March 28, 1978 doesn't mean a lot to most people. But for me, it was huge. I'll let the "short version" of my story speak for itself:
How many of you enjoy cleaning out the garage?
It was 2001 and I had to clean out more than just a garage. I had to clean out an entire house. I was 39 and my dad had died in January. My mom had already died five years before that, so this meant that I was responsible for cleaning out everything. It was really sobering going through all their stuff. My sister and I kept a few things, we sold a few things, but most things, well, had to be thrown out. You wonder, is life all about living 70 or 80 years, only to have what you did end up in a landfill somewhere?
My old High School: Palisades High School, located in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles
It was during that time that I thought back to a decision I made when I was almost 17 years old. I remember as a High School kid asking my parents “what is the meaning of life?” They weren’t sure, and said “guess you have to figure that out on your own.”
In contrast, someone I was taking with at High School said “without God life is meaningless.” I laughed at the comment that somehow God was part of the meaning of life.
Another view of Palisades High School, aka Pali High
But what if she was right? What if the whole Christianity thing that she and her friends at school talked about was true? My family wasn’t particularly religious. We never went to church, we didn’t have a bible anywhere in our house.
But what if it was true?
What if there really was a God? What if there was a heaven or hell? Was I good enough to get to heaven? Hardly. Was I bad enough to go to hell? Hmmm. Maybe.
This was important, so on my own, I decided to I’d visit their church. I didn’t know how it all “worked” - that there was a High School group – so I just went to the church service and sat in the back. I went once, twice, three times. After a month and a half or so, something clicked. I sat down with one of the pastors who explained that God offered his forgiveness through his son Jesus Christ.
Here's a link to A Skateboard Tale, a skateboarding themed tract I had read several months before
I asked God for his forgiveness and his leadership over my life. That was March 28, 1978. I expected the sky to open up or a bolt of lightening (a la The Blues Brothers). Of course, that didn’t happen. But over the weeks, and months, and years that followed I saw my life begin to change in three areas:
First, I began to develop compassion for others, even the poor and people who could not do something for me. That may not seem like a big deal - but for me, it was huge.
Second, for the first time in my life, there was a sense of purpose and meaning.
And third, God gave me the ability to forgive. I was able to ask for forgiveness for those I had wronged and I was able to grant forgiveness to others based on what God had done for me.
I'm continually grateful for the ministry of Calvary Church of Pacific Palisades, located at the time at 700 Via de la Paz. The church has since moved to a different location in Pacific Palisades and continues to actively minister to the westside of Los Angeles.
At the end of my life, as my kids or grandkids are cleaning out my home, I want my life to be about more than just what I’ve accomplished or a collection of stuff. I want my life to have been about a relationship with Jesus Christ.
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