|I was not quite twenty-four years old when I
surrendered my life to the Lord Jesus Christ. I had always
believed in God for as far back as I could remember. I first became
conscious of the Lord when I was about five years old and one night
there was a tremendous meteor shower. All of the neighbors were
out in their yards as were we, watching in awe at the spectacular
sight. To my five-year-old mind, it seemed as if the stars were
falling and I was afraid and began to cry. My grandmother was
visiting us at the time and noticed that I was crying. She
came over to me, knelt down and asked, “Johnny, why are you
crying?” I told her I was afraid because the stars were
falling. She then told me to not be afraid because it was just a
sign in the heavens that the Lord Jesus was coming back for His
people. From that day on, I believed that Jesus would return one
day to take His people home.
As I grew older, I continued to have faith in Jesus. Although we did not go to church, my mother told me that whatever else I did, to never deny that Jesus was Lord. Although I did not fully understand what that meant, I never did, even into my teen years and beyond, deny that Jesus was Lord.
As I entered into my teen years, I began to rebel against life. I became profane in my language and I thought that people were all hypocrites or as I phrased it, “plastic.” I included myself in my assessment. I began to smoke cigarettes at age thirteen and continued to do so until my conversion. When I was seventeen, I quit school and joined the Army. While in the army, I really learned how to curse and swear. I became so used to using bad language that before I knew it, I could not carry on a conversation without four-letter words coming out of my mouth. I tried to stop using bad language after a couple of times when I used it in front of my mother or a friend’s mother, but couldn’t. My whole thought process was full of profanity and cursing.
I was about twenty-two years old and had lived in the Seattle and Los Angeles areas for a year or two, trying to find some meaning to my life. One time, while driving through Oregon on the new interstate highway to Los Angeles, the thought occurred to me that if this was all there was to life it was not worth living. I considered just turning my wheel to the left, crossing the median strip and ending my life right there. Then the thought crossed my mind, “and what then?” I knew that I would face God in judgment and was not ready, so I drove on. During those years, I was convinced of two things: God was a holy God and I was an unholy person, who God could never love.
At the age of twenty-three years I moved back to my parent’s home in Puyallup, Washington. Shortly after moving home, in June of 1965, I had been out with a friend at the motorcycle races drinking. A college professor by the name of Timothy Leary had recently begun telling college student to “tune in, turn on and drop out” with the drug LSD. Although not a college student, I was no doubt on a fast track to do just that. It was a Monday morning; I was not working and was sitting alone in my mother’s kitchen reading an article in the Reader’s Digest. The article was about a woman named Jeane Dixon, who professed to have the gift of prophecy. I was not particularly interested in that sort of thing, but the article told of her various pronouncements that had come to pass, and of what she professed the future would hold.