I Thought My Hard Work Would Get Me Into Heaven

I'm Ken Herr and this is my story.

 

I guess you could call me a baby boomer. I was born into a booming country, just after World War II, where, by the time I was in grade school, almost everybody had a car and a television. I was told, like most children of my generation, that we should love God and our country, go to school, work hard and everything would be all right. I did all the right things, I said the pledge of allegiance, went to church, obeyed my parents (when they might find out) and knew that everything would work out okay. When things did not go right, well, I just needed to do something better or something more. If things seemed out of my control all I needed to do was ask God to help me - after all, I was told he is my heavenly father.

"Just like my earthly father," I thought, "God has a lot of things to do and, if he had time, he would help me out - the rest of the time I was on my own." I can handle this. I went to Sunday School and learned the bible verse from the book of John, chapter 3, verse 16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth on him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." I believed that Jesus lived, and died and rose on the third day, and all of the other things they teach you in Sunday School. I was baptized at the age of 8 and a faithful church member, so I've done everything right. I'm okay with God!

School, church, play, work -- life was okay -- most of the time. More work, less play, then marriage. Ann and I were married in our teens. Boy, was I on top of the world! Everybody said it wouldn't work, but we were determined to make it work. I knew that with enough work, we would make it -- no doubt about it. Over the next seven years we had three children. I mustn't forget to go to church - do the right thing for the kids, you know. It felt good to go to church -- most of the time. When that didn't feel good any longer, I'd just have to do more and better, and more and better. We taught Sunday School, brought neighborhood and less privileged kids to church on a bus, and sang in the choir. I must have done a good job, we had three good, bright children and I was offered a job that moved me from our home in St. Louis, Missouri, to Allentown, Pennsylvania, in the mid 70s. Finally, my chance to reap the benefits of all that hard work.

I felt like a pioneer - new hometown, new faces and a whole new set of people to impress. Of course, if I wanted to fit in, I had to behave like my new friends. " I'll get to church," I told myself, "but first I have to work a little harder." God will understand if I spend more time working -- after all, he sent me to Allentown and I was getting farther with hard work than ever before. But, I could only do so much.

During the heart of our young children's lives, we didn't have time for church, and our family and marriage began to fall apart. After all, we were married young and you know the statistics for early marriages, but we determined to work hard to stay together for the kids. As our children began to marry and leave home we recognized that we were headed for divorce. Our lives had been focused around our kids, but now the kids were leaving. Now what? We went to counseling just to be able to say "We tried". During counseling we realized that the last time we remember being happy was when we were in church. That's it! Go to church, that will solve it all!!

In 1991 we began attending the Lehigh Valley Baptist Church. Just like 20 years earlier, I began to work in church. At last, I was right where God wanted me. The more I worked in church, the better I would feel. Right?

WRONG!

From my childhood on, I knew everything that was important about church. I considered myself a good Christian. I knew all of the right things, could sing the songs, pray in public, but one thing was missing -- I didn't know God. Oh sure, I knew who God was. I knew all of the stories of the bible, I even memorized some Bible verses. But the bible says in the book of Titus, chapter 3, verse 5 "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us...".

It was during a time of deep spiritual searching that the one who knew me best, my wife Ann, told me that I couldn't help her find God because I didn't know God myself. What do you mean? I don't know God? Of course I do. I know all of these verses, I go to church all of the time, I sing in the choir. How could she say I don't know God? I knew I was struggling with God, but how did she know?

It was that evening, October 1, 1993, that I finally gave up trying. I couldn't do any more. I remembered that the Bible says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9. But God, I've done all of these good things, surely it's good enough.

That evening, I gave my life to God by finally surrendering my sinful life and accepting the total sacrifice offered by the death of his innocent son, Jesus. I finally realized that God did not need, or even want, my good works -- no man's work is good enough to meet God's standard of righteousness. Jesus gave his all for me, I own my all to Him. Earlier the same day, Ann had given herself to God and asked him to save her, too. "Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again" John 3:7. Ann and I were born again the same day.

God watched out for us for so many years, patiently awaiting the day that we would turn to Him. We deserved none of His blessings, but He protected us. Even though I turned my back on Him for my entire life, when I turned to Him, He was right there for me. Today, we are finally really happy. We have given our lives to God, and He has given us new lives, the reason for life. "He that hath the Son hath life, he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life." 1 John 5:12. I would love to tell you more of what Jesus Christ has done for me and how He has promised me eternal life.

 

If you would like to know more about the Savior that changed Ken's life, you are welcome to attend the

Lehigh Valley Baptist Church
4702 Colebrook Avenue
Emmaus, PA 18049

Or call us at (610) 965 4700 or 1-800-893-9586.

  •