This morning, I read Matthew 10. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
I reflected on the life I have found by losing my own ambitions and plans.
I am a 5th generation native-born Texan. My great-great grandfather was born in the Wylie area of Collin County, Texas in 1853. His father had moved from Tennessee.
I am a 4th generation product of Mesquite, Texas. My great-grandfather Sam Seabourn moved to Mesquite. I graduated from the same Mesquite High School that my mother and father did. I married my high school sweetheart, also a 4th generation product of Mesquite, whose parents also graduated from Mesquite High School.
Until leaving for college, I had only lived in two houses and both were on the same piece of land. Kay had lived in one house on two pieces of land (her dad jacked up their house and moved it when their land was turned into a shopping center).
To say we have anything but deep roots in one place is a shallow statement.
But 40 years ago, in September 1971, when I was a junior at Texas A&M University, the God of the universe re-invaded my life. He reminded me that he had a call on my life. He reminded me that he wanted me to follow him with everything I am.
And that began an amazing journey that continues to this day.
The journey led us out of the engineering and school teacher roles we were preparing for, and into the role of a cross-cultural ambassador of the King of Kings, called a missionary. That began a journey that led us to leave our Texas roots for Nigeria where we lived for 15 years. That has led us through 6 passports filled with visas and stamps from 33 countries on 4 continents.
It started when a fellow Aggie student stopped by the Law Hall dorm room I shared with roommate Steve. It was a hot, humid September afternoon in the Brazos valley. As we sat on my bottom bunk and the springs squeaked every time I uncomfortably shifted, Frank shared the gospel with me using the Four Spiritual Laws. I told him I had accepted Christ as a young person through the influence of my parents and my church. Then Frank asked me, “So, if you were to die today, are you sure you would go to heaven.” I must have given him a somewhat acceptable answer, but also a somewhat confused one. My ongoing struggle with areas of sin robbed me of confidence that I was right with God.
Without missing a beat, Frank asked me “Would you like to make the wonderful discovery of the Spirit-Filled life?” We shifted into Campus Crusade’s famous blue book. As Frank walked me through these basics of the Christian life, for the very first time in my life I understood that following God was a step of faith. I understood there were Christians who lived by their own strength and Christians who lived by the Sprit’s strength. I understood spiritual breathing, how to deal with the sin in my life and how to see the life of Jesus flow through me by the power of his Spirit.
I still remember the visual image of that afternoon. My dorm room had a closet. A naked light bulb hung from a cord. As Frank shared the truths of the Spirit-filled Christian life, it was just like walking into my dark closet and switching on the light. Illumination. I could see. Everything made sense. God had prepared a path for an abundant, joyful life as his child. That afternoon, for the first of many times in my life, I invited the Holy Spirit to fill me with his overflowing presence.
Frank met with me weekly for follow-up Bible study. With his encouragement, I joined a Leadership Training class. I joined Frank in going door-to-door talking to other students about Jesus. I wrote letters to Kay, by then my fiance, explaining what I was learning. She, too, began walking daily in the power of the Spirit.
I was hooked by seeing my life transform, by seeing Kay’s life transform, and seeing the lives students change right before my eyes.
Now, 40 years after that September afternoon, I cannot imagine a different life. I wanted a job as an engineer in a big company. I wanted a vacation home. I wanted my own airplane. God wanted me to represent him to people in need. God wanted me to use the technical abilities he had given to help millions of people hear about his love through the Jesus film, through the internet, through mobile phones.
I am amazed that God uprooted a 5th generation Texas boy from a small suburb of Dallas and has given me such a privileged life. It all started on a September afternoon in 1971 in a dorm room when I asked the Holy Spirit to fill me with his power.
And I am eternally grateful.