Pastor Bob Grenier
CALVARY CHAPEL VISALIA
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Entering into a relationship with the Lord was a process. I had been reading any and all books I could get my hands, on, books on Eastern Religions, etc., various philosophical books, etc. I knew there was something more to my life that I was living. In addition to reading books about life and its meaning, I was using psychedelic drugs with the belief that they would help me tap into whatever it was that was out there. God was a vague concept to me. Not a person, or persons if you will. It was very much a broad swath of “something is out there, and I don’t quite know what it is.” There was a time when I began to think about God is up there somewhere. And I would go and sit in beautiful little churchyards, thinking that might help me. I had a small Pocket New Testament that included the Book of Psalms and Proverbs. Each day I would close my eyes and then open that little Bible and then point my right index finger to a random verse on the pages. I did this because somehow I believed that there was guidance to be found in the Bible. I kept up this routine for awhile, and so did the hunger in my heart. Nothing was getting me anywhere on my search, neither the books nor the drugs. In fact, my life was slowly but surely falling apart and becoming very confusing. I forgot to mention that music played a big part in this portion of my life. Most of the people from my generation looked to musicians as modern-day prophets. So, each new album purchase was the hope of learning something that would take me closer to what I was trying to find. But of course, it did not.
One day a crisis took place with a friend of mine named David. He had fronted me some money to buy some drugs which he would then sell, and give me a commission of sorts. Somehow or another the money disappeared, and when he came to collect the drugs, and they nor the money were to found, he pulled out a small caliber handgun and placed the barrel right between my eyes. I remember looking up over the top of the barrel into his eyes and thinking “how in the world did I get myself into this situation?” In other words, my entire life from early childhood to present passed through my mind. David then moved the gun from the middle of my eyes, moving it to the left side of my head, not pointing it at my head, but rather alongside my head and then fired a shot off, and then moved the gun back to its original position between my eyes.
I remember David saying something to the effect of, “I’m serious, if you don’t get me that money, you are in big trouble when I come back.” A friend of mine was standing nearby, and I remember him snickering and laughing at this whole situation, which was not funny to me, but apparently, it was to him. That was very disturbing. I thought what kind of friend is this to have.
It was that night alone in a house I was staying at (no one else was home that night) that I suddenly began becoming aware of myself in a way that I never had, and it was not pleasant. I found myself kneeling on the ground and placing my elbows on what was a shallow table made out of huge tree stump turned into a table. When I was in this kneeling position, I also began to become aware of something else in the room with me, in fact, two things.
One was a clear almost visible sense of Jesus Christ in a pure white robe standing next to a throne of sorts. The other was a sense off to my left of Satan. It was at this point I began to see my life for what it had been, no longer for what I thought I was, or what I thought I had been, but what I truly had been. That is to say; I began to realize that Jesus was alive and it seemed to me that I had broken every one of His commandments. I was not familiar with all 10 of them, but somehow or another, they became apparent to me. I was shocked and horrified to realize that kind of life I had been living all these years and had neglected anything to do with Jesus and with God. I was extremely ashamed of myself. I must have cried and cried for hours upon hours over the way I had lived.
It was then that Jesus began to become more in my focus and thoughts, and I started to realize how pure and clean He was, and how dirty from sin I was. The strange thing about Jesus to me was that He seemed to know all about what I had done, and that He loved me inspire of my sinful life. And I felt drawn to Him and felt that He was drawing me to Himself and I began to call out to Him through my tears and now my sobbing. I asked Him to forgive me. At that very same time, I was also (and it was as if someone had tapped me on my left shoulder trying to gain my attention) I turned and could see the devil beckoning me to come his way. In fact, he was forthright in what he said to me. He told me that if I was to come his way that he would enable me to have any and all things that I wanted to have. He indicated to me that he would give me the power to manipulate people and thus use them to gratify my desires. It was, clear, simple, straightforward, and convincing. My response was no, no, no. I do not want that. Rather, I want this beautiful pure loving Jesus who was calling me to Himself. I cried out to Him over and over again for mercy. These thoughts went on all through the night till daybreak.
As the morning came about it was so serene and peaceful, there was a small lake behind the house where I was staying. Lot’s of trees with Spanish Moss hanging down from them. I remember feeling like a cleansing had taken place in my life. I had not had this kind of feeling perhaps ever.
I still had the problem of David and his money or drugs. So, I decided to head out of town, and go to Jamaica and try to swing some deal to get this all straightened out. I was deathly afraid that if I stayed put, that things were not going to be good at all. I started hitchhiking, and my first ride was a group of people in a Volkswagen Bus. I believed they were Christians since I felt so happy with them. I remember them being kind and caring towards me and giving me some literature to read. They took me as far as they could, but the next ride was a man in a car, and all I can remember was a feeling of evil in that car. The next ride was in a big van, and the two men in the van had all kinds of illegal drugs and were happy to share them with me. But, now for the first time in years, I did not want them. And I could not wait to get out of that van. They dropped me off at the Miami International Airport. It was February 5, 1973, and it was there that a complete stranger approached me and asked me if “Was a Jesus Freak?”
I had not heard that phrase used before, but remember answering him, “No, but I believe in Jesus.” He then gave me a little booklet called a Christian Tract that explains what the Gospel Message is and how a person can come home to God and become one of His children, be forgiven and have a new life in Jesus Christ. The title of the booklet was “The Four Spiritual Laws” put out by Campus Crusade for Christ. It lays out step by step what the truth is about life, about sin, about heaven, about hell, and about what Christ did on the cross for mankind. Towards the end of the little booklet, there was sample prayer to pray if you wanted to surrender your life to Jesus and receive Him as your Savior. I wanted to do that, and I prayed that prayer. It was now February 6, 1973, about 3:30 am, and the airport was like a ghost town.
Soon, the doors started opening, and people began filing into the airport. And, I sat there just entranced looking at each one of them. And what stood out to me as I looked closely in their eyes, that they all seemed to be so sad and empty looking. I had never had this type of experience. And at the same time, I felt just the opposite of how they appeared to me. I was peaceful, happy, joyful, and had a sense of something that I had never experienced before in my life. Today, I realize that it was the Lord who was now in my life.
There is so much I could say about the days that followed, but let me end with this. Two days later after going to Montego Bay, Jamaica, and coming right back to Miami, Florida, I was walking the streets of Miami, trying to get the main highway to head to North Carolina. It was early in the morning; no stores were open yet, not much traffic at all. I was just walking on the sidewalks. But, I became so overwhelmed with emotion about what was going on inside of me, that I would find the alleys between buildings, and go down them to the back side of the store and the parking lots there.
And, I would get on my knees and just cry and cry and cry. These were not painful or guilty tears. They were tears of joy coming from me. I could not do this out on the sidewalks, so I would just find an alley and go down it, and repeat this getting on my knees and cry and just have my heart going out to God. I’m not sure if I even said anything, all I remember is crying for joy.