It was February, 1969. I was an officer in the United States Air Force, stationed in Alaska but on a temporary duty assignment to McChord Air Force Base, Washington. Although I had been raised by Christian parents, I had not to date made a personal, genuine commitment to Jesus Christ as my Savior.
The previous summer in Alaska I had met the young lady who was to become my wife of 38 years (she is now in heaven with the Lord and her saved loved ones there). She clearly had a personal relationship with Jesus, and I saw the evidence of it in her life. A resident of Alaska, she was studying at a college in Portland, Oregon. So while I was on my temporary duty at McChord AFB, Washington, I was able to visit her at her college in Portland on the weekends.
One Saturday she took me to a Christian book store and encouraged me to buy a New Testament. I did, and I took it home to my quarters on base. As I began to read the Gospels, the Word of God gripped my heart deeply. Night after night after work I would read the Scriptures voraciously, even taking lengthy notes. I had taken a Bible course in my college years, but that had been only an academic exercise. But this time I found myself experiencing the spiritual life and vitality of God’s Word. I felt the life-giving power that Jesus spoke of when He said, “The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life” (John 6:63).
Before long the truth of the Scriptures and their message of salvation by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ broke through to my spirit and my mind. I will never forget that night in February, 1969, in my bachelor officers’ quarters on base.
Deeply moved by the Holy Spirit as I sat on my bed, I sincerely repented of my sins and asked Jesus to forgive me and to save me. Immediately I had a vision of Him. At the foot of my bed I saw the Lord Jesus standing. Was it a literal vision or a vision He planted in my “mind’s eye”? I can’t tell, but in either case it was very, very real to me.
I had just repented of my sins and asked Him to be my Savior and Lord. Immediately I saw the Lord at the foot of my bed. Can I give an exact description of Him? No, and I think that He wisely focused my attention on His two arms and hands. What I saw was Jesus extending His arms and hands out to me. This was very clear.
I discerned that He was giving me a twofold message with those extended arms: (1) He loved me and forgave my sins and gave me new birth into the family of God; and (2) He was saying, “I want all of you; give yourself fully to me. Hold nothing back.”
Today as I write this, almost 48 years later, I am still stirred and encouraged by the Lord’s gracious appearance to me at that moment when I was saved and entered God’s family of born-again believers. And I have shared that special moment with you, our readers, to encourage you with those two messages that I felt Jesus was speaking to me. Let these strengthen you too in your relationship with Jesus Christ:
1) Jesus loves you deeply, so much so that He was willing to come to earth and to die on a cross to take your sins (1 Corinthians 15:2-4), so that you in turn can come to Him in faith and repentance. He is very pleased to make you a child of God and an heir of eternal life with Him. If you haven’t yet done so, reach out to Him as your Savior and Lord. If you already have, continue to love and serve Him who is “Lord of all” (Acts 10:36).
2) Hold nothing back; give yourself and your life fully to Him. And at the end of your time on this earth you will certainly hear Jesus’ loving, grace-filled words to you personally: “Well done, good and faithful servant … Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21).
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©2016, James H. Feeney. Copyright statement.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.