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Friday, December 19, 2008

Coming out of darkness into the light!

The next morning (November 20th, 1981), the statement that had rung in my mind the night before continued to reverberate in my thoughts. As I worked on the assembly line in the factory that morning, I knew I must face the truth…
-While I’d spoken with fellow workers about having been a missionary in the West Indies, and of my confidence in the Bible etc, I had never had the courage to simply bow my head and give thanks for my food before the others in the cafeteria!
-While I’d faithfully read the Bible with my family and studied it for hours to prepare to preach or teach it to others, I didn’t know what it was to simply sit down with the Word of God to enjoy it as the food for my own soul!
-While I’d given thanks for our food at our table for years, lead in prayer during family devotions and often prayed in assembly meetings, I knew nothing of private and personal communion with God in prayer!
I began to see clearly that the Lord Jesus’ description of the scribes and Pharisees was an
accurate description of myself, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.” Matthew 23:27

Now, since I had no “position” above or over anyone else in the assembly, the fear of man and my own pride could no longer hold me in bondage. So I purposed to go home that night and tell
my wife, Judy, the truth about myself. So after supper , I sat Judy down at the kitchen table and told her that I had come to the conclusion that while I’d learned to go through all the religious motions, I’d never truly been saved!
At first, Judy was incredulous – How could she have married an unsaved man??! But as the seriousness of the matter dawned on her, she plead with me, “Bruce, you know the truth of the Gospel, you’ve preached it to others, why not just believe it for yourself, right now?” But to me, it no longer seemed quite that simple!

I find it hard to explain, but that night I experienced such a calm that I’d not known for a long time and instead of lying awake in fear and under deep conviction of sin (as I thought might have happened), I slept peacefully with a deep sense of relief!!! It was not a false sense of security thinking that I was accepted with God, for I knew that I wasn’t! It was rather just a deep sense of relief stemming from finally facing the truth about myself. I was no longer uncertain, but for the first time in my life I knew exactly where I stood before God. There was no doubt in my mind any longer. I knew that the matter of salvation must now be my #1 priority! That sense of relief was very short lived and the next day the seriousness of my condition was clearly before me. That night was our midweek Bible study night in Collingwood and I knew I needed to go and talk to someone. Judy had been crying all day and was in no frame of mind to go to a meeting so I went alone. I had never before gotten into the habit of wearing a seat belt, but that night I buckled up securely! I knew I was unsaved, under the wrath of God and with no guarantee that the Lord would even spare me from death till I got to Collingwood that night!

After the meeting, David Gray, a man whom I’d called from work that afternoon to tell him my problem, came to me and asked “Bruce are you sure you’re not saved? As a young man, I often struggled with doubts, but I could always go back in my mind to the might I got saved and I knew the matter was settled.” I said, “David, that is something I’ve never been able to do!” So he invited me over to his home that night to talk, and I was glad to go!

Sitting in the living room of David and Elizabeth’s home, he and I read many scriptures and talked of many things relative to God’s salvation. I kept thinking, “As long as we’re looking at the scriptures, I’m sure I’ll get saved!” I’d heard so many people tell how the Lord had used a verse of scripture to open their eyes and draw them to Christ. So that night I was looking for “my” verse of scripture! But the more we read, the darker my mind seemed to get and I began to wonder if I would ever be saved!

But eventually we came to John 5:39 & 40 where the Lord Jesus said to the Pharisees of His day, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.”

I heard no audible voice but the thought that came to the mind of this Pharisee in that moment was clearer than an audible voice, “Bruce, what a fool you have been! Here you are looking for a verse of scripture, but salvation is not in some verse of scripture – it is in the One of whom the scriptures speak!”

Immediately Isaiah 53:5, a verse I’d learned many years before in Sunday School, came to mind in a very personal way, “But He (the Lord Jesus) was wounded for my transgressions, He was bruised for my iniquities: the chastisement of my peace was upon him; and with his stripes I am healed.”

In that moment I turned to David Gray and said, “David, I know it’s settled. He died for me!”

I knew then what my problem had been all along: Being raised in the Woodford home, where Dad and Mom wouldn’t let us do many of the things the neighbour kids could , I had foolishly thought, “We Woodford kids are just a bit better than the kids down the block! But nothing could have been further from the truth! “For there is no difference, for all have sinned!” Romans 3:22,23
So the night when I was 11 and professed to be saved, I’d been afraid of hell but had not been willing to acknowledge my sinfulness!
Since the 21st of November,1981, (my spiritual birthday) I’ve often said that I didn’t learn (intellectually) any truth that night that I didn’t know before. But I did come to know in my spirit at least two things:
(1) I learned what it was to finally have peace with God resting on what the Lord Jesus did for me, and
(2) I learned what a vast difference there is between having religion and knowing Christ!

After all those years that I had tried to deal with my doubts by thinking… “ I couldn’t have done all the things I’ve done and not be saved”… I now realized that I had been resting for assurance in my doing rather than in what the Lord Jesus had already done for me!

I am so very thankful to God for giving His own Son to die in my place and I have often thanked the Lord for Helen Ferguson (now Helen Allen) whose courage and honesty was used by the Lord to awaken me to acknowledge my own need of the Saviour!

(I’ve been in touch recently with Helen and her husband , Steve, and look forward to soon being able to share with you Helen’s own story of how she came to Christ some years after I did.)


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Dad. Hearing how a person got saved is hearing about a miracle happen every time! Missing you and Mom lots - love to you both! Steph

Bruce Woodford said...

Thanks so much Steph! That's why I so much enjoy hearing other's accounts of how they came to Christ. Everyone has a unique story!

We miss you too and would love to be with you all, but thanks for keeping us updated with your blog and pictures of your whole crew.

Lots of love to you all,