MY LIFE AND ATTITUDES BEFORE FOLLOWING CHRIST.

I grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, but spent the majority of my adult life living across the country, from one ocean to the other. I did pretty much whatever I wanted to do, with little regard for anyone else, and without giving Christ any credit. God had blessed me with an abundance of physical and mental ability. I was an extremely arrogant young man with interests that were centered around sports and sensual pleasure.

HOW I REALIZED GOD WAS SPEAKING TO ME.

In 1961 I was baptized, but did not at that time make a commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Growing up in a praying Christian family I heard the Gospel many times, but it never got hold of me. I proceeded to live any way I wanted, figuring that being baptized meant I was a Christian, and assured of going to heaven. I reaLized God was speaking to me, and he really got my attention when I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease on 9-9-69.

The diagnosis was Hodgkins Disease stage 4A in the summer of that year. More times than not stage 4A is fatal. I entered Yale New Haven Hospital which was using an experimental three stage treatment program for Hodgkins disease. It consisted of a stage of pills, starting with 15 a day for awhile, then 12, then 9, then 6. The second stage involved regular cobalt radiation treatment. The last stage was chemotherapy and needles, sometimes administered in the hospital overnight. This schedule was to be repeated three times, or for three cycles.

Just as I knew I was ill before the diagnosis, I knew I was healed before the treatment was completed. Against the advice and direction of doctors and parents I ended the treatment after the second cycle. I was told that if I lived 5 years, they were reasonably assured that the disease was in remission. I was never told that I was cured until 1985.

HOW I BECAME A CHRISTIAN.

He finally got through to me 10-13-85 through the preaching of Pastor David Durham. A friend invited me to Mt. Sinai Baptist Church where the Holy Spirit said "this is your church home". During the sermon the Holy Spirit said "you've run long enough, it's time to come home." I had to stop committing the sin of trying to control my own life. It scared me when I was informed that sin's penalty was separation from God for now and eternity. It brought tears to my eyes when it sunk in that Christ paid the penalty for sin when he took my sin to the cross, accepted the judgement for it, and made it possible for me to be accepted by God.

Receiving Christ meant acknowledging I was a sinner, accepting forgiveness from Him, inviting him in to enter my life as Lord and Saviour, and trusting him to do for me the things I could never do for myself.

WHAT BEING A CHRISTIAN MEANS TO ME.

I'm not perfect, just on the right track. I'm not without problems, I just have resources to handle them that I didn't have before. I now have Jesus on my side, and my problems are not mine when I give them to Him. II Corinthians 12:9 makes sense now when God tells us through the Apostle Paul "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

My purpose in life is to glorify God, and to be a witness to what He can do with a converted and committed life. I desire to learn and do God's will, through prayer, faith, study, and application. I spend more time doing work for the Lord and not for man. I pray more and I am more mindful of being a better steward of God's money. I'm not afraid to die anymore because I know how fragile and temporary this human body is and that this earth is not my home. I understand what the Apostle Paul meant when he said in Philippians 1:21 "For to me to live [is] Christ, and to die [is] gain."

I am just a pilgrim passing through on my way home to Heaven. Christian friends greatly help the journey with fellowship and prayer. My level of tolerance is much higher, minimizing the frustrations. Failure on my part represents an opportunity for God to display his power. I'm truly thankful now for the little things, like being able to see the sun shine, and to hear the birds sing.

Unto Him be the glory, for now and always.

Claude Joyner