The morning of November 8,1967, at 9:30 A.M., the amplified sound of the principals voice broke the silence of the classrooms at my elementary school. The principal, Mr. Henderson, asked the teacher to release all four Turnbow children from class and have them come to his office. When the four of us arrived at the office, Mr. Henderson met us and simply told us that he and the school nurse were going to drive us home. There was no explanation why. All the way to our house, neither Mr. Henderson nor the nurse said anything. The silence in the car was ominous; we just knew something was terribly wrong at home. And we were right.
There are fourteen children in my family. I am number eleven. There were nine of us children still living at home in 1967. Eight months previously, my parents had gotten a divorce, because my mother could know longer tolerate the physical abuse by my dad. After my parents divorce, my dad started harassing my mother, threatening to kill her for divorcing him. Surely he couldnt have actually done it I thought. As the principals car turned the final corner toward home, my heart sunk. Dads red pickup truck was parked in the driveway, right behind mothers rambler station wagon. There were police cars everywhere, and the four of us burst into tears.
The principal drove us to our neighbors house across the street from our house. As we stepped out of the car, news reporters with their cameras were taking pictures and people were standing about on their lawns, staring at us. My older sister, Nita who stayed at home to baby sit the two youngest children while my mother worked, came rushing out of the neighbors house to hurry us inside, away from the crowd.
She sat us down on the couch and told us that our daddy had shot and murdered our mother, then killed himself. I was stunned. It was as if someone had jabbed a knife into my heart. I started crying again and wept until I had no tears left. It was my worst nightmare come to life. I just wanted to run away, escape, and make it all not real. I was eight years old.
A couple of weeks later, after my parents funerals, I finally went back to school. And that day on the playground I met a little girl and her brother. They were new students, and we quickly became friends. As we walked home together after school, the little girl started asking me how I felt about what my dad did to my mother. I had built up a lot of anger toward my father in the short time since his death, and I assured the girl that I was going to hate my dad forever. I could never, ever forgive him for what he did.
The little girl asked me if I would come home with her to meet her mother. Why not? I thought to myself. There is not anybody waiting for me at home anymore.
As we entered the living room, the girl called for her mother to come and meet "the little girl from the newspaper." She continued yelling to her mother, "She says shes going to hate her dad forever."
Well, the little girls mother came rushing out of the bedroom and into the living room right away. She sat me down on the couch and put her arm around me and said, "Oh no, honey, you need to forgive your dad for what he did." It would take me years to realize the wisdom of her words.
In 1982, almost fifteen years later, while leafing through a local Christian yellow pages, I came across an article called "The Six Steps to Salvation," a simple outline of how to receive Jesus Christ into your heart. I skimmed through the article and quickly concluded that it did not apply to me. Besides, I was a person of good moral values and had been reared by a loving, caring Christian mother, and we regularly went to church. So I really did not think I needed Jesus in my heart.
Then about two weeks later, I had a terrible nightmare in which I was shoveling coal into hells furnace while this red devil watched over me. When I woke up from this dream, I knew exactly what I had to do. I got up out of bed, grabbed the Christian yellow pages, ran into the bathroom, and knelt down on the rug on the floor. I read through "The Six Steps to Salvation" again, and when I came to the last step, it said, "Now just admit to God you are a sinner."
It was at that point I realized I was a sinner. Even though I had been a "good" person all my life, I still needed Jesus in my heart. Even though my sins were smallgossiping, telling an occasional white liewithout Jesus in my heart, I was as far away from God as the most brutal murderer. Suddenly my dream about shoveling in hell made sense: In my own way I was unknowingly serving Satan, not God.
Well, I asked God for forgiveness that morning, and His mercy poured out on me. Jesus met me right where I was, and I accepted Him into my heart. I was His. There was no turning back.
A year later, in 1983, I was watching a Christian show on television, and there was this woman telling the story of a tragic family camping trip. She and her husband had slept in one tent, and her children, two teens and a five-year-old daughterhad slept in another. During the night, someone cut a slit in the childrens tent and pulled out the youngest daughter, kidnapping her. The woman said that when she woke up and discovered what had happened, she cried out to God to please help her and her family find their daughter. The police explained to her that the chances of the girl being alive werent good, but she told God that she needed to know where her daughter waseven if she was dead. She also asked God to tell her who it was that took her daughter.
God answered her prayers. They found the daughter, raped and murdered, and soon caught the man who had violated her and sent him to prison. After the funeral and the trial, and with the murderer safely behind bars, the family thought they would finally be able get on with their lives. However, before long the woman had the strong sense that the Lord wanted her to forgive the man for what he did to their daughter. And not only forgive him, but befriend him and reach out to him. Murders need Jesus too, not just good people.
Difficult as this was for her, she started visiting the man in prison. They started having bible studies, and the man did later accept Jesus in his heart. His life started changing because that woman and her husband obeyed God.
As I watched the program, it dawned on me that I was carrying around a lot of anger and bitterness. I realized that I needed to forgive my dad for murdering, mother and killing himself. So I turned off the television and went to my bedroom and knelt down on the floor on the side of the bed. I started weeping and crying out to God, saying, "Lord, forgive me for not forgiving my dad."
I asked the Lord to let my dad know that I forgave him, and that I loved him, too. Then a voice within me said, "No, you tell him yourself, just as if he were here listening." So I did.
I said out loud, "Daddy, I forgive you for killing mother and yourself and for all the other mean things you did, too." I continued on, "And, Daddy I love you." I couldnt believe the words were coming out of my mouth, because in all the eight years I had spent with him, he never once told me he loved me. He never even gave me a hug.
Its sad to me that I had to learn to love my dad after he was dead and gone. But once I had forgiven him, by Gods grace I was able to really start growing in my faith and moving on with my life. Like the woman whose daughter was murdered, I had experienced the incredible power of forgiveness. My dad was wrong for what he did, and there is no excuse for his action. I can never turn back the hands of time, but in spite of my familys tragedy, I am able to look forward and make the most of all God has given me. I am called to help others find their way to knowing God, to help them break up the fallow ground in their hearts and turn away from the sin that destroys their lives and often the lives of those they love.
How can you begin your journey toward knowing God the Father? Surprisingly, its pretty simple. First you must realize that you are nothing without God. An empty shell, and you need His Son, Jesus, who died on the cross for your sins. It doesnt matter who you arerich or poor, skinny or fat, a good person or a bad person, male or female, young or old, black or white, a movie star or just Jane Doe. Romans 3:23 says we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Like me, you may need to forgive someone for the wrong he or she has done to you before you can fully accept Gods forgiveness. Or maybe, you just need to forgive yourself for the wrong things you have done to yourself and others. We serve a big God, and there is no sin that you or I have committed that is bigger than Him and His forgiveness. Matthew 6:14-15 is just one of the many passages of Scripture that shows how important it is to forgive. : "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." So as you can see, it is very important to forgive those who have wronged you.
Ephesians 4: 30-32 says, " And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed until the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ sake has forgiven you."
Lets take this a step further. Imagine a roadblock. You know, the kind with the ember flashing lights. Youve seen them on the side of the road in construction areas. Now imagine the roadblock as sin that stands between you and your relationship with God. Each orange stripe represents a sin that separates you from God. Take a moment and think about what sins you commit, that keep you from having a relationship with Him. It could be a job, a relationship, murder, lying, cheating, stealing, adultery, fornication, gossiping, anger, hate, bitterness, money, unforgiveness, backstabbing, envy, and so on. You have to call it for what it is, sin is sin and you cannot candy coat the word. Face your roadblock of sin head on, instead of making excuses, its time to lay it all down before the one Man Jesus, who will never ever turn His back on you. No matter what your sin is, God will forgive you and still want a relationship with you. Gods Word says that if you will draw close to Him, He will draw close to you. After all, Hes loved you from before you were born.
You are the King of Kings son or daughter, what are you doing standing on a street corner selling yourself short of all of all the riches that your Heavenly Father has for you? Sticking a needle in your arm hoping just one more drug high will make you forget all the hurt and misery your trying to cover up and forget about. No man or material possessions will ever satisfy the inner peace your really looking for in this world. Only one man can, He is Jesus Christ the Son of God.
A relationship with your heavenly Father is much easier than you may think. Lets take down that roadblock of sin and help you take up your cross and follow Him. Turn your negative into a positive by turning that roadblock of sin into the cross. Luke 9:23 says "If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me." Now here is what I want you to do. Look at the cross on this page and see the red and white stripes on the cross, made out of the roadblock. Each red stripe represents a sin of yours for which Jesus died for on the cross. The red color stripes stands for the blood that He shed to remove that sin, while the white stripes on the cross symbolize your new life in Christ, the forgiveness of your sins.
Gods Word says that once you ask forgiveness of your sins, He remembers them know more. He casts them into the sea, never to be remembered again. In Isaiah 53:5 we read, "By His stripes we are healed." That just doesnt mean physical healing, but spiritual healing, as well. Forgiveness of sin, reunion with God! Great News isnt it! I want you to remember this too, the color red means stop. So whatever you are doing that is causing you not to have a relationship with your creator, your Heavenly Father, stop doing it now! Give Jesus a chance! He was willing to take a chance on you. He gave His life for you. What greater friend than one who will give his own life for you.
Lets think a little bit more about the cross and what it means to you. The Bible talks about a narrow gate and a wide gate. The wide gate is easier to get through, but the narrow gate is the way of life, the way of God. Suppose you were carrying the cross on your shoulders and the bottom part was dragging on the ground. What mark would that cross be leaving on the ground? It would be leaving a drag line, of coarse. Eventually, the drag line would make a narrow road that leads to the cross where Jesus Christ died. You see, the cross is the narrow gate, and Jesus is the Keeper of that gate. First Timothy 2:5 says, that there is only one mediator between you and God the Father, and that person is Jesus Christ. By His grace we can be set free of the sins that have held us in bondage.
Once you have accepted Jesus into your heart, you must dedicate yourself to becoming the new person in Christ that God has called you to be since the beginning of time. How can you start? Start by reading Gods Word every day. Spend time praying and seeking Gods will for your life. By reading the Bible, your feeding your spirit. It helps you grow and mature in your relationship with God. As you read, ask God to give you wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, making your way straight, so that you can have a clear definition of Gods will for your life.
Pray for strength against your real enemy in this world: Satan. He doesnt care one iota about you, but will surely try to stop you from following God. Gods Word says that Satan comes to kill, steal, and destroy.
Read John 10:1-10. These scriptures will give you a clearer understanding of what Ive been talking about. The book of John is a very good place to start reading, learning, and growing as a new child of God. Find a translation of the Bible that is in todays language and has good references suggested in its footnote area. The one I recommend most often is the Spirit Filled Life Bible, New King James Version, published by Nelson. This bible has really helped me grow and mature in my relationship with God. So grow, go, let go, and God will do the rest.
Most likely youve followed road signs and their instructions for your safety most of your life. Now I hope you will follow the most important sign of all: the sign of the cross. Weve all seen crosses on church buildings, and other places, too, but most of us never give it a second thought. Today, I hope I have changed your thinking on the cross and its profound meaning to you. The next time you see a cross, pause for a moment and thank God for giving us His only begotten Son.
Dont worry if you find it hard to carry your own cross daily. Jesus did not expect you to do it alone. Gods Word says to confess your sins one to another and pray for one another. Jesus didnt carry His cross to Calvary by Himself, either; the soldiers had to pull a man out of the crowd of onlookers to help Him finish carrying it to the crucifixion. Once youve made the choice to be a Christian, its up to you to grow and mature in your relationship with God. Find a church home that is on the move with God, actively growing and maturing. Seek out a congregation that supports and nurtures its members spiritual gifts and talents, a church whose leadership organizes regular prayer meetings throughout the week, not just on Sundays. Ask God for wisdom, and He will lead you to a strong, Spirit-based church home.
But a good church wont be your only source of spiritual encouragement. Never forget that Jesus said He would leave us the Comforter, which is God the Holy Spirit. Indeed, no man can ever teach you more than the Holy Spirit. Put your trust in God, not in man. Ultimately, any human is going to disappoint you, let you down. There is only one person who will never leave you or forsake you, and that is the One who did it all for us at Calvary, the man Jesus, the Son of God. I can tell you this because I was orphaned at the age of eight. I had to grow up fast and if there is one thing I know is Jesus did not come to leave us orphans, even when we feel He has forgotten us in our darkest times. I am living proof there is a God and He loves you and wants friendship with you.
If you accepted Jesus today in your heart through reading this story, please write and tell us here at Roadblock Ministry. If you need help finding a church home in your community, wed be more than happy to give you some suggestions. Dont hesitate to contact us if there is any other way we can help you grow in your relationship with God.
Thank you for taking the time to read this tract. We pray it was a Blessing to you.
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