Fixing My Broken Chain
Christ has not always been a part of my life. God was at work in my life even though I didn’t know it. When I was a senior in high school, a friend of mine had four tickets to Jazz at the Philharmonic. I didn’t have a date, but my friend mentioned a girl in a classroom across the hall that he’d gone to elementary school with he suggested I ask her. HOW WAS THE LORD WORKING FOR ME? It just so happened that when I looked out the door of our classroom into the classroom across the hall, I could see the girl’s face. I did ask her for the date, and she replied that I would have to ask her father first. With his permission we did attend the concert. In the short time of that first date, I realized there was something very special about her. She was quiet, but something in her demeanor was very appealing almost haunting. I asked her out again, and again. Over three years of dating I found out what that special thing was – she had faith in her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. By the way her name is Shirley.
I was not raised in a Christian home. The only time we called on God or Jesus was in profanity. Shirley’s father ran me off his place three times – He had asked me to come along to worship, but I told him where he could stick the church. As a 19-20 year old, I just didn’t think I had time for that, nor did I have a need, as all was going well for me.
Over the years, I did warm up a little to the Christian faith and a need for worship. I gave Shirley a ring one Christmas day, her father told me that if she was going to put that ring on, I was going to attend a “Basics of the Christian Faith” class. I did attend as promised with the thought of only keeping a promise. l did learn there was a need to be baptized, and I was baptized on September 15, 1957, 4 months after our marriage. I believe I became a child of God at that time and a member of His Christian family. But having fulfilled my father-in-law’s request, I soon became a church drop-out. I didn’t really know it, but God had been working, was working, and would continue to work in powerful ways in my life.
I would worship occasionally, whenever the mood hit me, but my wife Shirley went faithfully. As our children came along, she also took them faithfully. I’d go off racing or playing ball on Sundays. I also had a second job with my own lawn-care business. One day I came home late, stepped inside our little home, and over-heard my wife teaching our 2 year old daughter the prayer “Now I lay me down to sleep; I pray Thee, Lord, my soul to keep; If I should die before I wake; I pray Thee, Lord, my soul to take. Amen.” That prayer touched me mightily and brought tears to my eyes, perhaps I, as a loving father, should reconsider my responsibilities.
Little did I know that there was a conspiracy going on in my wife’s family – they all thought I needed a little more Christian education and they asked me to attend another class with them. At that class the pastor showed me a drawing. OH, HOW GOD WAS WORKING IN MY LIFE! This drawing has made a big difference in my Christian walk.
God’s name was at the top, and each week under the name “God” the pastor added a chain link – eventually ten links representing the 10 Commandments with my name down at the bottom of the chain “holding on”.
Each week he added to the drawing, and explained one of God’s commandments – the first: Have no other gods (Sports, racing, etc.), the second: Don’t misuse God’s name (I had a pretty foul mouth), the third: Worship and study God’s Word (I usually ignored this). I began to see that I was sinning in my thoughts, my deeds and in my words.
I considered myself to be pretty moral, but I was beginning to see how irreverently I was acting toward God. I had indeed broken those links with God.
The pastor also drew flames representing hell at the bottom of the page. He explained that when you break a link of the chain, you are on your way to those flames. That image really frightened me. I found out from God’s Word that it only takes one sin to separate us from God forever.
As a good thinking moral person I thought I would be okay with the rest of the Commandments. Then the Pastor explained that stealing included cheating on your income tax, taking things that were not yours, not putting in an honest day’s work for your employer. And bad thoughts like wanting someone else’s car or girl were also sins. Murder could be evil thoughts toward someone, not protecting another person’s name, etc. I knew all my links were broken. O my, I thought, what can I do to correct this? Then as we progressed with the class pastor used an eraser and made a gap, breaking each of the links. I was thinking: Is there any hope for me?
Yes, there is. The pastor drew a cross and put Jesus on it. He drew drops of blood from Jesus that paid for my sin. He said, “While Jesus was on the cross, I was on His mind.” And so He put a cross in every gap of all of my broken links.
Every link was restored because of Jesus who had not only died for me but who also rose in victory and was alive forever as my living Savior and Lord. I was so overwhelmed by what Jesus did for me that the burden of my sin was taken from me.
And to be honest, I keep sinning, re-breaking my links. But the wonderful thing is that the blood of Jesus is there for ALL time. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). And –“For by grace are you saved” (Ephesians 2:8). I was finally understanding pure grace. I didn’t have any hand in this picture. The only hand I had in this picture was breaking my chains.
Does being a Christian bring only good things to our lives? Not necessarily. My Christian life has not always been a bed of roses. For example, the Lord chose to take a son from our family just short of his 21st birthday. My sorrow was so great that I wasn’t even able to form prayers in my mind, but I did know that others were praying for us. The beauty of belonging to God’s family is that others help and sustain us in the difficult times in our lives.
We also had a daughter that become pregnant out of wedlock during high school. It totally devastated us. But God brought us through that also. The baby was adopted by a family looking for a child, and our daughter finished high school and went on to college, married and together with her husband brought into this world four more children. A pastor once told me: when your children are young they step on your pride; when they are older they step on your heart.
Through all that we’ve gone through we have learned to share our struggles with a brother or sister in the faith – people who help us turn to God’s Word. We’ve learned in every situation that God’s promises are true and we can depend upon them. So there is constant hope for the future. Does God re-direct our lives? Of course He does — because He dislikes us? — No, but because He loves us.
The hardest thing in life is to admit that we are wrong, and that we’ve been wrong, and that we’re going to continue to do wrong. But there’s certain hope in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who fulfilled the promise that we cannot fulfill. He fixed my broken chain . . . and He has fixed yours too. “SO HAS GOD BEEN WORKING IN MY LIFE?” – you bet He has and He will continue to do so. We still look for opportunities to grow and to be sustained in our faith. Thanks be to our Heavenly Father for all He has done. And He is able to do for you also.