A Pastor’s Perspective, What Will It Take ?


By: Mike Upchurch

What Will It Take ?

Sometimes bewilderment gets the better of me, and I will begin firing random questions at imaginary people in my thoughts. Such was the case last night as I lay in bed. I was asking these questions…..

If you’re not saved, why?

What would it take for you to believe in God?

What will it take for you to be saved by Jesus’ grace? Would it be Him offering you lots of money? Or perhaps an Angel appearing to you personally in your home? Maybe a trumpet sound followed by all your Christian friends disappearing at once? (Author’s note: by then it will be too late).

Again, why aren’t you saved????

Obviously, those who aren’t saved have very valid reasons for not surrendering to the Lord. At least in their own minds. I do remember my mindset before I got saved: a young man full of pride and some evil. My reasoning for not being saved was pretty straightforward; I believed in God but I didn’t want to give up my life of rowdiness and of being free. I assumed, as do most, that I’d have to give up anything and everything having to do with what I thought was fun. I’d have to clean up my act which would rid me of all my friends at that time. I would become a goody-two-shoes, and even I wouldn’t like myself then. I wouldn’t have any freedom to be my yucky old self.

The truth is, a lot of those things did happen when I finally surrendered on March 29, 1970, and I’ve never looked back. I was 19 at the time and headed down a dark road. I was running with a lot of the wrong type of friends and basically up to no good, but I was enjoying my pathetic life and I wasn’t wanting to change. I wanted nothing to do with God, simply because I had not found myself in His presence before.

I was already drag racing at that tender age, and weekends were spent either working on cars or racing. My best friend at the time was the late Sammy Hall (a super good guy compared to some of my friends back then) who was also into racing. Sammy had a 4 speed ‘67 Chevelle he raced at Lakeland but also drove on the street, and that particular Sunday afternoon, I was installing a new Hurst shifter in his car. While we were working away, Sammy casually says “Hey, why don’t you come to church with me tonight?” The truth is, he was still living at home and his parents pretty much made him go to church. I guess he figured if he had to go, I should have to go too! For whatever reason I agreed, perhaps because he mentioned there were girls there and I was single at the time. Also, since we had yet to test the new shifter linkage, and McCorkle Road in Whitehaven had a nice straight 1/4 mile stretch of road to use for testing just down from the Church, I didn’t object to going too much. Something about banging gears in a fairly quick muscle car was pretty enticing bribery to a kid like me.

Anyway, off we go to Whitehaven Assembly of God that evening, and straight toward my encounter with the Lord.
Pastor Paul Tinlin preached that night, and I couldn’t tell you anything about his sermon, nor do I remember anything he said. I just remember a sweet red headed lady by the name of Ruby Goodwin coming up to me at the end of the service. She just smiled and said “Would you like to go down to the altar?” I must have had SINNER written across my forehead in large red letters; otherwise how did she know I needed to be saved? At any rate my response was a shaky “I don’t know”. Then Sammy nudged my elbow and says “I’ll go down with you.” His older brother Mike, fresh from Vietnam, leaned over and said “I’ll go too”. Dang! There I was surrounded by guys I thought were my friends, who’d sold me out!

So off I go to an altar feeling pretty dirty and pretty scared. I was shaking and crying by the time we knelt down together. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, other than I just felt dirty and I knew if I died that night I’d go to Hell. I also knew I was in the presence of Jesus and that I needed Him. I knew I was a sinner and I knew He could fix that. I really didn’t comprehend that He loved me, I just knew He was Holy and I wasn’t, and I needed Him!

So I surrendered that night at that red carpeted altar and got saved! I felt cleaner when I got up. I also was instantly worried I was going to have to change my life, but over the next few days, I found that I WANTED to change. I was thinking differently and acting differently and talking differently, all because I had met someone named Jesus who I now wanted to please rather than run from. I was now happier too, and had something I’m not sure I’d ever had before; peace!

If you’re reading this and you haven’t surrendered to the Lord, I don’t know what it will take for you to give in and confess your sins to Him. I don’t know what you need as motivation, but I do know this; you don’t have much time left. All the signs are in place that He’s ready to come back for those who are His. You can’t enter Heaven unless you’re saved by His blood. Only by receiving His death on the cross as payment for your sins can you even get in! Not by good works, not by going to church, not by tithing; only by confessing your sins and surrendering to Him.

What will it take? I pray it’s this column. Give in today and walk in His love and His peace like you’ve never known! You will never ever regret it!

And that’s the way I see it!

Pastor Mike