Presented by Larry Morris at the AHS Class of 1968 October 7, 2018 Worship Service
I have the privilege today to tell you why I love Jesus…and I do! I humbly stand before you and unashamedly profess Jesus is my best friend. I believe in Father God, our Creator. I Believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit. I Believe Jesus was crucified, died, buried and He rose again.
There’s a popular Emmy awarded television series running each week entitled: “This is us”. Poor grammar (I’m certain Mrs. Schoen would have some choice comments about it) but a great series. Have you seen it? Week by week it portrays a saga of family missteps, ups, downs, tears of sorrow and joy, mess-ups and tragedies…much like my own life.
I started off seemingly well. Third grade I remember fire drills and while living in the Cold War, we had periodic drills for what to do should nuclear war break out. Those drills created a fear in me. Living near Pantex, I was convinced we were doomed!!! About that time, I observed Peggy Test and some other church peers who professed Faith in Jesus and were baptized. That put me to thinking…this must be the Way!
It culminated one night in an outdoor revival that Baptists held near Palo Duro Canyon. All week there was preaching about Jesus, the Bible and God by a colorful evangelist named Angel Martinez. Nothing moved me particularly until the last night. It was do or die. The evangelist dressed in a flashy pink suit, which back then was even more an oddity, began telling the audience that we had a choice to make about our eternal destination. Would it be Heaven or Hell? Well, I made my choice then and there and asked Jesus to save me.
The days after I sensed greater peace in my life, but as I got to high school, like most high schoolers, I seriously struggled with peer pressure, being height challenged (REALLY challenged!) along with fears and insecurities. At age 16 I remember something or Someone called me to become a medical missionary to Africa, and that became my life goal.
Fast forward to my college days and a switch went off in me that wasn’t good. I entered into a life of partying, rebellion, rejection of my old values and faith, and my old friend FEAR came rumbling into my life along with 3 other friends – SHAME, GUILT, and CONDEMNATION. I recall one Sunday afternoon that my parents phoned me to inform that AHS burned down. That was in March of 1970, and I thought to myself, “I’m burning down, too”. I felt extreme guilt and heard a lying voice tell me I was no longer any good for GOD. Med school took a heave ho, and I cried out to God for a new beginning. So it was law school for me and I started over. By God’s grace, I got through, started a law practice and met the most BRILLIANT answer to my prayers (other than salvation) when God brought Sara into my life. Hallelujah! She’s been my wife for almost 42 years. It was then I began to get hold of my senses, turned around, and started a new search for God. I would do anything and everything I could trying to win back His favor.
After all these years, I never read the Bible completely through; so, I got started. I was completely mesmerized by the scriptures, couldn’t put God’s Word down, and I remember quite well when I first read Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all your ways and He will direct your path”.
As I continued to read through the Bible, I was overwhelmed by the love of God for me, for His unconditional love and multiple opportunities for “do-overs”. Not long after that, Sara and I travelled to Kenya, Africa on a mission endeavor. Peering out at the beautiful Africa plains, and with tears of regret, I remembered that early calling on my life. While there, I had an intense reunion with Jesus, that started a relationship - quite real and personal - that continues today. And a few days later I heard His call to join Billy Graham’s team on a crusade going to Moscow, Russia in October 1992. It was as if I had been impregnated by the Holy Spirit to go. I made the cut, and can truthfully say it served lots of purposes to demonstrate to me that God still loved me, could use me for His purposes, that I COULD survive the Iowa winters having spent a month in Russia and in Siberia, that He loved the Russian people, the ones I feared during the Cold War days, and that He had a new plan for my life and for the Russian people.
Suffice it to say, God in His wonderful Love for me and for the world, gave me a great new beginning once again. I don’t want to mislead you. I still don’t know everything about Jesus and God and I don’t have it all together. But I know this fact with absolute certainty: Jesus loves you and me and every single one of His creation. THIS IS US! I’ve given Him all my fears and found an amazing inner peace that continues today with great confidence and hope for my future.
So why do I share this with you today? As I look around my hope is that each of you, too, will join me in that heavenly destination, whenever time’s up. We don’t know what awaits us. This week while reading His Word, God highlighted this passage in Romans 13 for all of us to ponder… “This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone, the day of salvation will soon be here.”
I hope you, too, know the joy of new beginnings with Christ Jesus. I love you and want to see you at more Amarillo reunions, and, for sure, many, many more in HEAVEN!