I never considered myself a wicked person. I’ve believed in God as the creator of the universe ever since I can remember. I even prayed when I went to bed. Yet when Bob Stewart, the man who helped me come to faith in Christ, asked me why I thought I was going to heaven I told him, “By keeping the Ten Commandments.” He asked me if I was obeying them and I had to tell him I wasn’t. So he asked me again, why I thought I was going to heaven. The second time I told him, “I’m going to heaven because I am an American.” At that, he chuckled and told me I had a lot to learn. When he told me that, I got angry with him and that ended our discussion. But his question got me wondering about my life after death.
Growing up I lived for pleasure. All I wanted was to have fun and I found it wherever I could. Sporting activities, games, events, being with my friends and anything that brought me enjoyment. As I got older I needed to earn money to pay for the things I wanted so I had many different kinds of jobs. During my teenage years I started smoking, drinking alcohol, gambling and viewing pornography. I never saw those things as evil or wicked because I found them gratifying. As I got older they became habits and I found ways to rationalize my lying, cheating and stealing so I could support them.
I was a poor student and eventually I was expelled from high school and joined the Navy. One of the many reasons I enjoyed the Navy so much was the discipline it brought into my life beginning in boot camp. I still had my bad habits, but so did a lot of my friends, so I was comfortable with them. What I didn’t realize was that these habits that were bringing me pleasure were also becoming addictions.
When I got married and we had our first child is when I really began to understand how the things I thought were simple pleasures had become destructive enemies of my family. When I tried to stop, I found the habits to be much more damaging than I had imagined and I was in bondage to them. I needed help and God was sending a man into my life who would eventually help me find freedom.
What I was learning through my experience was the reality that before the gospel becomes good news, I had to face the truth about my own depravity. The deeper I was sinking in the miry clay the more I realized my need to be rescued. What I didn’t understand was how strong my ego was in resisting my escape.
I was in a real battle.