The Power of God Unto Salvation.
I can't think of Loyalton California without thinking of the Loyalton Assemblies of God. It was an intricate part of my childhood. I am a Christian, much of the faith I have today was birthed during my time in this little church. The following story is one way that God used His people to effect that community and indeed the lives of individuals like Chad and myself.
Chad and Laurie are real people whom I have renamed. Allowing me to add some of my own character and struggles with sin to his. However, the bulk of the story is as I can recall it. I pray that you enjoy it and are blessed by reading it.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, For it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
As a small child, my family lived in a little logging town in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains along the California and Nevada border. I can remember seeing a lot of loggers come off those rough mountains and out of the local sawmill covered in dirt. My father, covered in mud and sawdust, came home each day from the mill smelling of oil and turpentine. He would sit down exhausted, remove his boots, and then hurry off to the shower. Fortunately, the dirt was only skin deep. After the shower he transformed from “Mountain Man” to your mild mannered Dad. I was always amazed at the transformation.
Often, if I was within reach, I would be called on to help take off those boots. As you can imagine, it was not one of my favorite jobs. Each boot required loosening of what seemed like a hundred laces, a back breaking heave, and the ability to endure a smell that removed nose hair! Once the burdensome boots had been removed, and the green vapors had dissipated, the look of reprieve was always apparent on my Dad’s face and emphasized by a loud sigh of relief.
For others however, showers are not enough. The grime they wallow in daily discolors not only their cloths and skin, but their souls as well. No matter how hard they scrub, the stains remain. The stench of their life and the shame it brings follow them everywhere. For these men life is miserable. Their conscience is marred by the guilt of their past accompanied by their inability to overcome their present strongholds and addictions. Inside they are screaming for help while outwardly their countenance is shaped by anger. One such man whose life was so stained was Chad.
I can recall the first time I saw Chad. I was about 5 years old, my mother was babysitting his 2 children. He had stopped by to pick them up. I can still see him standing in the doorway to our kitchen, a can of chewing tobacco in his back pocket. He wore a dirty white short sleeved t-shirt. His hands and face were dirty, his boots were covered in mud from tromping through the hills, and his Levi jeans were stained from the day’s work. He wore his hair very short almost shaved, which made him look scary and mean. From the look of it, he hadn’t shaved in a couple days. You could tell by the lump under the skin of his lower lip that he was enjoying a “pinch of chaw.”
I had never seen anyone like him in my house before. His presence was startling. The combination of his dirty cloths, the chewing tobacco in his mouth and the bad words that he used with out conviction shocked me. All sorts of bad-guy alerts were going off in my head.
Now I would ask that as you read this story you keep in mind that I was raised in a pastor’s home and that children are naturally legalistic. To them, the world is morally black or white. Right and wrong! I saw this man as the greatest sinner on earth because of his outward appearance and obvious addictions; however time, God’s Word and my own need for God’s forgiveness have taught me not to judge people like Chad. At the time however, all I knew was what I saw. My parents had taught me basic moral rules. No bad words, no alcohol, and no smoking or chewing tobacco. There were more of course but for our story these will be sufficient.
Chad’s wife, Laurie, had just recently become a Christian. She was attending a lady’s Bible study that my mother was leading. She was always asking the group to pray for her husband’s salvation. Boy did I! I just knew this guy was headed straight for Hell. He cussed like a sailor and chewed tobacco! These two things alone would have brought the wrath of God down on our home. All I could do was shiver when I found out he had a drinking problem as well!
As a result I worried about him. Not to the extent that I would have worried about my own father. I worried just enough to make me pay attention to what was going on. I did not like the idea that he was going to Hell and so; I began to pray for him.
Chad’s reputation around town as a “Hell Raiser” was spawned by his quick temper, big talk and abuse of alcohol. His wife’s conversion, although not intentionally, added even more pressure on him to clean up his life. This added to his frustration and guilt, which in turn, drove him to drink even more. He had tried to stop a few times, never successfully. So instead of admitting his failure and his inability to overcome his addictions. He boasted that he liked his beer and tobacco and did not need to stop. This only made things worse for him and his family.
Chad was playing the fool, in that, the road he was on was leading to destruction. Though his eyes were wide open, he was blinded by his own desires. Instead of turning from the path of death, he was marching straight ahead.
The Chains of Sin
Proverbs warns us that the cords of sin hold fast. The beer and tobacco were surface stains. The deeper stain was the bondage of sin. Chad had been sold into slavery and his masters were the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. Every evil desire could be summoned at the crack of their whips. His sinful desires were in charge. He was powerless to resist. All the while, his hope for freedom was only a step of faith away.
I don’t know how long we all prayed for Chad. It seemed to me a long time; at least several years. However, God was not working on our time clock. In his precise and perfect time, God answered our prayers. One day an evangelist came to our church and held a week long revival meeting. After a great deal of pleading, Laurie convinced him to attend one of the meetings
We all watched in disbelief as he walked into the church. The first night he came and went. Chad was seemingly unaffected by the sweet spirit of God that was present all evening. Although it was not apparent, The Holy Spirit had been working on Chad’s heart, allowing him to see the helplessness of his condition.
Amazingly, he was there the next night as well. But this time the convicting spirit of God could not be ignored. Chad came to the end of himself that night. He acknowledged his sinful state and the death that it was bringing to himself and his family. Instead of condemnation and judgment. He found mercy, peace and a hope for the future. As he came forward and put his faith in Christ, a new man emerged. The Spirit of God and the grace that is found in his presence accomplished what nothing else could. He testified some time later that he had been set free from his addictions. He, for the first time, experienced the relief that comes from a clean conscious and the power that comes from a relationship with God. That night Chad turned away from the path of death and started down a new road, the road to life everlasting. Whose toll is the blood of Christ.
I was there that night watching the whole thing. I didn’t understand all that was happening. One thing, however, stood out to me more than anything else. As Chad stood up from the altar with an expression of joy on his face and his wife in tears next to him, something was different about him. It took me a few seconds to put my finger on it but once I figured it out, it was obvious and the difference was amazing. Chad was clean.
There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins. And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains. From The Hymn “There is a fountain filled with Blood”, William Cowper-1731-1800
There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood Sala
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