I had a lot of hatred in my life. It wasn't something outwardly manifested, but there was a kind of inward grinding. I was disgusted with people, with things, with issues. Like so many other people, I was insecure. Every time I met someone different from me, he became a threat to me.
But I hated one man more than anyone else in the world. My father. I hated his guts. To me he was the town alcoholic.
If you're from a small town and one of your parents is an alcoholic, you know what I'm talking about. Everybody knows. My friends would come to high school and make jokes about my father being downtown.
They didn't think it bothered me. I was like other people, laughing on the outside, but let me tell you, I was crying on the inside. I'd go out in the barn and see mother beaten so badly she couldn't get up, lying in the slop behind the cows.
When we had friends over, I would take my father out, tie him up in the barn, and park the car up around the silo. We would tell our friends he'd had to go somewhere. I don't think anyone could have hated anyone more than I hated my father.
After I made my decision for Christ - maybe five months later - a love from God through Jesus Christ entered my life and was so strong it took that hatred and turned it upside down. I was able to look my father squarely in the eyes and say, "Dad, I love you." And I really meant it. After some of the things I'd done, that shook him up.
When I transferred to a private university I was in a serious car accident. My neck in traction, I was taken home. I'll never forget my father coming into my room. He asked me, "Son, how can you love a father like me?"
I said, "Dad, six months ago I despised you." Then I shared with him my conclusion about Jesus Christ: "Dad, I let Christ come into my life. I can't explain it completely, but as a result of that relationship, I've found the capacity to love and accept not only you, but other people just the way they are."
Forty-five minutes later, one of the greatest thrills of my life occurred. Somebody in my own family, someone who knew me so well I couldn't pull the wool over his eyes, said to me, "Son, if God can do in my life what I've seen Him do in yours, then I want to give Him the opportunity." Right there my father prayed with me and trusted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.
"Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17)