In the deep recesses of my brain, I remembered the biblical story about the Apostle Paul, who had been a fire-breathing zealot traveling throughout Israel persecuting Christian Jews. On the road to Damascus…struck by a blinding light, Paul heard the voice of Jesus…a day of reckoning that changed his life forever.
I experienced a “Damascus Road” event that day at 20,000 feet and it had a similar affect on my life.
For the next several hours, a dramatic phenomenon took place. I was put on trial for the way my life had been lived in recent years. My actions, attitudes, behavior and thinking were in stark contrast to the many blessings God had showered upon me.
In my zealous pursuit to become a super fighter pilot, I had strayed far from the path of righteousness. My conscience was obscured by open rebellion and unbridled vanity. Excelling in my job had become my idolatry and obsession. My speech had become callus and profane, and I frequently hurt those closest to me. Too often I allowed the frustrations of the job to come home with me; and my daily retreat to the booze closet approached alcohol abuse.
To outsiders, the relationship with my wife and family appeared normal; but behind closed doors there was serious trouble in my home. My relationship with the children was especially strained. Even the pet dog avoided me.
The evidence against me went back farther than I wanted to admit. I cringed in shame, but the “Prosecutor” illuminated my sins with glee. The trial continued for hours, and I lost awareness of my physical surroundings. However, my consciousness of the transgressions was real.
I was guilty as charged, convicted, and about to be sentenced to spiritual death when a “Presence” entered the room. I looked up through the tears of a distraught soul. The Presence stood in my defense. Incredibly, a message burned into my memory when I was a youth emerged-from a picture of Jesus standing at a door:
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hears my voice and opens the door, I will come to him and eat with him, and he with me…” (Revelation 3:20).
I don’t know when the trial ended, but the hand of Jesus reached down and grasped my outstretched hands. I was delivered from the door of hell and placed on the solid ground of redemption. With the Lord’s help, I wanted to change my attitude, behavior, and my life.
I was saved from spiritual death and vowed to do everything possible to walk the way of a Christian. Through God’s grace and mercy, I was determined to become a new man. When I got up to go to the bathroom, the face that stared back at me had been missing for over ten years! The Dick Toliver that stared back had just experienced a spiritual rebirth!