In the spring of 1976 I was on an outdoor education 3-day fieldtrip with a handful of fellow SIU classmates. I had gotten too much sun that day canoeing down the Eleven Point River in southern Missouri. The river was fed by a deep giant billowing spring. Only canoes were allowed on the river and there was no road access for the two days of canoeing. Eagles had flown overhead in the blue sky that day and the water sparkled crystal clear to the bottom of the stream. By evening my skin was burning red from the intense exposure to the sun and as that bright day turned into a dark night my body became raked with chills. I started to experience, what I later referred to as a SON stroke, the likes of which I had never known before. I had been a worshiper of the creation, not of the creator. At the float camp that night I hurried off to my lonesome sleeping bag, which was a few hundred yards from the others. The waves of shivers continued to pulse through my body until I feared for my very life. In panic I tried to callout for help but I could not even speak. My body had become as stiff as a board yet I was experiencing quaking tremors like the planks of an old wooden bridge when cars drive over them. I felt pinned to the ground like a moth caught in a spider's web yet I was conscience of not only the physical realm but also becoming increasingly aware of a spiritual reality never known to me before. I could hear voices and sounds of the deep darkness; it was full of words of hatred, condemnation, violence, and all that is evil. As my heart nearly pounded out of my chest for fear of death and abandonment into hell I prayed for God to save me but I sensed no answer. I feared that I would die separated from all that is good to an eternal existence in the company of all that is vial and corrupt.
I pleaded to God, "I have known you since my youth please save me from this fate." In my mind I heard his reply, "I never knew you. Depart from me you that work iniquity." I for the first time realized that my acknowledgement of Christ and even verbal homage was not the reality of a new birth. I had never surrendered my life or will to His lordship. I had sixteen years of perfect attendance Sunday school pins but I was never truly saved. Six years earlier I had become angry with God and those that represented Him. Since then I had only been back to Church for weddings and funerals. I hardly read His word and only prayed when in distress and I wondered why he didn't answer me. I was living a life of rebellion and by my own rules. I pleaded for forgiveness of my sinful and foolish life. I asked God if He would save me from destruction, that what life He might grant me, I would live with Christ as my Lord. Immediately the sound of evil was silenced like the stilling of a storm. My body stopped shivering and went as limp as a damp rag. God had given me a new life to live for Him, to grow in love and obedience to Christ and His Word. This was my calling to a new life. I was not seeking God's way but my own way, which was the path to destruction. It was He that chose to reveal to me my prognosis of death. All I had to offer to Him was a life that only He could grant to me by grace. By His mercy I was called out of darkness and am now his possession.