In November 1972, when I was twenty-two, I was to experience a number of revelations from Jesus over the following eighteen months. The following is a short extract from the full version of my testimony.
One evening towards the end of November 1972, I got down on my knees in my bedroom and surrendered my life to Jesus. I admitted to Him that I could see no good thing in me to recommend me or anything that I had done that I could point to in order to justify myself to Him in any way and that many things that I had done had made me His enemy rather than His friend - I fully acknowledged that I was a sinner, through and through. I asked Him to forgive me for all the things I had done. I accepted that He had come into the world, which he had made, as a baby miraculously conceived and born of a virgin, had lived as a man on the earth and was brutalised and executed on my behalf. I understood that God cannot have anything to do with sin, so it had to be paid for. I asked Him to take full control of my life and be my Lord and saviour.
What happened next was totally unexpected. Immediately after my prayer, I felt the powerful presence of someone who seemed to be of great age, older than time itself and who was full of profound wisdom and had great power. It seemed He was standing about three or four feet away in front of me although I could not see Him with my eyes. Although I did not know Him, He knew me. I could feel Him looking right into my soul as if it were a block of clear glass and I could sense that He knew and understood me and my motives to an immense depth, far more than I understood them myself. He showed me that He knew me before I was born and from before He had made the world. Words are insufficient to describe what happened, it was extremely powerful, frightening and wonderful all at the same time. He did five things for me: He totally forgave me for all the sins I had ever committed. He filled my inner being with light - where previously felt I was in total darkness. He showed me that I had an eternal existence from before the world came into being and would continue into infinity. He took away the fear of death which had plagued me from childhood. This fear has never returned since. He opened my understanding of the Bible. When I looked at the New Testament which was lying on my bed in front of me, I found that I was able to understand it as if every word was clearly and personally addressed to me. Even the print appeared clearer.
One night in March 1974, I was telling my wife of my concern that I had not really demonstrated that I had surrendered everything in my life to God. I was really anxious that God required me literally to give up everything, including my marriage, and become a tramp to show there was nothing left in my life that I was holding on to. She said to me that that was not what God meant by being fully surrendered to Him and then she drifted off to sleep. I was fully awake and casting about in mind what more God wanted from me.
Suddenly I found myself in the presence of what I can only describe as an atmosphere of overwhelmingly intense holiness. I was then able to see where this was coming from as I was confronted by a person in a white garment standing at the end of our bed. This person stood about six feet tall and was clothed in a white garment which was radiant like lightning. I could see His face and beard but could not make out His features because of the brilliance of the light. Although the light was so bright, I was not blinded and could still look at Him without having to squint. What was more terrifying was that this person was awesomely powerful and searingly pure, holy (like a sort of spiritual bleach) - words are inadequate to describe the experience properly. I could see what a disgusting and selfish creature I really was. I wondered how I could hide from this Holy Being, disappear or somehow simply cease to exist in order to get away since there was nothing in me that I could find that could tolerate His presence. As I was still filled with these thoughts and a feeling of utter consternation, I then began to sense complete forgiveness for my filthy, selfish nature. Whereas previously, I had been thoroughly forgiven for all the selfish and unclean things I had done in my life, this time, I was forgiven for what I was as a person. I was now shown that I had a right to exist simply because He decided that He wanted me to exist. It had nothing to do with me or anything I had done. I then felt His utterly selfless love coming over me in powerful waves and envelope me with greater and greater power and intensity. I could see that He was looking directly at me and His whole attention was entirely focussed on me and me alone. The power of His love increased so much that I felt as though I would be absorbed into Him and consumed out of existence. I then began to feel anxious and a little alarmed - I was not used to unconditional love, and certainly not with this power. I was not even used to ordinary love, it had taken some time for me to learn to tell my wife how much I loved her and I was completely out of my depth here. I started to pull away from His love. He gently drew away and gradually withdrew from the room.
I find it impossible to express the enormity of this experience in words. I really felt as though I was going to be completely taken out of this world into Him. The Jesus I saw was much greater, more full of complete selfless love, purity and power than the descriptions in the New Testament. It is no wonder that the writers of the New Testament had to invent a new word for God's love.
A Christian Testimony - Conversion Experience
by James Christian Petzold