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How Greg got Saved, Part Five. Greg Gets Saved.

by | Jun 14, 2024 | News

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We left off yesterday with my having gotten clean and sober in court mandated Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and my subsequent disillusionment with AA, which was functioning as a religion of sorts in my life.

I continued going to AA (and NA) meetings because I didn’t really know what else to do. Life definitely was better than it was before. I was clean, sober and off the street after all. I didn’t know what it was, but I was still discontented and seemingly going through the motions of living.

One Sunday evening I was at the alano club where I had gone to my first meeting 14 months earlier. By that time I had developed a real disdain for some of the members there. Mainly the one’s who ran the place. (long stories) Also, the whole “higher power” aspect was a literal joke. Some of these folks had the stupidest and most irrational concepts of what they called their “higher power” that anyone could imagine.

Truth be told, the “higher power” thing didn’t even mean anything to me. In fact, I didn’t even take the 12 steps all that seriously and neither did most of these other people, though they talked about them all the time. We stayed sober because we had that common cause and kinda fed off of one another.

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Anyway, I went to that Sunday night meeting in august of 1984. Pretty good crowd. Maybe 40 or so people.

We started with the serenity prayer, blah blah blah like always and some folks took turns trying to impress the rest of us with their clever elocution. A thing that I was guilty of myself, though I didn’t speak that night.

A black man, who I hadn’t seen in the room, got up to speak. This was interesting because there were VERY few black people in the Phoenix area at that time. You could easily go a week without seeing one. I had never seen him before.

He got up to the podium and said (close paraphrase from memory, like all my quotes in this series):

My name is Bob Allen and I am not an alcoholic. I am a new creature in Christ. A born again son of THEE living God. I’m here to tell you that you can be sick the rest of your life if you want to, but if you don’t, it doesn’t have to be this way.

There IS a god. He is the creator of all things, including you and me. You don’t get to understand Him just any ol way you please. What matters is how HE understands YOU. Drunkenness is wrong, but getting sober won’t get you to heaven. Only Jesus Christ can do that.”

He spoke with a clear calm and utterly confident AUTHORITY.

I was stunned and sitting there thinking: “Well ALRIGHT!!! Now THIS is what I’m talking about. If there actually is a God, this guy’s God sounds like him.”

Everybody else in the room was silent and looked sour. The previous conversation I’d had with the fella who picked me up hitchhiking fluttered across my mind, but the meeting ended and I wanted to talk to this guy.

I walked up to him in the other room as he was about to leave. He accepted my handshake and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say him. I was nervous and a bit confused. I stammered around just telling him that I heard what he said in there… and… well… uh… I mean…

He interrupted me and said

I know what you’re trying to ask me son, even if you don’t” (He was in his 40s BTW)

He reached into his pocket and took out a piece of paper and a pen and wrote an address on it. No phone number. He politely and kindly told me: “If you want answers, be at that address on Tuesday night at 7 pm.“ and he walked out.

While I was processing this, the honchos at the club descended upon me:

Hey man, we saw you talking to black Bobby (that’s what they called him). Stay away from that guy! He’s a religious nut and a weirdo. With some really bad outdated ideas… and so on.”

They acted like they were afraid of him. All it did was convince me all the more to keep that appointment.

I thought about him, what he’d said in the meeting and our brief conversation, over the next 2 days. I also vaguely wondered if this might be somehow related to the guy who picked me up hitchhiking when I got out of jail. I had both anticipation and apprehension at the same time. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t even know this man.

I got to his apartment that Tuesday evening dripping in sweat after a 7 or 8 mile bike ride in the August valley heat. I was 20 at this time.

I knocked on the door and he answered. He just looked at me and said “Come on in.” Motioning me with his hand and moving to the side so I could.

It was spooky. He was expecting me. I could tell. He KNEW I was going to be there.

I got inside and he told me to have a seat on the couch. He was married to a younger white woman and they had three adorable chocolate milk babies, the oldest being six. She called him “Bobby”.

She brought me a tall glass of ice water and He got right to it and asked me what I believed about god and whether I believed in heaven and hell. I told him I was raised Catholic, but it never really meant anything to me. I did generally believe there was a god, but couldn’t really say what I thought beyond that.

I did tell him about my first AA meeting where I read the 12 steps from the poster on the wall. I told him I never did get comfortable with step 3.

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. “

Even from day one that made no sense to me. I remember thinking, ‘if I could understand god, whatever that actually means, seems to me I wouldn’t be in this mess.”

He asked me that IF there was a heaven and a hell, which I thought I would go to when I died. I told him “Well, I THINK I would go to heaven.” and I began to catalog my personal achievements over the past 14 months. “I got off the drugs and alcohol, I have a job and am supporting myself after a year of homelessness, I don’t steal anymore (which wasn’t even 100% true), I’m being faithful to my girlfriend, I mean that has to count for something, right?”

He had a deadly serious look on his face and said: “Son, you are headed to an eternal lake of fire if you do not repent of this life of rebellion.”

Just like that.

He was entirely unimpressed with my resume of righteousness.

In what I later came to recognize as the invincible conviction of the Holy Spirit, I KNEW he was telling me the truth. I just knew that.

He continued” “The one true God is perfect and holy. He cannot tolerate even the slightest bit of sin. Not mine, not yours, not anybody’s.”

I had a raging sense of guilt welling up inside me: I desperately asked him:

“What do I do?”

He told me: “You need to tell God that. Tell him that you know you’re a sinner. That you know you deserve His judgment of eternal damnation and there’s nothing you can do to save yourself from it. Tell Him that you believe His Son Jesus died in your place, taking that punishment for you. And that He rose from the dead so you could live forever. Believe that and tell Him. He will make you His child and your life will never be the same. Go ahead. Tell Him. He’ll hear you.

My heart was pounding. I managed to get out a rather inarticulate prayer, that did nonetheless include the things Bob told me to pray.

There weren’t any sensations or anything, but I knew something profound was happening to me

He stood up, motioned me to stand up and he gave me a hug. “We’re brothers now. Forever.”

He wrote his phone number on a piece of paper and put it in a brown Gideon Bible at the Gospel of John and gave it to me. I didn’t know the first thing about the Bible. I couldn’t have told you the difference between the old and new testaments.

He told me to pray when I got home before bed, thanking Jesus for saving me and the very first chance I got to read the Gospel of John where the paper was. He said not to worry about how much I understood right now, but to just ask the Lord to open my heart and mind to His Word. He told me that God was a perfect Father. Perfectly wise and He knows you’re a brand new baby believer. He’ll do the rest.

By the time I got home on my bike, I was wiped out, but quietly content. I wasn’t quite sure what all of this meant, but I knew it was big and I knew it was good.

I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor then, which to me was high luxury. I had a little table thing next to it. I took the Bible out of my backpack and put it on the table. I laid down and prayed: “Thank you Jesus for saving me. Bobby says you’ll watch over me and guide me. I believe that.” And I fell asleep.

I woke up the next morning with some time before I had leave for work. I picked up the Bible and opened it to where it was marked at the Gospel of John. I asked God to open my heart and my mind to His Word like Bob said, and started to read.

This is where I really knew that something had changed. It was alive in my hands. I didn’t know what it all meant, but I loved it. Most importantly, I BELIEVED it. I KNEW that what I was reading was true. It was obviously true.

I lost track of time and was now running up against the clock for work.

I thought for a minute and then walked to the laundromat in the trailer park where there was a payphone and called my job.

Hey Jennifer, it’s Greg. I haven’t been late or missed any time in months. Please Tell Tom (my boss) that I’ll be in in a few hours. I’m reading the Bible.” (yes, I really told her that)

Dead silence for 10 or 15 seconds.

“You’re reading the bible?”

Yeah. I can’t really stop right now, so I’d appreciate it if you’d let Tom know for me.”

More silence.

“Ok. I’ll tell him”

Thanks. I’ll see ya later.”

I devoured the gospel of John and the Book of Acts. All I knew was that that Bible, King James and all, was the greatest thing I’d ever read n my life.

When I got home, I started reading Genesis. I KNEW that that was true too. Everything I’d ever heard about evolution and all that must be wrong. Because God tells us right here how He created us. I had no doubts whatsoever.

—————————————————-

This is probably an abrupt and awkward place to stop, but it has to be somewhere and I think anywhere would be an abrupt and awkward place to stop. It’s been nearly 40 years since then, and man o man has ALOT ever happened.

I’d like to be able to tell you that I danced off into the sunset, saved, sanctified and full of the Holy Ghost, never to stumble again but that wouldn’t be the truth.

There was a prodigal season in the middle there that I won’t get into now. What matters is that our Father God is flawlessly faithful. I was still His son, even in my far country. Once He puts His name on somebody and seals them in the Spirit against the day of redemption, make no mistake about it. He WILL have His way in their life. He always wins.

I hope and pray that whoever has read this account this week of the immutable sovereign grace of a merciful God in one man’s life, has found profit in it.

Probably the biggest challenge was deciding what to include and what to leave out. As well as accurately remembering some of the details and sequence of events.

To Him who commands light, matter, time and space to exist from nothing, and upholds them every second by the Word of His power, be all the glory, honor and majesty.

All these decades later, that prayer never gets old.

THANK YOU JESUS FOR SAVING ME!!”

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