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God had put me in this place, where the only choice or recourse I had, was to call on Him!
And boy was I glad to be able to! He was there! And boy did I ever need Him!
I was born August 26, 1959. I was saved at 19 years old, at home in my bed when I called on Jesus Christ and asked Him to forgive me of my sins. He saved me the moment I called on Him. I can take you to the place. After my salvation, I made the mistake of not "desiring the sincere milk of the Word". If babes don't have milk, they don't grow. And such was the case with me...I didn't grow. I gradually became entangled again in the same things that I had previously been doing, drinking, drugs and all the other things associated with this lifestyle. Although I had been down this sinful road before, something was very different now. Before, when I would partake in all these things, they didn't seem wrong and didn't bother me in the least. But now, every time I engaged in these activities, I felt like a sheep-killin' dog. The Holy Spirit would eat me alive with guilt, shame and conviction. Knowing I was wrong in the things that I was doing, I continued to dig myself into a pit, deeper and deeper, trying to escape the guilt. I became my own worst enemy. I let Satan lead me into this carnal trap because I didn't get established, rooted and grounded in God's Word.
After a few years of living in misery, I decided that I needed to be in church. I thought attending church would make the guilt go away. I still didn't have a clue as to what living a Christian life really meant. Attending church satisfied my conscience for a while, until I foolishly decided I could enjoy the best of both worlds. Boy was I ever wrong... I thought that God wouldn't mind if I had an occasional beer with my friends or attended parties with some of the old gang. I'd go out and have a few on Friday and Saturday night and then attend church on Sunday to put my conscience at ease. God never removed that old guilt feeling. I still knew and was convicted that what I was doing was wrong in God's eyes.
Finally on April 21st, 1984 God brought it all to a screeching halt! I decided to go camping with some of the old bunch. I enjoyed hunting a lot and it was spring gobbler season in Virginia. We decided we'd camp out, party Friday night (Good Friday, 1984 by the way) and get up early the next morning and go turkey hunting. God had other plans. On the way to the camping spot that Friday evening, I stopped at a convenience store to pick up what we'd need for the weekend. Something strange was going on in my mind. I had been convicted more than usual lately about how I was living (partying and attending church). The conviction seemed to be magnified this particular weekend. Anyway, I walked into the store with these things bearing heavy on my mind for some odd reason. I walked up to the cooler and reached to open the door where the 12 packs were. Something told me "Don't open that door". It wasn't an audible voice, neither was it something I just imagined and could dismiss. I knew it was the Lord speaking to me in that still, small voice. I put my hand down, contemplating what to do. I knew that I had better not do the usual thing and buy a 12 pack. So, I stood there for a moment and collected my thoughts. I looked over in the cooler directly beside where I had reached just moments before. That's when I saw the 6 packs. I reasoned that, surely buying just six wouldn't be as bad as buying 12. Bad move! Yep, I compromised... Knowing better, I convinced myself to open the cooler door and get the beer. Maybe this was all just my imagination and it would go away. But, when I opened the door, the most horrid feeling came over me. I felt like I had just set in motion something that I couldn't stop nor did I have control over. I was genuinely scared, terrified. I felt like I was heading for disaster...and I was. What was God going to do? I didn't know what He was going to do, but I knew in my heart that I had crossed that final boundary that He had drawn. This was the last straw and it was too late.
I went on and set up camp that evening, trying to have a good time and erase these things from my mind, but I couldn't. I didn't want to be where I was and I couldn't shake the awful sense of urgencyand dread that I had felt earlier. I drank one beer that night and part of another and enjoyed neither of them. This was unusual.
The next morning, my buddy and I were up early to get started turkey hunting. I had pretty much dismissed the events of the last evening, although I had not completely forgotten them. The fear that God was going to do something and the sense of dread had subsided somewhat. We discussed where we wanted to go and hunt that day. My buddy mentioned going to the High Knob section of nearby Jefferson National Forest. Knowing that this public ground is heavily hunted and that turkey hunting is a dangerous sport, I suggested we hunt the land next to where we had camped. My reason for this being that we would probably be a lot safer and we could walk to where we would hunt. He agreed and we set out on a day I'll never forget.
We arrived at the place we intended to hunt, about 1 1/2 to 2 miles from where we camped the night before, on top of a big ridge. We seperated and I set out on my own. I walked about 1/4 mile down a steep ridge and set up and began calling. Everything I had been thinking seemed to be gone from my immediate conscience as I concentrated on listening for a turkey to answer my calls.
I heard one gobbler in the distance. Excitedly, I called harder. Then a hen started yelping about 100 yards below me. I thought to myself, "If I keep that old hen around with my calling, that gobbler will be down here real soon". The hen came closer and closer. Although I hadn't seen her yet, I could hear her walking in the leaves, about 50 yards away. I kept calling. All at once, a shot rang out! I thought my buddy had shot at this hen that had come to my calling. I assumed that he was aware that hens were illegal to take in the spring, so I stood up to go see what was going on. As soon as I stood up another shot rang out. Now I was really confused! I still hadn't seen anyone or the turkey I thought to be so close. I didn't remember hearing the turkey run or fly. Something was wrong! I felt something strange, like a twig had gotten down my shirt and was irritating my back. I had been sitting in front of a ledge to conceal myself and had broken some twigs back away from my face before I started calling. I pulled out my shirttail and reached underneath it, expecting to feel the twig fall out. Instead, it felt warm and sticky. I pulled my hand from under my shirt, still feeling no pain, and looked in horror. Blood was dripping from my fingers! At that moment I realized I had been shot! Then the events of the previous evening returned to my mind. I remembered the thoughts I had while standing in front of the beer cooler. I remembered the feeling of dread, despair and urgency. What had I done? Now, here I was, standing in the middle of nowhere, 2 miles from from the nearest dirt road, with my life's blood pouring out. This was the way it was and I couldn't change it!
The first words out of my mouth were, (you guessed it) OH GOD! As reality sank in, I stood there convinced that this was to be the place that I would die. I thought about my life and what it had meant up to now...it wasn't much. I remember thinking, "If I could just go back to minutes ago I'd yell out and warn the guy that shot me". If I had only known! I don't know how long it took all these events to transpire. Everything was happening at once. That's when I thought to pray! Yes, pray! I didn't know how much good it would do, but I knew that nobody could help me but God Almighty. I very sincerely asked God to help me in this situation. At the very moment I called on Him He answered! I felt a wonderful sense of well-being and peace enshroud me as I prayed. I knew He was there to help me. I heard that still, small voice again, the one that's so hard to describe! This time I welcomed it with gladness. The Lord told me, and I quote, "You're going to be alright. It will take you a while to get over this, but you're going to be alright". I was filled, at that moment, with assurance that God was going to let me live! Nobody could ever convince me differently, regardless of the circumstances. I knew that I knew-because the Lord had told me! Then, everything started to make sense concerning the events of the evening before. God had put me in this place, where the only choice or recourse I had, was to call on Him! And boy was I glad to be able to! He was there! And boy did I ever need Him!
When I had yelled out "OH GOD", the guy that had shot me realized what he had done and saw that I wasn't a turkey. He came running to me in a panic. About the same time my buddy came running around the ridge to see what was going on. By this time, the numbness from the shot was subsiding and I began to hurt real bad. The bullet fired from a Winchester Model 94, 30/30 (a deer rifle) had hit one of my ribs just below my right lung and fragmented. Miraculously, the bullet had turned down instead of up, missing my right lung about 1/2". About a fourth of it had exited my back about 10" above my right pants pocket. This is what I felt and thought to be the twig underneath my shirt.
I stood there as the stranger approached me and my buddy came running from the opposite direction. They got to me, lifted my shirt and examined where I had been hit. The guy that fired the shot wanted me to walk out of the ridge to safety, seeing that I was still standing and able to walk. He was still in a panic. I had to do some talking to him to keep him settled down! Calmly, I explained that I was bleeding too badly to walk up the steep ridge. I insisted that I lie down on my rolled up shirt right where I was, while my buddy ran for help. I told them both then that the Lord had already told me that I was going to be alright. My buddy, not wasting any time, took off on the 2 mile trek. It was 8:25 a.m.
As I lay there, with the guy that shot me kneeling by my side in tears, I began to hurt intensely. It felt like someone had buried an axe in my ribs. He kept begging me not to die. I kept explaining that I wasn't going to because the Lord told me that I was going to be alright. The guy told me that day that if I got out of there alive and okay, he'd be in church every Sunday the rest of his life. I lay there for what seemed to be hours. I saw, in a quiet moment between conversation, that the guy was staring at the front of my cap. For no apparent reason, he reached down and pulled my cap from my head, took about two steps down the hill from me and threw it, like a frisbee over the hill. I asked him why he had taken my cap off. He explained that it was to make me more comfortable. It didn't make sense at the time. Later, after I thought about it, I was convinced that there was a bullet hole in the hat from the first shot. I went back about a year later to find the cap, but never did....
Anyway, the guys with the lifesaving crew arrived at about 10:30 with a stretcher and about a half-dozen men. I had to be carried up a steep incline for about 1/4 of a mile. The lifesaving crew had to borrow a 4-wheel drive Suburban (from the local funeral home to beat it all) to get as close as they could to where I was. After being carried up the hill, I rode the back of the Suburban to the awaiting ambulance which was two miles away. Arriving at the ambulance, I was still about 20 miles from the nearest hospital. Needless to say, I was in for a ride! I still knew that God wouldn't let me die!
We arrived at the hospital at 11:30 that morning. I was clinging to life and standing on what God had told me. The doctor frantically examined my condition. A nurse was constantly repeating my blood pressure to him. I heard her say, "seventy over zero". At that point the doctor stopped everything he was doing and yelled, "we gotta go now". I was rushed to the operating room. I remember seeing the lights on the ceiling go by so fast while the ER crew sped me down the hall on the gurney. I remember thinking that I hoped we didn't have any fast corners to turn or we would have a mess!
We reached the operating room and the orderlies lifted me over onto the cold operating table. A nurse finally got an IV in my arm that she had unsuccessfully attempted to do all the way from the ER on the run. I saw a tray of instruments come rolling in the door as the doctor stood over me. I had been relieved of my clothes during the examination in the ER. The surgeon picked up a scalpel and I watched him make an incision from my sternum to my navel before he ever tied up his mask. He stopped at my navel and started with another incision down to about my belt buckle. By this time the anesthesia was ready and I was put under.
I came out of surgery about 5 hours later. Prognosis... My liver had been shot to pieces. I had lost a kidney and about a foot of my large intestine. I had received 16 units of blood. I awoke in recovery. The day's event's started coming back to me. I was so glad to be alive! God had kept His word! It didn't matter that I had tubes and staples and stitches and bandages all over and in me. I didn't even mind the pain! I was alive! And for the first time in my life I felt more alive than ever before! I was so happy about what the Lord had done for me! It was then I realized that only Jesus can give meaning and purpose to life. I was somebody through Jesus Christ!
I was in the hospital for a long stay. I had numerous minor surgeries and developed a bad infection that brought me close to death. I went from around 170 pounds to 123. I couldn't eat and ran a high fever for weeks. But I never forgot the whole time what the Lord told me! The doctors began to be very concerned. I told them the same thing I told those guys the day I got shot. God said "You're going to be alright"!
Before I got really sick with the infection, probably 5 or 6 days after the accident, I asked my mother to bring my Bible to the hospital. I intended to start reading it diligently. She brought it to me. I didn't know where to start so I just opened it and started reading. Here's what I opened to and read: Job 5:17: Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: 18: For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.
I couldn't hardly believe my eyes as I read this. The Lord was actually speaking to me through His Word! Praise God for His mercy. By all rights He could have taken me out. But instead, He had mercy and grace. It was then that I began to realize that being a Christian is more than going to church to satisfy your conscience and heighten everyone's opinion of you. I realized that you go because you have a deep desire to go, because you love Him. You serve Him because you want to, not because you have to. Maybe you're asking this question, "Had you died that day, would you have gone to Heaven"? My answer... Without a doubt! Certainly! Definitely! Even though I was not in God's will He had mercy and bestowed His grace upon me. I know I was truly saved that night in my bed when I called on Him. Nobody, including myself, could take that away from me. I did however, have to suffer (and I did some heavy duty suffering) at God's chastising hand. I came to find that if we go without chastisement then we are bastards and not sons, Praise God! I'm glad He loved me enough to straighten me out! I want to thank Him again for His Mercy and Grace!
Hebrews 12-5: And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
6: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
7: If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
8: But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
9: Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
10: For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
11: Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Friend, if you're saved and living outside God's will, you're living on dangerous ground. God will be God regardless. We have to come to Him on His terms, and not on our own. If you think you're saved, but there's no conviction when you do wrong, or you're not suffering chastisement, you might want to examine your relationship with God. You are probably lost. Don't be willing to suffer like I did and have to be made to live a Godly life. God loves you enough to correct you if you belong to Him... If you are truly saved and living outside God's will, I urge you to repent and get into a good, fundamental, Bible-Believing church and read and study God's word. Then you'll be able to grow in His grace and knowledge. Let Him become Lord of your life. I hope this event in my life will help someone to be saved or have a better relationship with our Lord. I know God let me suffer these things for a purpose. I know I went through all this for a reason. I believe that reason is to be able to relate to you right now, even years later, the importance of Salvation, living for Him and putting Him first in your life. All this for His Glory and Honor... Praise His name!
Titus 2:11- For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
12: Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
13: Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
14: Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
God Bless Ya,
Brother Mike Elliott