My name is Tim McCandless and I would like to tell you about the time in my life when I was saved. This time which so often is referred to in the Bible as “saved” is also referred to as being born again, or converted.
I had the privilege of being born into a Christian family with the extra privilege of having a father who is an evangelist. Sometimes as I walk through airports or malls I look at the hundreds of people coming and going and I think: Wow, what a blessing that I was brought into this world in a family which was immersed in the truth of God’s word!
It is for this reason I can truthfully say that God has shown kindness to me even before my birth. Just think of the blessing that God has placed upon you if you also share this huge blessing of being born into a family with an open Bible. God has done it for one reason and that reason is because he wants you to be saved.
I learned a lot of Scriptures and a lot of truths while I was young. My father being a preacher meant that we spent many hours hearing Gospel messages. I can recall sitting in a lot of meetings in the Community Hall out in Knightville, Waterford, Apohaqui and other communities surrounding Sussex.
I can honestly say that I never doubted the truth of what I had learned from God’s word. From my youngest age, I just accepted that what the Bible said was true. Even though I was born hearing messages straight from the Bible, and learning verses about Christ and the cross, this did not make me saved. The meaning of the word “saved” itself indicates a moment, for it means “to be rescued”. I was missing this moment.
Gradually as I grew older, I became more aware of the solemnity of these truths I was hearing from the Bible. My heart was soft towards them.
One truth that spoke to me was that the Bible speaks of a real place called Hell. I can remember a fear of being in a place of darkness. A place that the Bible described as the blackness of darkness forever (Jude 1:13). A place where I knew every person would be if they died never having been saved. (John 8:21).
It began to bother me that my eternal destiny was different from my father and mother for I knew they were saved. It bothered me that they were going upwards, and I was going downwards. I can remember distinctly sitting in the second row from the front in one particular meeting and singing the words of that old hymn “Eternity, O dreadful thought for thee a child of Adam’s race, shalt thou the hopeless horror see of hell for all eternity”.
The tragic sadness of being lost was setting in. I’m thankful that God in his kindness allowed such a solemn truth to grip me. One can never be saved nor appreciate salvation unless he first feels the weight of personal sin and being lost. So for this I am thankful.
Another truth that bothered me was the rapture. I have specific memories of pretending I had a headache and going upstairs to the edge of mom and dad’s bed to ask for an aspirin only because I wanted to see if the rapture had occurred. I had an older brother and an older sister saved, but I was not. I feared that Christ’s return was going to leave me home alone with my youngest sister. When my younger sister and I would get off the bus and run down the backyard into the house, I would be so relieved to see mom and to know the rapture hadn’t occurred.
With my heart soft to these truths, I would find myself sad thinking about them. This fear of missing salvation was one cloud that hung over me and thankfully never ever fully left until the moment I was saved.
The greatest voice to me as a young boy happened in November of 1985. After a regular day at school I came home and threw my book bag down at the back door as usual. I said Hello to mom in the kitchen and it was then that she told me my closest cousin had just been saved. It spoke to me that he was saved and I was not, for I was two years older than him. I felt that time was passing me by and the probability of my missing it was getting more of a reality.
As only a young boy I worried about missing salvation. You can call that childhood simplicity, but that simplicity would do well to grip all. I hope there isn’t anyone reading this who would ever miss salvation. I hope the truth of missing it would grip you like it did my soul when I walked into the back door of my house just home from school.
I pretended this news of my cousin’s salvation didn’t bother me and I went outside to ride my dirt bike, but it put me into a real turmoil. I wanted to be saved more than ever.
I can specifically remember Dec 1st, 1985. It was a Sunday and I went to Sunday School as usual. When I was home from Sunday School after lunch I can remember working on a “No Smoking” poster for a school project. As I worked on the poster, I can remember the tears falling as I thought about the fact that I was not saved. I was excited because we were going for the very first time in our lives to Florida for a family vacation at Christmas. Yet despite the excitement of the upcoming trip I was still sad because I knew I wasn’t saved.
That Sunday night I went to Gospel meeting and I came home. I still wanted to be saved but still didn’t seem any closer. I looked at verses like John 3:16 and I knew I believed, but I also knew there was more to it then just a superficial believing.
That following week went by quickly. Somehow I had forgotten somewhat about being saved as that week had passed. I remember thinking how that a whole week went by and I had intended on being saved last Sunday.
Once again on a Sunday afternoon I was burdened about being saved. So I sat with tracts and Sunday School pamphlets, trying to be saved, but again I seemed to be stumbling over it. I was just what the Bible describes when it describes the sinner as being “LOST”. (Luke 19:10).
It was about 5pm on that Sunday, Dec 8th, when I decided that I had been troubled for long enough and I couldn’t get it. I can distinctly remember thinking – God has saved my older brother, and he has saved my older sister, but I am going to be the one in this family who just won’t be saved. At that moment I thought I’ll just have to go to hell.
In the darkness of that moment, as it settled into my thinking that I was going to be lost forever, the thought came to my mind – I don’t have to go to Hell, because Jesus died for me! I knew in that instant I was saved.
I am thankful that shortly after 5pm on Dec 8th, 1985 God reached and saved me! The relief and the joy of knowing where you will be for all eternity is something you can have in this life, for the Bible says so and I have experienced it myself.
1John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish but have everlasting life.