Friday, January 18, 2008

My Christian Testimony as Published in Adventures of an Optimist

Good morning, Spiritual People!

Are you feeling motivated this morning?

I hope so. I know that I am!

I also hope that 2008 will be your best year so far.

I thought you might enjoy reading an excerpt from Adventures of an Optimist where I describe how I became a Christian.

The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

James 4:10 (NKVJ)

Let me reveal how I became a Christian so you’ll know where I’m coming from with regard to improving the quality of your life. As a youngster, my mother regularly took me to Sunday school. It was my least favorite activity; sleeping was much preferred. I did enjoy listening to sermons, but it was frowned on to take youngsters to adult services.

If I pretended to be asleep, mom would sometimes let me sleep in on Sundays. I was pretty good at pretending so I soon was the biggest backslider in my Sunday school grade. Fortunately, it was an evangelical church so my classmates were always cooking up schemes to get me to attend again.

By the time I turned 13, I was pretty full of myself. There wasn’t much room for God in there alongside my exaggerated opinion of myself. One day while my family was away for a drive, I felt really sick. By the time they got home, I was delirious. Within an hour I was in the hospital where I would stay for two weeks as I barely survived a bad case of double pneumonia.

My physician, Dr. Helmsley, was a good Christian and worried about my soul because my life was in jeopardy. He talked to me about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit twice a day when he stopped by to check on me. After I recovered, he took my mom and me to a tent revival meeting.

Having recovered from the illness, I soon pushed God out of my life again. During the next year, I was very caught up instead in athletics. When I was in ninth grade, I desperately wanted to make a contribution to our junior high track team, which had a remote chance of winning the big meet. Our coach, Mr. Layman, told each of us exactly what had to be accomplished for the team to win. I was determined to do my part. I had to come in first!

But that wasn’t likely to happen. Based on past performances, there were at least two people who could out leap me in the standing broad jump, my main event. To make such a jump you stand on a slightly raised, tilted board and spring forward as far as you can into a sand-filled pit. After two of the three jumping rounds, I knew it was hopeless. I was in sixth place and four of the competitors’ jumps were longer than I had ever gone before. I also didn’t like the board we were using.

Remembering that we should call on God when we need help, I thought of praying … but what I wanted was so trivial in God’s terms that I didn’t think it was worthy of prayer. So I decided to make God an offer instead: “Dear God, help me win this event, and I’m yours forever.” After all, if He came through, any doubts I had about God would be dispelled.

I got onto the broad-jump board and felt very calm. I did my routine and took off into the air. Suddenly, I felt light as a feather with a large, gentle hand lifting under me. I was dropped softly at the end of the pit. I had out leaped everyone, and gone more than six inches past my best jump ever. I couldn’t believe it. Then I remembered my promise to God, thanked him, repented my sins, accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and ran off to tell everyone on the team.

What was even more remarkable was that I was the only person on the team who performed up to the plan. Knowing what had to be done had probably given us performance anxiety, and people underperformed because they didn’t believe they could do what the team needed.

After a few days, I started to think that perhaps I’d just developed a new broad jump technique and God didn’t have a role at all. God soon dispelled that thought by making sure that my jumps for the rest of my life were shorter than I had jumped when He lifted me up.

Since then, God has been speaking to me on a regular basis. I’ve learned to pay attention and act promptly. When I follow His orders, things work out great. That’s my secret to high performance, and I just wanted to share it with you so you could benefit, too. He knows the answers, even when you and I don’t … which is most of the time.

Having been told to start the 400 Year Project by God, I continued to receive instructions. In 2005, for example, God told me to start explaining to people how to live their lives by gaining more joy from what they already have.

You may be wondering why I put this Christian testimony into what’s mostly a secular book. It’s simple. God has been telling me to put my testimony into this book every day lately, and I just found a good place to fit it in my story.

If you already gain high performance from your spiritual experiences, that’s great. Even if such spiritually based performance is the case, based on my experiences I believe you are missing out if you don’t know Jesus as your Lord and Savior. I encourage you to find out about and consider what you’re missing: That message is an important part of what God told me He wants you to think about as you read this chapter.

Life without Jesus can be pretty lonely and scary. Wouldn’t you like to find out how to enjoy His love, peace, and guidance? A good book to help you start exploring this spiritual opportunity is Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now (FaithWords, 2004).

May God bless you.

Donald W. Mitchell
Chairman, Mitchell and Company

Copyright 2008 Donald W. Mitchell

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