It has been said that "everybody is somebody's fool." I am not any different than anyone else. I have always been a fool for something.
On July 31, 1967, I was sitting in the auditorium at Camp Chetek in Northern Wisconsin, listening to Dr. Eric Folsum preach a message from the Bible on Hell. He read scripture throughout the message that told about Hell being a place of everlasting torment prepared for those who never personally ask Jesus Christ to save them. At the close of the service he asked those who wanted to be saved to come forward and have someone show them from the Bible how to be saved and go to Heaven.
I felt very uneasy, and those scriptures on Hell were really convicting my heart. But, I couldn't walk down that aisle, why everyone knew that John Goetsch was a Christian. I had grown up in a Christian home, had gone to church and Sunday School all my life. I went to Vacation Bible School and Youth Camp every summer. I had been baptized and was a member of the Calvary Baptist Church in Watertown, Wisconsin. In fact, I was president of athe youth group in my church. But as I walked out of that auditorium that night, I could not get away from those scriptures on Hell.
That night and the next day I was miserable. I kept asking myself, "Am I going to Heaven or Hell?" Everyone else seemed to think I was going to Heaven, but I wasn't sure.
The following night, I couldn't listen to the preacher. I didn't hear a word he said. I kept asking myself over and over; am I really going to Hell? Again at the close of the service the invitation was given, but I couldn't seem to move. Something inside kept saying, "You're good enough, You're better than most of these other people, they are the ones that need to be saved," and I listened. Later that night we watched a gospel film. In the darkness of that room that night God began to speak in plain, simple terms to me. He said, "John, if you don't get saved, you are going to go straight to Hell, no matter what anyone else thinks, you are not saved!"
Right then I realized I had been a fool for the devil. He had tricked me into thinking that I had been good enough. As the film ended, I turned to a pastor who was sitting behind me and asked him if he would help me. Pastor Don Phaffe took me to a small room and there on my knees on August 1, 1967, at 10:30 p.m. I personally asked Jesus Christ to save me. I claimed Romans 10:13 which says: "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved," and Revelation 3:20, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in..." The Lord didn't trick me that night like the devil had. At that moment Jesus Christ forgave my sin and gave me everlasting life. No longer was I a fool for the devil.
I went back to high school that fall with real joy and peace in my heart knowing I was on my way to Heaven. During those high school years I became very active in athletics playing football, basketball, and track, and was achieving some success in all sports. By the time I reached my junior and senior years, I was completely wrapped up in sports, with little time for anything else.
One day in Sunday School my Youth Pastor asked us to write down some goals for our lives. My goal for High School was to make all-conference in football. For my College goal , I wrote down that I wanted to play College football, and for life my goal was to get into some facet of professional sports.
Things went well and my senior year I captained the football team to a 5 win and 3 loss record, quite respectable aince our high school had not won a single football game in three years prior to that. Offers began to come from various colleges asking me to play football. OUr basketball team was ranked 7th in the state of Wisconsin, and I was looking forward to breaking the school record in the shot put in track that spring. Sports was my god and I just didn't have time to serve Christ too.
On January 20, 1970, in the middle of my senior year, I was sitting in one of my classes and my chest began to hurt. I had never felt any pain like it before, but I put off thinking about it because we had an important game that night. The pain grew steadily worse that afternoon and evening and that night I played the worst basketball game I had ever played in my life. I disgraced myself and the team. Physically hurting and emotionally upset, I went home to bed. However, as soon as I laid down flat on my back, the pain became sharp. It seemed as if someone was taking a knife and cutting inside my chest.
At 3:00 a.m. the next morning my parents took me to the hospital. They put me in a bed and I stayed in that bed, unable to move, for the next 3 months. I had a virus of the heart sac. My heart sac was filled with poisonous liquid and was the size of a basketball. I missed the rest of my senior year, the rest of basketball, and all of the track season.
All of the time I was in that hospital I never read my Bible or prayed once. I was bitter against God because He had taken everything I had dreamed of away.
For the next two years I ran from God and rebelled at even the thought of surrendering my life to Him. I gradually worked my body back into condition until it was strong and completely healthy.
Three weeks prior to my first college football game, I felt the same pain in my chest I had felt two years before. The doctors, after two weeks of tests told me that I had an enlarged heart, almost two times the size it was supposed to be. They informed me that I would never play sports again.
I was crushed. All I had ever worked for was gone. I went back and told the coaches that I would never play again. As I walked across the practice field that morning I looked at the footballs lying there and walked away knowing I would never pick one up again. At that moment my heart broke and I gave my life to Christ. I told the Lord I had run from Him long enough and if He wanted my life, He could have it all.
I drove home and parked the car in the garage. My mother came running out and said, "John! John! you can play football!" I said, "No, the doctors told me this morning that I would never play again." She replied, "I know,but they just called. The tests were read wrong. You are perfectly healthy and can start playing tomorrow!" I bowed my head and thought, "If only I had been willing to give God my life two years ago when He wanted it..."
Though God allowed me to play 3 years of college football and 4 years of college basketball, I never again let myself be a fool for sports and put anything before Christ.
I went to Maranatha Baptist Bible College and it was while I was there that God called me to be a preacher and into Evangelism to help others, like you, find Christ as your Saviour and serve Him.
I Corinthians 3:18 says, "Let no man deceive himself, if any man among you seemeth to abe wise in this world, let him become a fool (for Christ), that he may be wise."
Today, friend, don't be a fool for the devil any longer. Right now in simple faith ask Jesus Christ to come into your heart and life, repent of your sin, and ask Him to give you eternal life.
If you have been saved, don't be a fool to the temporal things of this life. Dedicate your life to your Saviour and be a fool for Him.
This article originated on The Salvation Online Network