(Paul is a member, and the pastor, of Chegoggin Baptist Church of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada.)
"I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD." Psalm 40:1-3
I was born into a good home where my father and mother cared for me. We were nominally religious and my parents dropped my sister and I off at Sunday school most Sundays. I guess you could say I was a typical child of the time. I learned a few Bible stories, and generally saw church as something to be avoided if possible. When I became about 10-yrs old my parents started to attend a small country Baptist church more regularly. It was here that I heard some of the first real gospel preaching I can remember. On several occasions I was confronted with my sin. I began to try harder to avoid church. I would do things to assuage my conscience like read my Bible and pray. I would go to church and try to “do” right things to mask my guilt. I even agreed to be baptized. I knew most of the right answers according to how I had been taught but I was still plagued with guilt, anger and frustration. My attempts at reformation were shallow and vain. On the outside I was a normal “nice boy” but on the inside I was terribly alone and sick.
In my teen years I went to church to appease my parents but had no desire to be in church. The façade I had had for so long began to vanish when I was given more opportunity to sin and be out from under the watchful eyes of my parents. I became more callous and wicked. I still retained a “shred of morality” and knew the right answers and strangely enough thought of myself as a Christian.
When I entered the University of New Brunswick I came face to face with a bunch of “religious freaks”--I avoided them. I was unable to warn my friends to “stay away from them” because it would make me look too much like the heathen I really was. They started to have a Bible study in my friend’s dorm room and because I didn’t want people to think I was irreligious I reluctantly went. One night all the sermons I had heard and all the realization of how wicked my heart really was came crashing in on me and I had to admit when confronted with the scripture that I was not what I thought I was.
On October 22nd ,1987 at the parking lot of St. Thomas University I bowed my head and asked Christ to be my Saviour. I knew I could not live for him, I didn’t even know why He would want me other than He loved me. There were no fireworks, no feelings of being overwhelmed, no lights…but something changed on that day. Things were not the same for me from that point on. I could no longer shrug off God. I could no longer do the things I used to do as “normal” without being strangely troubled by them. This Jesus Christ was REAL. He had moved in.
The first year of my saved life was very hard. I tried desperately to cling to the things that had given me comfort before, that had given me purpose but those things were all turning sour. I became more bitter and angry than even before. It wasn’t until I understood that Jesus Christ wanted absolute control that I could silence this new battle waging inside of me. I would not be at peace until I did what He wanted. I feared this for I did not fully understand His hand upon me yet. Through a series of deep events in my life where I made a wreck of my life and hit bottom that I finally gave over the reigns of my life to Christ to do what He would. From that point on things again changed drastically. I struggled with His will but did what He was urging me to do. I followed His leading to study the Word of God full time and through that time came to understand God’s calling upon me to preach the Word of God. If He could forgive and cleanse such a miserable wretch like me He could reach anybody.
Whatever I have I have been given by the grace of God alone, what I have become is by His hand and his gifts. I have nothing to boast in except the cross of Jesus Christ. God took mercy upon an undeserving wretch like me. He reached down in His love and grace and rescued me from my sin and self. He has given me so much I do not deserve and kept from me that punishment I so richly deserve. God stepped into the life of a lonely frustrated angry soul and gave life. The more I submit myself to Him and the authority of His Word the more peace, direction, joy and grace I have.
Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe,
sin had left a crimson stain He washed it white as snow.
"But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." Galatians 6:14
Dr. Paul H. Parks
Pastor of Chegoggin Baptist Church