by Wendell Evans
Some time after my eighth birthday, I became dimly aware of my need for personal salvation. Let me share in detail how it came about because I love this story.
When we had family devotions, both Dad and Mom would read the Scriptures. At one point, Dad gave strong emphasis to the ten commandments. When he taught the commandment against taking the Lord’s name in vain, I was smitten with conviction. I was attending a one-room country school, and some of the older guys were quite adept at swearing. I had never heard such language from any of my relatives or from any of my friends at our little Baptist church.
Hearing those words every day at school began to take its toll. Those horrible words lodged in my eight-year-old brain, and when I lost my temper, I would swear, too—never where anyone could hear, but I was still doing it. I don’t know how many times I used God’s name in vain. I would guess it was ten times, but I was under terrific conviction about the matter because of Dad’s teachings in family devotions.
One instance stands out clearly in my memory. Dad had given me a baby pig which was more or less my own, but the pig was raised with all the other Chester Whites (our breed of swine) on our pig lot. Now I wanted my pig to get the lion’s share of the food from the trough. Whenever possible, I would drive the others away from the trough, and then mine could have a feast. My hope was that he would achieve great size and therefore bring me a fat check when I sold him.
On one occasion, larger pigs crowded mine from the trough, and he couldn’t get a bite. I was so angry that I swore at the greedy pigs. Of course, I was pretty greedy, too! I wanted a fat check from selling a fat pig! This time I swore out loud! Oh, how upset I became—not with the pigs now, but with myself.
It was the fall of 1943, and September was winding down. On the last Sunday morning of September, a girl of my age, Iona Holmberg, stayed after church. Pastor Wiens led her to Christ. I was standing outside the front door of the old white framed church when she came out after praying the sinner’s prayer. She was crying as she left the church, but it seemed that the light of Heaven was on her face!
I thought, “The next time Pete gives an invitation for salvation, I’m going forward and talk to him. I need what that girl has.”
The following Sunday was October 3, 1943. That night I went forward during the invitation. I doubt if there were 65 people in the service, and I was the only one who responded to the invitation. I’m sure that Brother Wiens probably used several verses, but I remember only Acts 2:21 which says, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
I’m sure Brother Wiens had no difficulty in convincing me that I was a sinner. The Holy Spirit had convicted me so heavily about my swearing that I was eager to accept Christ. Brother Wiens and I prayed, and I went home with Mom and Dad.
Family devotions were quite different that night! That scene is one of my sweetest memories. We were in the parlor of our big farm house. As I pen these words, that precious memory is more than 75 years in the past, but I remember what Dad said as if it took place 55 seconds ago. He said, “Son, Momma and I will no doubt go on to Heaven before you do. (They have.) But because of your decision tonight, we will all be together in Heaven some day!”
As I write these words, tears of joy mist my eyes again. Thank God for consistent Christian parents! I know that skeptics will feel that I am romanticizing this whole experience, but let me tell you the whole thing is very, very real to this old man! It stands out to me like nothing else in my childhood. Pearl Harbor pales into insignificance. Our purchase of our first tractor becomes unimportant. The picturesque Pickerel Lake Farm fades from memory. Our move to the Lundeen farm seems unimportant, even though we would make that our home for many years.
I shall never forget the autumn of 1943 after I accepted Christ as my personal Saviour. As I walked those country roads, it seemed to me that the meadowlark had a sweeter song than I had ever heard before! The goldenrod had never been so beautiful. The azure of the sky exceeded anything my eyes had ever seen in my brief existence. I knew that I was on my way to Heaven! My sins were all forgiven! Wow! No wonder that was such a beautiful autumn in Northwest Iowa!
Photo by Christopher Carson on Unsplash