Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again…he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” ~ John 3:5
On March 19th, 1995 – exactly twenty years ago today – I was gloriously re-born of the Spirit of God by repenting of my sins and putting my faith in Jesus Christ! I passed from death to life…from darkness to light…saved into Eternal Life with my Savior and my Lord.
Left: A picture of this sculpture called “Born Again” is on the wall of my office at church. Can you figure out what the sculptor is creatively representing?
Here is a summary of the sequence of events that the Lord brought about to providentially pave the way along the road to my RE-birthday…
It has been said, “A calm sea has never made a skillful sailor”. Having been born and raised on the east coast, this old adage appropriately illustrates my voyage with Christ before, during and after several of the most significant personal storms of my life.
In my ways, I am very thankful for having been raised in a religious home with definitive rules of conduct based on biblical principles. Further, I deeply love both of my parents and truly respect them for doing their best to spiritually raise me with the knowledge and convictions they had. That said, I never had a personal relationship with God and would later rebel against him, thus becoming living proof that “rules without relationship lead to rebellion”. However, God also providentially placed in my childhood a real “born again” Christian named Greg Sullivan, the oldest brother of my best friend, Ken.
Throughout my school years, I became a tenacious achiever with a determination to win rather than lose and natural instinct to lead rather than follow. Although this intense ambition was often mistaken as perfectionism the performance accolades I earned from both competitive sports and academics would set the stage for my new-found career as a singer/songwriter. Ken was my guitar player and we were going to be Rock stars and live happily ever after – plain and simple.
Right: Can you guess the identity of this long-haired beauty? Hint: He was a dead man before March 19th, 1995!
Just as our band was beginning to receive attention from the music industry, I set sail into my first storm with the news that Greg “the Christian” Sullivan was killed in a motorcycle accident at the age of 33. For such a supposedly “good” God, He certainly made a bad choice when He ended the life of such a sweet man like Greg so prematurely. I remember rationalizing: “It would’ve made much more sense for Him to take a sinner like me.” Little did I know that God was working out a much bigger plan…
The “celebration of life” for Greg was A LOT different than the funerals to which I had grown accustomed. The Pastor told a true story that would forever change my life of an Olympic diver who had earned everything the world had to offer, yet was intensely scared to die.
Overcome by despair one night, he went alone to the pool and after stepping up to the high diving board, noticed that his stance cast a silhouette on the wall in front of him in the shape of a cross. It was then that all those years of church sermons came rushing back and, for the very first time, he was confronted by his own wicked sinfulness in light of God’s perfect holiness. As God granted him repentance and faith by His Spirit, he came back down by the waters edge and gave his life to Christ.
The very next morning he again walked by the swimming pool and chose to look into the water to behold the Christ-wrought countenance of his new reflection. However, looking closer towards the water he noticed that the pool had been completely drained for maintenance the night before and the height of the potential dive would have surely killed him!
The Lord used this testimony to bring me to a church of believers where I heard the Good News and received Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord on March 19th, 1995 – exactly 6 months to the day after I heard of the bad news of Greg’s tragic death. Click here to read more on Greg’s story.
Though there have been many more chapters of my life written by the Lord’s hand (and I hope there to be many more), I am deeply thankful for the story that He continues to write by His sovereign grace.
Interestingly, today both Ken Sullivan and I are followers of Jesus Christ…along with many, many others who the Lord touched through Greg’s life and death. So I guess, in the end God did graciously allow us to become “Rock stars” of a different sort…two lights shining in the darkness who now unashamedly and unapologetically build our lives on the Rock and His Word.
Also, now that I serve full time as a pastor and equipping evangelist, it is truly humbling to speculate the countless souls He has since saved an continues to save through Greg’s death.
Christian, if you don’t already, I encourage you to celebrate your “RE-Birthday” each year! Heaven celebrated the day you were saved, so why not honor God through a little “righteous reminiscing” while down here on earth?
In closing, I invite you to listen to the audio file below to hear a special “Conversations” segment on Faith FM 99.9 in London Ontario, where I first converse with host Marion concerning my testimony before we turn a sharp corner into a controversial conversation about true and false conversion in the church. Enjoy!
Secure in Him,