what the heck "a few drinks isn't going to hurt you is it?"  It even says in the Bible "take a little wine for the stomach."  I know scotch isn't wine but alcohol is alcohol and it must be OK if it is recommended like that in the Bible for heavens sake. That's it, I was just taking a little wine for the stomach.  Besides, with these radiation treatments going on and this dang cancer stuff, who could blame a guy for drinking.  It was good for pain and nausea and I wasn't hurting anybody. 

Whew!  That was a close one.  I had not had any big earthshaking things happen since the day on my knees.  I did not think anything was different about me.  Maybe I had just had some kind of "emotional experience" and now I could get back to my life.  Maybe it did not take or maybe Jesus had not really heard that I was sorry and wanted Him as Lord of my life.  After all, I had not needed Him before.  I mean, I was glad He was in heaven and all that and was glad He was watching over everything.  But, He was probably busy and just missed me.

I was wrong; so very, very wrong.


Chapter 5

Three months had passed by and i had finished my last radiation treatment. I had made my last visit to the cancer center and sat with a room full of cancer patients for the last time.  I had not thought much anymore about dying and I was not talking with anyone about my "experience" with Jesus. People would think I was nuts.  Time to get back to doing what I do; working, playing golf, drinking scotch, watching FoxNews.  Life was great again. 

I mean I like scotch, but I don't have to drink it.  After all, there is bourbon, beer, wine, or vodka.  I just prefer scotch- it is an acquired taste, very sophisticated and if you really know what you are doing, single malt is the only palatable scotch to drink neat.  I don't really have a problem like real alcoholics do.  I never lost a job or got a DUI or did anything totally stupid as a result of drinking.  I had decided to quit a few times when I went on a health kick.  It was no problem and so because it was no problem, I would start drinking again when my health kick ended (health kicks for me usually lasted around six weeks or so and then feeling really healthy I would go back to being me).

I got my golf game back to a low single digit handicap.  I guess the surgery did not affect me that much.  If I could only putt better I just knew I could be out there on the senior tour.  But as I told people, "I really don't want to make the senior tour.  Those guys have to work weekends!"  (That's a joke- if they are really good and making the big bucks, they love playing the weekends).  For now, I was quite content to just play Tuesday through Friday when I was in town.  I had a great group of guys to play with.  We had a blast playing against each other for a few dollars here and a few dollars there.  Nobody ever lost much or won much but occasionally someone would get the only skin for the day and rake in $40.  You would have thought they had just won the U S Open, a ten year tour exemption, and an endorsement from Nike.

I had not really thought a lot about the "experience" lately but there was something bugging me again.  We had started going to our Catholic Church on Saturday night and to my youngest son's Bible Church on Sunday mornings.  Our son had invited us to come since the church had a really neat new facility. The preacher at the Bible church was excellent.  Pastor Barry Cameron at Crossroads Christian Church- the guy could flat out preach. Sometimes I though he was a little over the top (like the time he preached an entire sermon on how bad alcohol was for you).  But the one thing he preached was the Bible.  Since I had begun reading it but still not understanding much, this was helpful to hear someone actually explain it. 

He had been talking about baptism that Sunday morning.  As a Catholic, my mom and dad got me baptized when I was six weeks old.  Obviously I have no memory of that but we had our boys baptized when they were only a few weeks old also.  According to our church, it removed original sin. That was great but I could not figure out how I could have committed any sins at age six weeks.  Pastor Barry was talking about a different baptism than I was familiar with.  He said the person being baptized needed to know what he was doing when he  was being baptized.  He needed to be old enough to understand he was making a public profession of faith in front of the congregation.  He also said the baptism of the Bible is done by immersion so that it perfectly pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord. 

What he said made sense.  I wondered why our church baptized differently. The student in me decided to find out more about how the Catholic Church and this Bible church differed.  So i started an internet search again.  I went to the Crossroads website (www.crossroadschristian.org) and read all the information there.  Then as I "Googled" other searches I came on a website that caught my attention.  It was called Proclaiming the Gospel and was at www.pro-gospel.org.  The editor of the website had been a Catholic for 37 years and had left the church.  I thought he probably got ticked off by all the pedophile priests or something and that's why he left.  But that was not it at all.  He had studied the Bible and compared what was being taught in the church to it.  The Bible and the Catholic Church did not agree on some very important issues.  I began reading and then bought one of his books "Preparing Catholics for Eternity".  I had no idea the Catholic Church had drifted so far from what the Bible teaches  on so many issues.  Not only had the church drifted, they had also concluded that the traditions of the church are equal in authority to the scriptures.  This needed to sink in for awhile.

During my studying and after listening to Barry, I had an overwhelming desire to be baptized just like he said the Bible says to do it.  Madeleine and I did our regular Saturday night thing and then went to Crossroads on Sunday.  There was the altar call at the end of the service.  I told Madeleine I wanted to go get baptized and she looked at me like I had just lost my mind. Then she seemed angry about something and so I just let it go for then.  It was a little quiet in the car going home that morning.  "What is this all about?" she asked when we got in.  I began to explain to her what had happened, my "experience", and now my study. I told her as much as I could remember about what I had found out in my reading and studying.  It suddenly struck me as I was telling her this, that I could not go back to the Catholic Church.  I blurted this out to her.  Have you ever had one of those moments when you thought perhaps the earth had stopped spinning on its axis and everything else in the universe had come to a complete stop?  This was it for me. 

She was hurt and she was angry.  "Are you telling me that for the last 55 years the church that both of us have grown up in and were married in and had our children baptized in is the wrong church for you?  Who do you think you are?  You are no theologian.  You don't even know all the teachings of the Catholic Church.  It is the only true church.  Jesus himself put Peter as its first Pope and that has been an unbroken line of Popes from the beginning.  It is the only church that has the Eucharist- only an ordained Catholic priest can cause the bread and wine to turn into the real body and blood of Jesus.  Only in the Catholic Church do you have Mary the Mother of God to pray to so her son Jesus will take care of us.  Only in the Catholic Church.................." And our entire Catholic education continued to flow from her mouth.  Madeleine has a memory not yet exceeded by any computer chip ever invented.

When she took a breath and oxygen levels in the room returned to normal and the earth began to rotate again and the universe resumed expanding, I tried to explain what I was having a hard time understanding myself.  Where was Jesus when I needed Him? If judgment is anything like I had just experienced, I was hoping maybe I could be absent that day.  Coming to a knowledge of the truth which contradicts everything you knew or believed before is a brutally punishing, gut wrenching,awful, sickening, scorching, painful, must I go on experience.  It occurred to me at that moment that indeed Jesus had heard me and had taken my confession and my asking of Him to be Lord of my life very seriously.  Something different was happening here and it was out of my control totally. 

Jesus had just taken over.


Chapter 6

It is a little late to worry about whether you packed your parachute properly after you have jumped from the plane.  There is an old joke that says "If your motto is if at first you don't succeed, skydiving probably just isn't for you."  The other one is don't buy a parachute from the want ads that says "Parachute for sale, only used once, slightly stained, $100 or best offer."  It was a little late to spend too much more time on parachutes at this point.  I had literally made a leap of faith in front of God and my wife.  At some point in your life there comes the most important choice you ever will make and the most important consequence you will ever experience.  I believed with all my mind, heart, and soul that the choice I had just made was that "most important" one.  However, the initial consequences were not what I had expected.

Having some time to think about it, my announcement to Madeleine was devastating to her.  She was right, I had just told her that not only had we been wrong about the church, but that our parents had also been wrong, her sister was wrong, my brother and sisters were wrong, and we had in effect raised our kids wrong.  The sense of this was like a huge weight that was crushing me. Could I be wrong about this whole thing and am I causing us a bunch of pain that is not necessary?  Why was this happening like this and was there any way to go back to just going along with everything the Catholic Church taught just as I had always done?  Now that I had been "saved" could I still be a Catholic and still be the same old guy I was before.  At least that was not nearly so painful as this. 

Now being more of a Bible reader I decided to see if there was anything there that would tell me what was going on.  I figured there must be something in the gospels that would help.  As I was turning pages and scanning the words in red (if there was anything to say, Jesus must have said it so the red words drove my scanning) I came to Luke 9:23-26 and read "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.  What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?  If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."

What in the world did all that mean?  "Deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow me."  Was i supposed to deny who I was or what I was and if so why?  I thought Jesus was the cross bearer and He died for me on that cross so what cross was I supposed to take up?  Follow me made sense I guess.  Jesus lived a good life and was certainly a good example to follow. So of those three things Jesus said, I thought I understood the last one best.  And again just as before, I was wrong.  My intellectual side kicked back in and I began the analysis phase of those words. 

"Deny yourself."  Maybe that means you just have to sometimes give up some of the stuff you want.  Deny means to withhold something or disallow something. Yeah, I get that.  It is like self-discipline maybe.  So Jesus wants me to be a little more self-disciplined.  He wants me to disallow some things in my life and maybe to withhold some things from myself that I could have but that I give up sort of like being sacrificial toward those things.  That seemed to be a good explanation for deny yourself- intellectually.  That did not seem to hard and I was already a pretty disciplined person so this one is no big deal.  Right?

"Take up your cross daily".  Maybe it means I am supposed to suffer a little every day.  Maybe it meant I should be more humble since Christ took up His cross that time and it was humiliating but since He was so humble He did it anyway.  So maybe that was the meaning here.  Just be a little more humble.  OK.  I can do that.  I know I am a little arrogant at times so this is a good thing that He is saying here.  Don't be so arrogant.  Maybe I could drop a little of the pride I felt as well.  Those would be good things for sure.  Right?

"Follow Me".  Well sure.  I can just try a little harder to model my life to meet more of what Jesus wants me to do.  I know I commit mortal sins and venial sins according to the Catholic doctrine on sin.  And I know that those sins, if not confessed to a priest in the sacrament of penance were for sure going to send me to hell.  So, maybe I could just not sin as much and go to confession more than once a year and that would make a big difference to Jesus.  Right?

I thought I had it figured out but the more I thought about it, the less comfortable I was with my own explanations.  I was missing something big and wasn't sure what it was.

And the Holy Spirit began to move.


Chapter 7

We had begun attending the bible church on Wednesday nights.  The issue about baptism had cooled down enough and I had told Madeleine I was going to walk the aisle that night and be baptized.  The preaching came to an end and the pastor invited people to come forward.  This was the big moment.  To my complete surprise, astonishment, and total shock, Madeleine stood up with me to go get baptized.  What in the world was going on here?  We walked to the front together and told the pastor we wanted to be baptized and then we were ushered up to the changing rooms. 

I went first.  The pastor said “This is John Hudson who has come tonight to profess his faith in Christ and be baptized.  John, do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He was virgin-born, died on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins, was buried and three days later arose from the dead and has now ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven?  And is He, Jesus Christ, your personal Lord and Savior?”  I answered “absolutely” and he dunked me.  Then I got to watch Madeleine be baptized.  I can’t tell you how much that meant to me (not to say what it meant for her).  She and I had both just been obedient to the Lord in water baptism and I knew a feeling of peace that I have never experienced in my life.  I knew we were both saved and we were both going to heaven together and for an eternity.

The Holy Spirit was at work.  The next Saturday night, Madeleine made no move to go back to the Catholic Church at the 5:30 mass.  Sunday morning, she made no comment about going to mass and going to our bible church-  we just went to our bible church.  I was afraid to ask what this even meant but I knew she had made a statement.  She had always been the true spiritual head of the house and she had just passed that responsibility back to me where it should have been all along.  It was an overwhelming realization and one I would take very seriously.  We never really spoke much about going back to the Catholic Church after that- we just did not go back.

Several weeks passed and we were going to church on Wednesdays and Sundays regularly now, listening to the preaching.  I was reading my Bible more and Madeleine had also started reading hers.  She was so much farther along than I was since she would listen to Charles Stanley and Jack Graham on her way to work each morning.  She had also started getting up an hour earlier and reading her Bible.  Things were happening.  One night before bed I dropped down on my knees by the bed to pray.  This was not like me.  I used to pray occasionally but to myself and while I was laying in bed sort of listening to the news at the same time.  To my surprise, she came and knelt next to me and we prayed quietly and I thanked God for His patience with me.  I thanked Him for His mercy rather than the justice I deserved.  Praying together soon became a habit and it was a wonderful thing to be kneeling together hip to hip and sometimes my arm around her and just praying to the God I was just now getting to know.  I thank Him every night for the wonderful Godly woman He put in my life to be my wife and mother of our sons. 

I shot 73 that day; missed a few birdie putts but played overall pretty well.  I was pretty happy about that.  I had won three dollars to boot.  Being in just a great mood, I got home around 4p, turned on Fox News, and was about to go get my usual glass of scotch.  As I started to get up, I needed to sit back down.  “You cannot do that anymore.  It is not who you are now.”  I know I did not hear a voice but I did get that instruction.  It was not audible but it was powerful and I knew in my heart that it was an instruction of the Holy Spirit.  It was not a suggestion.  It was not a “won’t you consider cutting back on the booze”.  It was a very clear and compelling instruction.  It was a relief to me.  I knew now I was not going to drink again and I certainly was not going to die as an alcoholic.  I could not help but just sit back for a moment and soak it in.  My life was changing and it was not my doing of my own will.  I dropped to my knees and said “Thank you Lord for taking this away from me. It has always been such a struggle and I had no power to stop it.  But you through the Holy Spirit just said it and it was done, over, no more struggle with alcohol for me.  Thank you Thank you Thank you.” 

And that was just the beginning.


Chapter 8

Life continued to change for me and for my wife.  We became involved with serving in the church and attending Bible studies.  I had a very strong desire to read and study the bible.  A few years later, I got certified to teach Bible studies at our church and just loved it.  Being retired, I had all kinds of time on my hands that could be filled any way I wanted to fill it.  I wanted to fill it with learning God’s word and sharing the learning with others.

Our marriage got better.  It was great before but now it was really great.  We were totally on the same page with our faith.  Every night we dropped down on our knees and prayed together and every morning we hit our knees and thanked God for another day.  It was totally wonderful and years began to roll by seemingly quicker and quicker until that day.
You never expect to die really.  You know it is a coming reality.  I had been to many funerals before and seen my mom and dad and others.  Some were for young people and some were older but they all seemed so surreal.  It just seems like something that won’t really happen to you.  I am so glad I was ready when that day came and it was so sudden and so painless and I was so thankful.

Madeleine and I were workers and savers all out lives.  We had done well with investments and I believed she would outlive me by many years just based on our genetics.  We had planned for that.  The house had been paid off years ago and our living expenses were really low.  We were not big vacationers and never really liked going out for dinner all that much.  We were never into cars or pools or new houses or expensive clothes.  We just spent what we had to on the basics.  We were always blessed by that because it meant that we had money that we could use to help her sister, helping our sons get started, and even putting away some money for grandchildren.  But we lived very comfortably and never felt like we were missing out on anything.

The approach shot to number 16 hole of the Oak Golf Course is pretty tough.  Over water 160 yards to carry it, is pretty tough for us old guys.  I was using my new nine wood utility club I got for fathers day.  It was one of those magical shots when you just knew from the click of the ball on the club and feeling in your hands that you had struck the shot perfectly.  As I watched it soar into that beautiful blue sky right at the hole, it happened.  I was thinking birdie when I had had an aneurism and was dead before I hit the ground.

 It was so beautiful really.  One second I am watching that shot and the next moment it was just as the Bible had taught me- absent from the body, present with the Lord.

Before I died, I had written my eulogy.  I knew what I wanted to say to the people I loved and to my friends who would join me later.  I had also made arrangement for my body to be cared for.  It was my wish that my body be harvested for any parts that could be used for helping someone else and after that to be cremated.  My only silly request was that my ashes be dumped out by the big oak tree behind the house so I could watch the golfers go by.  Silly, silly, silly but a fun thought anyway.

I had had the greatest life anyone could ever have.  I had been saved by grace through faith in Jesus.  I experienced the best of God’s blessings on this earth.  He had given me the perfect help mate as my wife, two wonderful sons, grandchildren, a great country to live in, and enough work and money to live a wonderful life. He had given me a wonderful church to be part of and the love and fellowship of so many believers.  There is not a thing more I could have ever asked for or wanted, except maybe one thing.  That one thing would be to have reached more people for Christ before I died. 

May God bless you and keep you and I pray that I will see you all some day where we will serve Christ together for an eternity to come.



 
 
 

 The belief that does not save is the belief that does not change the person who believes. Jesus said that if you believe in Him, you would be changed