I remember July 1993 like it was just yesterday, when I heard the words of the doctor telling me I had advanced liver cancer, that there was nothing they could do for me.  He told me to get my house in order, because I’d be dead in a month or less.  

Little did I realize then, that was the best advise anyone ever gave me.  I was 45 years old, had been divorced three times, remarried for the fourth time, and yet I had not learned why I was such a mess.  It wasn’t that I really wanted to be a mess.  Nobody wakes up one day and decides to make a mess of their life.  It just sort of “happens”, know what I mean?  At least, it did with me.  I was driven to be a people pleaser, and the only friends I had back then were “users” except for one or two.  My life was built around trying to impress people with my skills, or what I did for them, or what I possessed.  That pattern started in my life at childhood, and was deeply imbedded in me.  Even though I was unhappy with my lifestyle, it was all I knew, so I hung onto it for dear life.  Hello? Am I the only one who has done this?  I had no long-term dream or goal for my life. It was just a day-to-day existence, to get by the best I could for that day.  There was hope that things would get better, but they never seemed to.  And when things went wrong for me, there was never anyone to stand by me to help, it was then I knew I was the only one I could depend on.  So my world revolved around the ”big 3″;  me, myself, and I.  Now my time was about up. 

Funny how staring death in the eye can make you reevaluate your priorities.

 Each week I went to church, “doing God a favor”, or so I thought.  I’d put in my two hours like a good boy, then went back to whatever I was doing before, which was sinning and heading for hell.  Suddenly, what I had or what I could do or who I could impress lost all its importance.  There was only one thing that really got my attention, and that was, where will I spend eternity? That fateful day in July 1993 was a wake-up call for me. 

It would be nice if I could say that day I fell in love with Jesus, but that isn’t how it was.  I was still the “old man” concerned only for my own survival and didn’t want to go to hell.  Oh, I knew that’s where I was headed, and believe me, I’d earned it.  But how could I straighten out my messed up life at this point and slide safely to “home”, when the card I drew said “Go straight to hell, do not pass “GO”, do not collect $200?

Little did I know that Jesus was more concerned about my soul than I was.  All those years of attending church served only to make me believe God wanted to send me to hell.  “Do this, don’t do that, you’d better get it right, boy, or God’s gonna get ya!”

I thought that if I could straighten up sufficiently before dying, that Jesus might save me by the skin of my teeth.  Many times in my past I’d tried to straighten up, but failed after a few days, but this time I was desperate, and time was short. You know, sometimes I think church and religion drives more people away from God than it draws to Him.  It’s no wonder that more people aren’t head over heels in love with God.  But all that was just about to change for me. 

Desperate to escape hell, I asked Jesus to save me.  Guess what?  I met God.  I met MERCY!  I met LOVE like I’d never thought existed! The old man I was before died the day I met Jesus.  And the old God I thought I knew also died that day. As soon as Jesus saved me, He told me read Psalm 103:2-3; Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases.

There’s this story about a farmer in the Ozarks who got a visit from a city slicker one day.  The farmer wanted to show him how good his mule could plow.  He picked up a two-by-four and hit the mule across the head as hard as he could, and the city slicker said, Why did you do that?  The farmer said, This is a good strong mule, and he can do a lot of work, but you have to get his attention first!”

And I guess that’s how it was with me, God had to get my attention first.  He didn’t give me cancer, the devil did.  But God gave me the CURE for it! Then He told me to forget all I’d ever learned about Him, and start in Genesis 1:1 and read through the Bible and let Him show me who He really is.  Over the next three months I read the Bible cover to cover and I hadn’t gotten 3 chapters into Genesis before I said “That isn’t right!”  He said, Excuse Me? 

Jesus had told His disciples, Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead; freely ye have received, freely give.  Here, Jesus had healed me of cancer and right away I was trying to raise the dead, that is, the old dead religion I had before.  I had to let the old man die and stay dead.  Indeed, I needed to get my house in order.  And so do some of you. 

Religion kills people.  Religion hides who God really is.  That’s why when God came to his chosen people the Jews in the form of Jesus, they didn’t even recognize Him.  He didn’t line up with what they had made their religion into, so they thought He could not have been sent of God.  They even accused Jesus of having a devil. 

Everywhere I look in the Bible, I see a God who is trying to get His mercy through to people, to give them a better life, free from sin, guilt, sickness, shame, poverty, strife and hatred.  Everywhere Jesus went, He did good, and was gracious to people, and healed their sick.  He was just doing what He had always done.  He was mercy and love.  But religion had perverted their view of who God was.

Now I’m so glad the doctor told me to get my house in order. The first order of business was to get rid of my old ideas about God and let Him show me who He really is.  And He showed me who I really am to HIM! Beloved and acceptable and valued as His child.  Holy, without blame, and spotless, through the blood of Jesus.  Notice i didn’t say without wrinkle.  I have a few wrinkles these days, but He doesn’t see them! 

Today, I say to you, get your house in order.  Stop living a meager, miserable, just-get-by existance, worried, sick, sad, and depressed.  That isn’t what God intends for you!  Let me put it like this; if the god you have been serving all this time isn’t filling your heart with his love to the point that you’re bubbling over and just can’t stand it if you’re not telling others about his goodness, then you must be serving the wrong one.  You need a new god.  I found out the god I was serving was merely religion, tradition, and it was a counterfeit! But I found the real deal!

My life has never been the same since I made Jesus my Lord and Savior.  He has shown me His Father by the way He treats me.  And He treats me real good!  I’m healed!  I’m blessed!  I’m His!  Guess what?  He wants to do the same for YOU!  When?  How about, RIGHT NOW!  He’s waiting, and you’re just a bent knee and a prayer away from it.

Will the real God of the Universe please stand up?  Thank You, Lord.  Now, I’m kneeling before you, Father God, submitting myself unto You.  Lord, as sincerely and simply as I know how, I’m asking You to be my God.  Father, I believe the Lord Jesus died as payment for my sins and rose again the third day.  I confess Him now as my Lord and Savior, and ask You to fill me now with Your Holy Spirit.  My life is in Your hands now, make me all I can be for You.  I receive Your healing that You may be glorified by my life.  Help me put my house in order, Lord. I ask these things in Jesus’ name.  Amen.