Who do you want to rule your life?
In elections around the world, some candidates are liars. Some are known crooks. Others are known killers. Others make promises they will surely break.
If any of these ones really rule your heart and life, you will become like them!
Maybe you choose to rule your own life. In this case you will remain the same, as a sinner. Just as all the politicians are imperfect sinners, so is each person ruling their own lives.
There is, however, a better choice. The Creator of the heavens and earth has made it possible for you to be part of His kingdom, with The King of Kings ruling your heart and life.
Jesus stands at the door of a sinner’s heart and knocks. If you hear His voice, and open the door, He promises to come in, giving you eternal life, a clean heart, forgiveness of sins, and a relationship of son or daughter to your Heavenly Father.
My experience of ruling my own life up until age 23 almost got me killed, and to hell. I recall as a senior in high school drinking and driving a motorcycle, with a basketball teammate on the back punching my ribs, trying to get me to slow down. I recall college basketball teammates packed in my Chevy Camaro, on icy winter roads as I drove down a steep hill – they shouted out “we’re going to die!”
I recall my lifestyle in Europe playing basketball there 3 years – as the old saying goes “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die”. I had good German friends and teammates on my Munich team, as well as American friends on an Army base. I even enjoyed coaching American teenagers on that large military base. My reputation was good, but my lifestyle was wild, including fights outside a bar, and even in a department store where locals were messing with me and my friends. Easily I could have been caught and put in jail.
My wake up call came when one of my 15 year old players I coached died suddenly one night. On his night table next to his bed, was a book, I had never read, The Bible. His Dad a Christian told me his son, John read every night before going to sleep. His Dad had peace and assurance that his son awoke n Heaven. I had no assurance about my own soul, but began to think about it.
Fast forward another year, and I had returned to the states to go back to college. My new basketball team had an away game, and in the hotel room, during a team meeting, was a Gideons Bible on the table. I joked to coach and my teammates that maybe we should read this book. Only one player was a Christian, but to my surprise nobody laughed at my joking sarcasm.
The next season the 6’8” Christian player moved away. But before he moved, his lifestyle spoke to me. God was ruling his heart. I was ruling my life. We were friends. He was a new Christian. I tried to get him to party and drink – he tried to turn me to Christ. He had peace with God. I did not.
So, the following year I began searching for truth. I was interested to know what happens when we die. The “eat, drink, and be merry” lifestyle continued, but the “tomorrow we die” part became perplexing to me. My basketball game pics were in the newspaper. I had a “cool reputation” and was having fun, but I began to realize that one day I would die, and then what?
It was during Christmas break, I drove to NJ to visit my parents. I noticed my Aunt’s Bible, and remarked to my parents that we ought to read this book, and see what it says. So, together, we took turns reading out loud the entire Book of Revelation – the last book in The Bible. We realized this is no ordinary book. It was the word of God. God indeed was speaking to us in Revelation chapter 3 verse 20: “behold I stand at the door and knock”.
I returned to West Virginia to my college team but was 2 days late! I was mixed up on the schedule. The coach benched me. We had an away game vs West Virgnia Tech, and thinking I would not play, I went out drinking before the game. Then during warm-ups, I was so free and loose, almost every shot was going in. Coach changed his mind, and to my surprise started me!
I had to guard their point guard, Sedale Threatt, who later played for the Sixers and Lakers. I did ok, still feeling so relaxed, half drunk, going 5 for 5, not missing a shot, but Sedale was so quick, I tired quickly from the beer in my system. At a time out, my teammates joked me about the smell of alcohol so obvious!
Ruling my own life was not getting me consistent success or true peace of mind. Finally, after a home game in January I prayed for the first time with all my heart, “who are you God - I want to know you”. Immediately His peace filled the room.
Then, there was music from another dorm room disturbing my quiet moments with God. It was my teammates partying. Asking them to turn down the sounds didn’t go over well with them. So, I asked them, “guys what will happen when we die – we all gonna die someday!”.
Well, they were not in a mood to hear that topic, so I went out walking to visit a friend in town. On the way, while walking on the sidewalk, God began dealing with me. Suddenly in some kind of vision or trance I was going down, down, down to outer darkness or hell. The Lord was showing me my need of a Savior. In my spirit, I cried out, oh God, I don’t want to go that way. It was by His grace, my repentance. Then He revealed His name: Jesus … I cried out 3 times, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. On the third time, suddenly He had entered my life, ruling my heart and mind. I was changed. Continuing to walk on the sidewalk, I sensed evil behind me. The enemy of my soul no longer had control of me - Jesus had become The Lord of my life!
Waking up the next morning, I awoke to God’s peace in the room, and in my heart. I had the same peace that my 6’8” teammate had, though he had moved away, his lifestyle as a Christian had spoken to me. This morning was a planned team breakfast. One of the guys asked me, “where did you go last night?”, since he was a bit worried about me. My answer was, “Guys Jesus is real – you all need to know Him”.
Well, they were surprised at my comment, and in weeks following, that my lifestyle had changed. I was able to invite a local pastor to my dorm room for Bible study. Low and behold, there was standing room only – God was drawing others to also turn to Christ, and be saved.
If you are in any way like I was, you realize that ruling your own life is a decision that will only get you so far. Letting The King of Kings rule your life is a decision that will assure you of Heaven one day!
Still along the way are many challenges, and experiences as God leads you for His glory!
... next blog: basketball ministry in a USA State Prison.