God got my attention through a painful divorce, and He unshackled me from years of rebellious and prideful living.
A Note from Central: Our beloved brother, Steve Johnson, passed away earlier this year. We keep this story on our website to honor him and his love of Jesus Christ. If you have any questions about who Jesus is and how He is still changing lives today, please read Steve’s story and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Saved in the Crosshairs
Written by: Steve Johnson
“God’s Spirit convicted me of the truth that I was indeed a hell-bound sinner, and that Jesus Christ had provided the only way for my sins to be forgiven … by dying on the cross and then rising from the grave.”
In my life, I have tried to find fulfillment in many things. Some of them were sports, work, relationships, and the party life. I would feel satisfied for a while, but I was never at peace. I knew something was not right in my life. So, feeling like I needed a new start, I enlisted in the Air Force.
After serving in the military, I moved to Oklahoma City and married a girl from my hometown that I’d been dating. I got a job working in finance, and my wife worked in banking and later real estate. My life seemed to be changing for the better. I was in love, and she said she loved me.
Eventually, we moved back to Memphis and bought our first home. After work one day, she met me on the driveway and said, “we need to talk.” She told me she wanted a divorce. I asked her to reconsider and at least give marriage counseling a try. She replied, “you’re never going to amount to anything. I’m leaving.” I asked, “where are you going?” She responded, “I’m going to stay with some friends.”
I smelled a rat. After looking further into the matter, I found out she was having an affair with a man she worked with. I was devastated. I still loved her. The vows I took still meant something to me.
On the one hand, my mom encouraged me to visit Central Church where she was a member. I knew she and her friends had been praying for me. Reluctantly I went, but mainly because they had a great basketball facility, and I liked the competitive games there. I had also begun talking to some of the men I met there. They cared about me and spoke the truth about the gospel of Jesus Christ into my life … and I was listening.
On the other hand, the more I thought about what was happening with my wife, the angrier I became. I didn’t know what to do. I was torn. So, I plotted to murder the man she was having an affair with. It went so far that I camouflaged myself one afternoon and waited for them to exit the building where they both worked. As I lay on the ground with the crosshairs of my scope on his chest, I was ready to squeeze the trigger. Then the words that my mom had recently spoken came to my mind. “Steve, you have to forgive them.” My reply to her was, “I don’t want to forgive them. I hate them.”
Time just froze, my brain was signaling my finger to squeeze the trigger, but it didn’t happen. By the grace of God, I got up, put the rifle back in my trunk, and drove away. I never went back there again. Soon after, I began reading the Bible I’d been given. I was at home doing laundry one day, and as I walked back to my bedroom to put my clothes away, God’s Spirit convicted me of the truth that I was indeed a hell-bound sinner, and that Jesus Christ had provided the only way for my sins to be forgiven … by dying on the cross and then rising from the grave.
I fell to my knees. I asked Jesus Christ for forgiveness of my sins and told Him I wanted to follow Him as my Lord. I laid there for a long time and just cried. The guilt of my many sins had weighed me down. The sins of anger and pride had almost driven me to take another man’s life. Then, when I stood up, I felt a weight fall from my shoulders, like heavy chains. On that day, I received forgiveness for my sins and God’s gift of eternal life. The Gospel of Jesus Christ had set me free!
God’s Word tells us, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). And now I know for sure that name is Jesus Christ, the name above all names!
Now, I can tell others how much God loves them and Jesus Christ died for them. No matter how far you’ve traveled on the wrong path, you are not beyond the reach of His love. God loves you and wants you to experience peace and life – abundant and eternal.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17)
ARE YOU SAVED?
Do you know what it means to be saved? Do you question whether or not God could love someone like you? Check out Central’s additional resources below which explain the Gospel, and what it means to be saved. You can also contact Central Church by using the button below if you have any questions or prayer requests.
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Matt Shackelford - February 6, 2023
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Scripture References: Luke 8:22-25