My name is Johnny Schlaack and here is my story of God’s grace in my life…
In The Midst of Life’s Troubles
Sometimes in life, we have to face difficult situations. Some troubles are certainly more difficult than others, and these trials are either directly upon us or with someone we love. In the midst of life’s troubles, we may find ourselves looking up to heaven and asking the tough questions. God has a way about getting our attention. And the Bible says that God wants us to seek Him in the hope that we might find Him (Acts 17:27).
Well, here’s my story of how God got my attention. In the summer of 1990, some events happened that would change the course of my life. I had just graduated from high school, was working, and was heading off to the local college in the fall with my girlfriend. Life seemed fairly normal other than my Dad had been temporarily transferred to Mexico to work in one of his company’s factories. But then in the middle of summer, our family got the news that my Grandma had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Now, you need to understand that Grandma was a cornerstone to our family and she clearly loved her grandchildren. I use to spend countless summer days at her house with my cousins. We would swim and eat and swim some more. But more than that, Grandma lived a life before us that showed she had an intimate relationship with God. She would pray and read her Bible in the mornings. She would teach the Bible to children in her home, and played the piano and sang at church. It was also common for her to take us grandchildren with her to the local convalescent home and sing songs to the people who could not longer care for themselves. Grandma was certainly a godly woman who loved God and had given her life to serve the Lord Jesus Christ of the Bible.
So when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer in her mid-fifties, it came as a shock to the entire family. Well, the doctors performed the normal chemotherapy treatments, but it was certain that nothing was going to stop the cancer from killing her. In less than six months time, the cancer would lead to her death. I can still distinctly remember visiting her in the hospital. The cancer was very painful and required morphine to help ease the pain. But even though she was in pain with tears rolling down her cheeks, she still maintained a genuine smile of joy. Her response to this awful, painful cancer and ultimately her response to God greatly impacted me about where I stood in my relationship to God. To this day I have visited people in the hospital and very rarely do I see individuals responding the same way she did. What was different about Grandma? Was she just a good person and had a good heart? She would have said, “Absolutely No!” But she was clearly at peace with God and was certain she was going to heaven when she died (just like the Bible promises in 1 John 5:13).
Yet, even though I was raised going to church and had lived a fairly moral life (humanly speaking), I knew in my heart that I was not at peace with God like my grandmother was. But what was my problem? Sure I had engaged in activities that were against the law (alcohol, drugs, etc.), and had committed sins that were clearly condemned by the Bible (immorality, etc.) like many teenagers. Yet, in my mind I would rationalize and say, “Who hasn’t sinned… surely God will forgive me?” Even the Bible says, “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20) The problem with my thinking was that God demands perfection. Jesus said in Matthew 5:48, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Ok, you may be thinking well I really haven’t done anything that bad that would send me to hell. Yet, when you read the Bible, you can’t help but notice all of God’s commands to obey him. For example, just consider the ten commandments (Exodus 20). The 9th commandment tells us that we are not to lie not even “white lies”. Who can say that they have never lied? The 8th commandment tells us that we are never to steal. Who can say that they have never stolen anything? The 7th commandment tells us that we are not commit adultery, and Jesus said that if one looks at someone with lust in their heart they have committed adultery (Matthew 5:28). Who can say that they never had a lustful thought in their mind? Well, if we are honest with the Bible and ourselves, we are guilty of breaking all ten of the commandments (not to mention the rest of the commandments of Scripture). But even if I had only broken one of the commandments one time in my lifetime, I would still be condemned. James 2:10 states, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.”
So my story goes on that I began attending a different church and then later the next year started attending a Bible study. As I began to study the Bible, God opened my eyes to my guilty standing before Him. I was not at peace with God, like my Grandmother. Sure, I fooled myself for years that I was “OK”, but I wasn’t. In fact, the Bible states that when some people meet God on judgement day, God is going to say, “Depart from Me, for I never knew you…” (Matt. 7:15-23). But thank God for the Good News! The Good News was that even though I was guilty and condemned, Jesus Christ came to this earth over 2000 years ago and died on my behalf and on the behalf of the whole world. 1 Peter 3:18 states, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God…” God used my Grandmother’s life and her dying of cancer to get my attention to seek Him and realize through the reading the Bible of my sinful standing before Him. By God’s grace, I repented of my sins and placed my faith alone in Christ alone which is the only way to heaven. I turned my back away from my life of sin, and came and followed Jesus. Now, as 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 teaches, the love that Christ showed by dying in my place controls me that I no longer want to live for myself, but for Him who died on my behalf.
I wanted to tell you my story of what God has done in my life because it is Good News. And this Good News of Jesus Christ dying, being resurrected, and offering forgiveness of sins to all will repent and believe is something that everyone should hear. So my prayer and hope is that you will