Be watching at all times, therefore, and praying that you will be worthy to escape from these things which are going to occur, and to stand before The Son of Man. Luke 21:36

“You are worthy.” The most powerful three words I ever heard…

I sang as a child, and all through my youth. I grew up listening to and harmonizing with my Irish mother who had a beautiful voice and had been a singer from her youth. I learned to accompany myself upon the acoustic guitar and began entertaining crowds as a young boy. I sang in many a venue including gymnasiums, auditoriums, sanctuaries, cathedrals and stadiums.

I excelled in my studies throughout all my school years, “acing” tests and never failing to qualify for advanced classes and placement. I had been raised to believe in God, the Christian God. The first half of my ‘teens found me devoted to learning the Scriptures. I memorized large sections of the Bible, setting many passages to music. By the age of 14 I was studying koiné Greek with a seminary student. Most of my friends were much older than I was. I sat at the feet of many a Bible scholar, elder and sage, learning doctrine and dogma. I debated, casually and formally, with any and all on the subject of religion. I canvassed many a surrounding neighborhood, reading Christian “tracts” to unsuspecting homeowners and leading them in the repeat-after-me “prayers” on the backs of the leaflets.

I raised and rode horses, attended church camps, was a member of “Y” Indian Guides, joined Civil Air Patrol, hunted, skied and so much more! I graduated high school a year early and went to work at a local hospital, considering a career in medicine. My childhood was less than idyllic, however. I had been haunted from my earliest memories by very dark forces. My multiple encounters with and frequent visitations by evil spirits had instilled in me a state of constant dread. Terms commonly used today to describe my experiences, such as “night terrors” and “sleep paralysis”, were unknown during my childhood. None of the leaders, advisors or counsellors in my life could explain what was happening to me, let alone assist me in doing anything about it. I wanted to be free of the terror, and all those around me either refused to believe any of it was real, or were too frightened to intercede on my behalf. A breaking point was approaching…

My parents divorced when I was 16. I yearned to resolve my dissatisfaction with the status quo and loose the pent-up rebellion and growing lusts within me. My dad’s breach of the marriage covenant he had made with my mom was just the excuse I needed. I turned my back on my upbringing and my family. I turned my back on what I knew of God, as well. I turned to the very darkness which I had been terrified of, that darkness that had been calling me and which now (seemingly) welcomed me with outstretched arms. Oh, little did I know…

I thought things, saw things, said things and did things that were not simply abhorrent and abominable, but the likes of which most people don’t believe to even be possible. I participated in the so-called human potential movement of the ’70s (EST, LifeSpring), which opened the doors to witchcraft and demonic possession. I plumbed the depths of Eastern religions, both old and new, and quickly learned I didn’t need the crutches or gimmicks of tarot cards, crystal balls, candles, incense, rituals, chants/mantras and the like to wield so-called supernatural power. I bypassed all that silliness and went directly to the demons for whatever I needed. Fortune telling, natural knowing, remote viewing, levitation, telekinesis, astral projection, soul travel, etc… I did it all… and more. In lieu of attending university, I traveled as an entertainer, living the life of a “starving musician.” In truth, I was simply another a liar, thief, fornicator, adulterer, sorcerer, medium, warlock, necromancer and blasphemer. In 5 short years I experienced what, for many, might take a lifetime, should they live so long.

My mother was at her wits end as she witnessed the life of her eldest son, now 21 years of age, become representative of all things evil. Unbeknownst to me she had reached out to three other women, also mothers, who would pray with her. In desperation and importunity she cried out to God for “the renewing of (‘my son’s’) mind” (Romans 12:2) along with reminding and imploring upon God that “what He had begun in (her son) He would complete (Philippians 1:6).”

During a visit with my mother, just a few short weeks after she had started praying with these women, she asked me to sing her one of the songs I had composed as a boy. It was a Psalm I had simply set to music. Hoping to escape her request, I suggested that I could not remember the words. She surprised me by handing me my old Bible, the one I had studied in my youth. Reluctantly, I opened the book and sang the words of Psalm 46, nearly choking on the passage,

Cease striving and know that I am God… Psalm 46:10

It was as though the words jumped off the page, came to life and specifically targeted me. I understood them as:

“STOP fighting me! I AM THAT I AM!!!”

I managed to finish the song, but I knew was in trouble.

A few days later, while showering, I heard a voice from behind me. I had heard plenty of voices by this time in my life, and I immediately knew this voice was like no other! It was certainly not the voice of the young woman, yet another young woman with whom I was fornicating, with me in the shower. This voice was near-deafening in volume, but did not hurt to listen to. It was a multi-timbral voice, having a resonance I had never heard in my life… It had the depth of the roar of a waterfall mixed with the soul-shaking sounds of the ocean surf crashing into the sides of the Earth, with the volume of thunder, yet was as articulate as a whisper.

As clear as a trumpet, I heard the words,

What if all these things* concerning this Jesus* are true?

Feeling as though the blood had just been drained from my body, I turned to face the One who was speaking, fully expecting to look God Himself in the eye, but the face of a woman screaming at the top of her lungs (within a small shower stall) was all I then saw… and heard. We scrambled out of the shower and out of the bathroom. The young woman was crying, “I thought you were dead! You looked dead!” (Little did she realize!)

The implications of that question were overwhelming… all that Jesus was and is… the prophecies about Him, His birth, life, suffering, death, burial resurrection and ascension… His interactions with His disciples, the crowds and the religious leaders, His miracles, His teachings… and everything He said and did…

And yet, I wasn’t thinking about all that Jesus said and did. Over the next 3 days passage after passage of Scripture was quickened to my memory: Thou shalt not {insert my actions, here}, Touch not the unclean thing, Be holy as I am holy, and dozens more. The more verses that ran through my thoughts, the clearer the inescapable message became: God was God and I was a sinner!

As an awareness of my guilt before God increased, a weight I had never experienced in my 21 years began to crush me. It was not a physical weight and yet it eventually bent me into a heap upon the floor.

I saw the sum total of my life to date, all of my accomplishments along with each and every transgression, as though it all amounted to an ink stain upon God’s pure white linen. A voice, a very particular voice with the tone of a prosecutor leveled charge after charge against me, and every charge was true:

The wages of sin is death… Romans 6:23

The soul who sins shall die. Ezekiel 8:4,20

…All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags… Isaiah 64:6

I was suddenly keenly aware of (almost hypersensitive to) a standing requirement: that of the righteousness of God. The best I had done didn’t measure up! At this point there was little need to recall the worst I had done and, yet, every detail of my life was included in the flashback. I knew that Jesus had said,

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes on Him should not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16

In fact, I was fully aware of dozens of verses and hundreds of sermons that talked about God’s love, God’s forgiveness and God’s salvation…

For the first time in my life I saw the “perish” part of that verse… and I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that, regardless of the number of transgressions (however severe) I had committed, or the lack thereof: in my unbelief I was condemned to death and I deserved it!

…because of the disobedience of one man the many became sinnersRomans 5:19

As in Adam all die… ICorinthians 15:22

I was guilty and I had been convicted. I began to sob uncontrollably. Not because I felt sorry for myself… not even because I knew I was about to die… but because I was actually sorry. I was truly sorry for my arrogance, my stiff neck and my hard heart. I was sorry that God would need to expend another moment on me.

For grief that is for God’s sake produces a remorse of the soul that leads to salvation without regret, but the grief of the world produces death. 2Corinthians 7:10

Lest you think I was simply suffering from poor self esteem, let me assure you that few men ever walked the Earth more full of themselves than my most accomplished and confident 21-year-old self! No, this was the TRUTH being revealed to me. If “All these things concerning this Jesus are true” (and I had an increasing awareness and knowledge that they were), then I was toast!

I saw what I was so clearly that I had no desire to throw myself upon the mercy of the court and beg God for mercy. I simply awaited my execution, crumpled on the floor, my face in my hands, sobbing in sorrow…

I heard the screen door open and the footsteps of someone draw near, stopping directly in front of me. For a time I was unable to push my face off the floor but, once I did, I then struggled to see clearly as my eyes were full of tears. The feet of the person standing in front of me looked blurry but glowed, almost golden-yellow in color. I wiped my eyes but it didn’t change the appearance of his feet. It was like staring into a campfire and trying to affix my gaze upon that place where the flame dances on the logs… only His feet were not burning.

I immediately knew Who was standing before me!

In addition to bare feet, the ones that looked like some combination of molten metal meets flaming-yet-not-burning wood, He wore a white garment that resembled a robe made what appeared to be a very thick cloth. But what immediately caught my eye was His right hand extended down to me. The moment I took His hand (well… what would you have done!) I found myself staring directly into His face. As the voice I had heard a mere three days earlier was thunderous but not painful, the face I was now looking into shone like the brightness of the sun but, unlike the sun, it didn’t hurt to look at. Also differing from the sun, it was a white light, not yellow.

He looked right through me and I knew He saw everything… I knew that He knew everything about me, from my birth forward. And I knew He forgave me… And He loved me… I knew that He loved me! How could I know those thing? As impossible as it may sound, I not only knew those things, but I knew those things so completely that there was no question that I knew those things!

As He was looking at me and clasping my hand in His, He spoke three words to me, words that resonated throughout my body:

You are worthy!

I believed I was deserving of death, but that is not what He said to me. He didn’t confirm what I believed by executing me! Instead, in an instant, as He spoke those words that crushing weight of guilt that had driven me, sobbing, to the floor was gone… Whoosh! Just like that! The voice of the prosecutor was silenced (I never heard that voice again… not ever!). I don’t know how long I kneeled there in front of Him, my hand in His, staring into His glorious face, being known and forgiven and loved. He did not let go and walk away. He simply faded from my view.

…I was found by those who sought me not Isaiah 65:1

I was not looking for Him. He interrupted the course of my life and everything changed.

You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you John 15:16

Clearly He chose me. I did not choose Him. He had a completely different plan for my life than what I had in mind.

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. Matthew 9:13, Mark 2:17, Luke 5:32

Yep! That was me. That had been me, all along, though I had refused to see it.

the Messiah died for the sake of our sins… 1Corinthians 15:3

Jesus didn’t merely die…

Here God demonstrates his love for us, because if when we were sinners, the Messiah died in our place, how much more therefore, would we all the more be justified now by his blood and be saved from wrath by him? Romans 5:8-9

He died in my place, that place I had come to see was reserved for and deserved by me.

..the One died in the place of every person; so then every person died with him. 1Corinthians 5:14

Legally, since He died for me, on behalf of me, in my place, then I died with Him.

For whoever is dead has been freed from sin. Romans 6:7, 1Peter 4:1

I had been released, set free to fully realize who I was… who I was in my own eyes, who I was in the accuser’s eyes and, most importantly, who I was in God’s eyes. God’s judgement of me was now all that mattered. He set me free. I was free to repent, to turn away from all that is in the world. I was free to turn to Him. I was free to follow Him. 

And I knew what this meant:

…I have been crucified with The Messiah, and from then on I myself have not been living, but The Messiah is living in me, and this that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of The Son of God, he who has loved us and has given himself for us. Galatians 2:20

He said I was worthy and I believed Him. And then I knew what this meant:

…Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:3, Galatians 3:6, James 2:23

And now I know what this means:

My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow Me. John 10:27

As well as this:

…Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts… Hebrews 3:7-8


* = {all these things} In less than a moment, as He asked me the simple question that completely altered my life, a massive list of “things” were brought to my mind. Everything I knew about the Living God, from Scriptures to life experiences, was  condensed into “all these things.” – I knew exactly what He meant.

* = {this Jesus} Acts 1:10-11 “…two men were present standing with them in white clothing. And they were saying to them, “Galilean men, why are you standing and gazing into the sky? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into Heaven shall come in this way…” – and I knew exactly Who He was referring to.”