I ALMOST SELF-DESTRUCTED BECAUSE OF HATRED, BUT JESUS HAD MERCY ON ME
By: Malcolm Gilbert
“My mother bought a length of chain, and two small padlocks, and locked one end of the chain around a steel post in the middle of the room, and the other end around my ankle. I was chained up like a dog.”
Let me take you back to my troublesome teen years in Brisbane. Apart from my older brother Larry, who was 3 years my senior, I never really had a male role model in my life. Our father utterly disowned us and played no part in our lives whatsoever. Our mother divorced him when I was still an infant. We never received a single birthday card, or Christmas card, from him.
Before his passing, in 1991, I tried to bridge the gap between us and establish a father-son relationship with him, but he just wouldn’t have it. Don’t get me wrong - I have completely forgiven my father, freely and unconditionally before God.
During my childhood our single mother had male friends. One in particular who showed us kindness, and took us in his car on outings to the beach, but I was fearful of him. In spite of his kindness he came across to me as a threat. I viewed him as overbearing and menacing.
When it came to my personal development, and education, to say I was an underachiever would be an understatement. I failed in everything simply because I had no motivation to succeed. I hated school and tried every trick I could think of to avoid going to school. Being a quiet, withdrawn, and timid child, I was picked on almost daily by the school bullies, and I had nobody that I could turn to. I was also very sure that the school principal didn’t like me either, and made it clearly obvious by blaming me for things I didn’t do, and feeling like I was being unfairly targeted by the principal.
I had a choice: Either crumble under it or harden myself against others and view them as my enemy, and naturally I chose the latter. It began gradually, and subtly. Hatred grew stronger and stronger within me, until it completely consumed my life. Hate became a living entity, and it was all that motivated me. I became a complete loner, with no friends. I would aimlessly wander the streets of the city day and night, getting into mischief and breaking the law.
When I was 18, my mother and I lived in a small one room apartment, and she did shift work, so she often worked nights. Because of her genuine concern for me, and about what I was doing and where I was going, she bought a length of chain, and two small padlocks, and locked one end of the chain around a steel post in the middle of the room, and the other end around my ankle. I was chained up like a dog. This is no lie.
I had very little self esteem as it was, but the little that I did have completely disintegrated. Hatred consumed me, and was devouring me on the inside.
When I was about 21, and still wandering the city streets, devising ways to get into mischief, I noticed Open Air Campaigners preaching the gospel on the sidewalk. I would walk past them and sneer at them, and think, ‘What a bunch of idiots!’ I would do this repeatedly just to get their attention, but I had no time for their 'stupid beliefs, or their God. Superstitious rubbish!’ I thought.
Then one night, as I was standing and waiting for the lights to change, a young man walked over to me, and said, “Can I tell you about Jesus?” I told him that I didn’t believe in that stuff, but for some strange reason I felt inclined to listen to what he had to say. He could’ve talked ‘til he was blue in the face, but he wasn’t reaching me. There was too much hatred standing in the way. He asked if I would go with him to a Christian meeting being held that night, a couple of blocks away. “No thanks.” I declined the offer.
When he saw that he wasn’t reaching me, he held out a little booklet and said, “Well, will you read this?” I took it just to humour him, but had no intention of reading it. As far as I was concerned it was useless rubbish. I put it in my shirt pocket. Before we parted he shook my hand and said, “I hope I’ll see you up there some day.” I noticed he had tears in his eyes, and immediately after we parted I decided to head for home.
As I walked home that night, I couldn’t get the guy out of my head. Why was he feeling anything for me, a loser, a nobody...why?! It just didn’t make any sense! I was befuddled.
When I got home I readied myself for bed, and was in the habit of reading a comic book before I slept. I pulled out the box from under the bed, where I kept my comics. Not one was there! So feeling rather frustrated I got into bed to sleep. Then I remembered that little booklet that I’d put in my shirt pocket. I thought, It’s better than nothing I guess. It was the first time I actually looked at it. It was called, "Now I’m Free" by Tom Skinner. The story of a young black man living in New York City, a member of a black street gang, whose life only knew hatred and violence. Then one day he heard the message of the gospel of salvation, and accepted Jesus Christ into his life. I read how God mightily transformed his life, and created in him a new creature in Christ Jesus (See: 2 Cor. 5:17).
As I was reading the booklet, I began crying like a baby. The tears were flowing fast, and I couldn’t stop. What was wrong with me! Was I losing my mind! No I wasn’t. The Spirit of God was just beginning to soften my hard cold heart.
Within a short time, when I happened to be in the city on a Sunday night, instead of walking past the Open Air Campaigners and sneering at them, I stopped and listened to them. And to my surprise, I actually enjoyed listening to the preaching.
Over time I made friends with some of them, and they invited me to attend their church, a Baptist church in one of the inner suburbs of Brisbane. (Though I didn’t actually receive Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour at that time).
About a year later, my mother bought a campervan and we began a working holiday around Australia. From Brisbane we headed north up the Queensland coast, stopping at campsites or trailer parks on the way. Eventually we reached a large mining town in North/west Queensland called Mount Isa.
On Sunday night there was a movie showing at a cinema in the town, and I went to see it. As I was standing in the line waiting to go in, I noticed a group of people preaching the gospel in a nearby park, and I thought to myself: If we’re still here next Sunday I might come in and listen to them.
Sure enough, God made His business to see to it that we were still there. So I went back in the following Sunday and sat on a low wall near the Christian group. An elderly woman came over to me and began talking to me. She was sweet and friendly toward me. Then they invited me to their Christian coffee shop, in one of the main streets, called: The Lighthouse. It was there that I received the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour, and they laid hands upon me and cast out several demons, especially the demon of hate. (See: Mark 16:17).
As with many, my Christian walk hasn’t all been smooth sailing. There’s been uphill struggles, but as I look back on how my life used to be, I know that God has worked mighty miracles in my life. I’m living proof of the scripture: Therefore, if any man be in Christ he is a new creature. Old things are passed away. Behold all things have become new. (2 Cor. 5: 17.) Hallelujah!!!
One of my favourite scriptures is 1 Cor. 1: 26-29 KJV:
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea , and things which are not, to bring to nothing things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.
By the world’s standards I was a foolish, despised, worthless nobody. But not to God. He saw me as somebody worth redeeming and saving!
I give God all the praise, and honour, and glory, for His great love and mercy, and His loving kindness toward me. I’m forever in His debt, and forever His.
Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you...please don't make such a tragic mistake.
To get to know God, to be at peace with God, to have your sins forgiven, to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity, to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help you understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life, because in Christ, it is impossible to put a value on the worth of your soul in light of eternity.
Remember: All that we do in this life comes back to our God-given purpose which is to bless and glorify God (which is TRULY OPPORTUNITY!) - making Him FIRST in our life daily if we're wise. The money and assets we accumulate, the fame and power we've attained or seek to attain - all of the things of this nature will one day pass away, but those lives of others we impact for Jesus Christ will last for ETERNITY, and we will be rewarded for the part we helped play by impacting those lives ... for ETERNITY. (Matthew 6:19-20 is our assurance.)
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