I became a follower of Jesus on November 23, 1978. A close friend, who himself had just come to be a Christian, listened patiently as I shared the difficulties I was having in my former marriage and the sense of hopelessness that I felt. Without wasting time or words, my friend told me boldly yet gently that I needed to confess my failures to Jesus and ask for forgiveness of my sins. In my desperation it was made crystal clear to me that this message was true and I needed God to help me. So, on that day before Thanksgiving, 1978, I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and fix my marriage. Immediately a sense of peace and joy came over me and I was filled with an inner assurance that something had truly changed in my soul.
Immediately after my friend handed a Bible to me and said I should start reading it. I read for some 15 hours straight seeking to understand more of what it was that God did to me and in me. Never before was the book of Romans more alive to me than in those hours immediately following my conversion. I still recall the profoundly penetrating passage of Romans 7:14-25, and can recount most of it by memory to this day.
Despite my joy in knowing Jesus and experiencing the new life he gave me, my former wife made it clear she wanted nothing to do with my new “religion.” After approximately six months she deserted me and filed for divorce. The last day I saw her was the first day I abandoned my Christian commitment and began wandering in the desert of despair. Little did I know that the very hope I had in God fixing my marriage would become the means of its demise. After all, why follow Christ if this is where it leads? Deep down, however, I knew that I was not living in accordance with my commitment to Christ and a tremendous amount of cognitive and existential dissonance was my daily lot for almost 3 years. Despite the wanton lifestyle that I lived seeking to fill the hole in my heart, the angst simply grew greater with each pitiful day that I lived for my nerve endings and psyche.
“But God, who is rich in mercy,” introduced me to my present wife in April, 1981. While on our second date I shared my experience of becoming a Christian and, through a series of circumstances, God graciously drew her to himself. One evening in July, 1981, she was discouraged and confused over God’s tug on her heart after reading that same passage that years earlier tugged on my heart, Romans 7:14-25. Without wasting time or words, I said to her that she needed to confess her failures to Jesus and ask for his forgiveness. The truth of this message became immediately evident to her and, as she pleaded with Jesus to be her Savior, I knelt at her side and re-dedicated my life to Jesus as Lord.
We married two months later and have, by God’s sustaining grace, steadily been growing closer to one another and to Jesus. Since that day in July we have remained committed, however imperfect, to God’s kingdom purposes on earth as they are in heaven. Our marriage is based upon mutual submission to one another under the Lordship of Christ. When either of us fail in our responsibilities (and we do), the other graciously seeks to restore the relationship under the influence of God’s Spirit and with the guidance of God’s Word. Gradually but certainly God is finishing the work he began in our lives through the glorious Gospel of Christ. To this end we are called and to this end we shall, by His power, continue.
Pressing on toward the goal,
Paul D. Adams