My Testimony

by Richard W. Webb

Look What The Lord Has Done

I’m blessed! Do you know how many years it took me to realize that? OK, so I’m not perfect. But if you knew me years ago, and compared what I was then to what I am now, you’d certainly have to agree. I’m blessed.

I’m healthy. I have a wife who I love dearly, and three children I love, too. And five grandkids. I have a job (and, believe me, I know what it’s like to not have one). We own the portion of our house that the bankers don’t. And about two thirds of our car is actually our car.

We have a loving church family. A few good friends. The world is full of beauty to see, and smell, and hear, and taste, and touch.

And I know the One who created it all!

It Hasn’t Always Been Like This

I was a fool! I wasn’t yet a teenager and already I was a fool.

I remember it clearly. Well, sort of clearly. The details may be faded, but the main idea is there. I told Jesus to stay out of my life. And the silly thing of it was, I don’t think he was really in my life. I certainly hadn’t asked him to be. The family didn’t go to church, there was no prayer in our house, and I didn’t have any friends that I would go to church with. Sure, I had gone to what the schools called "release time religious education." I went to whatever Protestant church us kids who didn’t have a regular church went to. And I heard some of the stories. But I certainly didn’t know Jesus well enough to ask him to please leave me alone. But that’s just what I did.

Aside from not knowing Jesus personally, I really didn’t know much about him at all. I had the whole God thing pretty well mixed up. All I knew at the time was that I had things I wanted to do. And I didn’t want anybody hanging off my shoulder telling me not to do things. So I told him to go. Leave me alone. Let me live my life the way I think it should be lived.

So he backed off. But he didn’t go away.

I Did It My Way

I was free. Free to do the things I wanted. Started smoking. Had a beer now and then. Learned how to talk like a grown up.

All in all I wasn’t a bad kid. For the most part I did all right in school. Only skipped a couple of times. Didn’t go around beating up on little kids. Did enough of my homework to get by. Didn’t cheat too much. Didn’t lie much, just when I had to protect myself. Graduated from high school and even did a couple years of community college.

Somewhere along the way I got into music. I was actually pretty good on guitar, but probably not as good as I thought I was. Couldn’t sing a lick, though. And I was a musician, I’ll have you know, not an entertainer. I thought being an entertainer and pleasing an audience was for sissies. I mean, if they didn’t like my music, well, too bad. They don’t know nothin’ nohow. [By the way, I still don't consider myself to be an entertainer, but for an entirely different reason.]

And somewhere along the way I got into drugs. No needles, and this was before we knew about crack, but I did my share of a lot of different substances.

Cleaning Up My Act

I’m not writing this to glorify the devil, so I won’t go on about all that. Eventually I got tired of the life, and this coincided with my reunion with a girl I’d gone steady with in high school. Things got off to a pretty rocky start, but we eventually got married. I had my last pipeful of pot while Wendie was in the hospital giving birth to our first son. And I stayed clean after that. We still both had a lot wrong in our lives, but we were slowly growing up. When we decided to have Eric baptized, we made a commitment to attend church, and we stuck to it.

Somewhere around that time, we got saved. OK, so a lot of people will say that if you don’t remember the day and the hour, then you didn’t really get saved. Well, sorry, but I think I can explain that, to a certain extent, at least for me. Salvation, first of all, was my reaction to the combination of Hal Lindsay’s book The Late, Great, Planet Earth, and the influence of a coworker who was saved and attending an evangelical church. Then one night we were watching a Billy Graham crusade and we prayed the prayer. And we did this a few times over the course of a month or two.

So I insist, we got saved. We started having more of a purpose to our church going. We were attending a United Methodist Church, and I actually became a Certified Lay Speaker. That may not sound like much to you, but I had always been deathly afraid of speaking before a group of two or more ever since I could remember. And here I was going to speak in front of dozens, possibly hundreds, of people. And I was going to have to do it without being stoned! Let me tell you, I just about died! But by the grace of God I made it through.

Now when I got saved, I stopped playing guitar. I quit for something like two and a half years. But then we got this new associate pastor who played acoustic guitar and wrote songs and sang pretty good, and I offered to accompany him sometime. He said OK, so I was faced with a new dilemma. The last time I had played guitar in front of an audience without being high on something was a good 15 years before. Once again it was by the grace of God that I got through it.

Some more firsts. I played an instrumental version of Just A Closer Walk With Thee, unaccompanied. I sang a song (Tears In Heaven, if you must know) and no one threw up! Wendie and I decided to lead a study of the Holy Spirit, starting after Easter and leading up to a Pentecost service that the class would plan and lead. I guess in a lot of ways that service was where I started wanting to do more for Jesus. I gave a testimony during that service, and one of the younger members later told me that he decided to give his heart to Jesus at that service. Praise God!

Please. This was not me, or anything I did. All the glory goes to God. In that last paragraph, where I used the word "I" so often, that really wasn’t me. It was Him. You need to know that.

Yes, that service made me want to do more for Christ. But I still didn’t wade in much past my knees.

But a few months later I did manage to get one thing straight in my life. Back in the drug days I got arrested, and ended up spending two and a half months in jail. And I told my parents that I was innocent. During that Pentecost service I managed to tell my entire church family that I had done drugs, and yet I had always denied my guilt to my parents. I finally got the courage to write them a letter (we lived only a few miles away from them and saw them every week, but I couldn’t face them with it). They were shocked, but forgiving. And best of all, it opened a door to make it easier to witness to them. I won’t know for sure until I get to heaven, but I truly believe my father accepted Christ just before his unexpected death from a heart attack. And I know my mother is saved. Praise Jesus.

Going Deeper

So I think this is what happened. Jesus, the same Jesus I had asked earlier to just leave me alone, now had me on his side, but he wasn’t happy with my level of commitment. You know, of course, the difference between being involved and being committed, don’t you? Consider a ham and egg dinner. The chicken is involved, but the pig is committed. So I was the chicken when Jesus wanted the pig.

So how was he going to accomplish this? He somehow convinced the guy who owned the company I worked for to move it from North Syracuse, New York, to New Bern, North Carolina. When I was offered the opportunity to move with the company, I thought about what it would be like to be in the Syracuse area and out of work. Wendie agreed that it could be a disaster, so we moved. We didn’t want to; we were both leaving a town we had grown up in. Wendie was leaving her family behind. We had to figure out a way to move my mother so she would be nearby, since there was no other family in the area to take care of her. Wendie’s dad died the week before we moved. We were miserable.

And we started looking for a church. Since we were United Methodist, we tried out a few of them, and ended up joining one. But it didn’t feel right. It wasn’t like the one we’d left behind. For one thing, I had become accustomed to being involved in the music program at church, and here I wasn’t getting many opportunities.

We then had the opportunity to join a new church that was just starting up, and I could be in the praise band, and Wendie decided it was time for her to step out, so she started singing. With this church we were getting some of what we needed, but really not what we felt was enough. So we started looking beyond the familiar UM umbrella.

One day after church we drove by another church and decided we wanted to stop and see what they were all about. The sign said "New Bern Church Of God." We didn’t know much about the denomination, but we went in and talked to a few people. There was a friendliness that was different than the friendliness we had encountered in other churches in the area, something that made us decide to go back for the evening service. Wow! So glad we did.

That evening we recommitted ourselves to Jesus. In a lot of ways it was more of a first commitment than it was a recommitment. It was certainly a changing point in our lives. The Lord led us to that church, and I’m so glad we obeyed. He dragged us 800 miles to shake us out of our complacency. I can’t begin to tell you how our lives have changed and been enriched. He is a good God.

And here I’ve finally started to realize what this music thing is all about. I was right in my earlier days to not want to be an entertainer, but for the wrong reason. Now I realize that it’s all about Jesus. My purpose in playing music is not to entertain the congregation but to please my Lord and my God. I’ve been called to lift Him up through music, so that He can draw all people to Him.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Let this be my prayer: Lord Jesus, you have done so much for me. You have given me so much. You have given me a talent for music, and the opportunity to use that talent for you. I’m so honored to be allowed to use the gift of music in worship services where I see souls saved and lives changed. Lord, I love you. I don’t know what you want me to do next, or where you want me to go next, but, Lord, here I am.


Copyright © 2002, 2003 by Richard W. Webb
Published by SoaringSpiderSongs
All Rights Reserved


 

scripture

Revelation 12:11 — And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Exodus 31:18 — And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

Hebrews 11:5 — By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

Psalm 132:11-12 — [11] The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne. [12] If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore.

2 Timothy 1:6-9 — [6] Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. [7] For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. [8] Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; [9] Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began . . .