During my summers as I was growing up, I would go to live with my uncle in a desolate area of Northwest Pennsylvania. I loved it because I could do all the hunting and fishing my heart desired. As far as my uncle was concerned, he was a very very different man than anyone could imagine. What made him so different was the fact that he had been a POW in WWII.
I grew up pretty much as the all-american kid. I turned down both full athletic and academic scholarships. My picture was regularly in the paper for sports and I had finished at the top of my science classes. I had a great set of parents and never experienced any kind of abuse.
I chose not to go to college, and instead joined the Marine Corps. At the age of 19, I accepted Jesus Christ as my LORD and Saviour. I had often wondered why I had such an emotional and dramatic salvation experience. I was not a drug addict, nor was I addicted to alcohol or anything else — so I thought. This question of the magnitude of my experience would pop up many times in my mind as I gave my testimony multiple times throughout my life: Why did I have such an experience with all the tears and sobbing? After I accepted Christ, I felt I was floating in air as if I was detached from my body.
I was just asked to give my testimony again at a men’s breakfast. This time, I dug my feet in and sought the reason for the salvation experience I had. The Holy Spirit led me to the following portion of Scripture in my quest for answers:
“Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord . Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:17-21 NLT)
After reading the above Scripture, my jaw dropped and understanding flooded my mind. The reason for my dramatic salvation experience was that the poison of revenge was completely draining from my body. Only Jesus Christ could of taken it away. Let me explain.
My uncle had been the most revengeful man I ever met in my life. He had taught me how to be revengeful and was the reason I became addicted to revenge. His form of revenge was the worst kind because it was a secretive type of revenge. It was a gorilla warfare revenge.
I will tell you of one instance of his revenge. A man he had worked with on a construction site said something about my uncle that did not go to well with him, but my uncle did not show it. It was years before they worked together again. When they finally did, my uncle methodically picked up a very long piece of reinforcing rod and walked by a high ladder this man was working on. The other end of the reinforcing rod was whipping as it finally passed the bottom of the ladder and knocked the ladder out from under the man. This man fell, breaking bones upon impact. My uncle came running back to him and feigned deep concern.
Before I came to Christ, I kept all my thoughts of revenge deep inside. I acted out the revenge without letting it be known I was taking revenge. I was extremely calculating.
Even though I got revenge, I did not realize it but I was storing up a poison that was slowly killing me from within. It was so deep, I did not even realize what was inside of me. Revenge may of tasted sweet at first, but it turned to bitterness in my soul.
After I was saved, my whole being was transformed. I became just the opposite of what I was before. I learned to totally hand over those people and those things that came against me in life. I learned to adapt the following Scripture as a way of life to the best of my ability with the Lord’s help:
“The Lord rewarded me for doing right; He restored me because of my innocence. For I have kept the ways of the Lord ; I have not turned from my God to follow evil. I have followed all His regulations; I have never abandoned His decrees. I am blameless before God; I have kept myself from sin. The lord rewarded me for doing right. He has seen my innocence. To the faithful You show Yourself faithful; to those with integrity You show integrity.” (Psalms 18:20-25 NLT)
Time after time when people did me wrong, I made the conscious decision to hand it over to my LORD. For the past 38 years, I could write a book on how the LORD took over and how things turned out better with things in His hands than if I kept things in my own hands. He has blessed me over and over again with things in His control.
So please join me by learning to hand things over to the LORD and allowing Him to handle it His way. He sure can do a much better job of handling things His way than we can ever dream of if we continue to do it our way!