1984 – I got up from my bed and looked out the blinds of my bedroom shortly after asking God to save me. I do not know all the reasons I did that. I do remember there was an expectation in my mind that things would be immediately, noticeably different.
I cracked the blinds apart and stared out the window into our front yard. I will never forget what I saw. It was the same thing that I had seen every other time I looked out that window. The trees were the same; the grass was the same; the sky was the same. It was all the same.
This moment after salvation was my first disappointment with God. I honestly expected things to be different—to look differently and to feel differently. Things were not any different than 30 minutes prior. The thought that went through my mind was fireworks in the sky or a marching band parading down Helms Pond Road. I was disappointed.
Though I didn’t know it, I was thinking like a Gnostic. The physical was evil, and the spiritual was superior, and I expected to discern the differences. I did not know that I was going to learn to live out my “spiritual life” in the context of the physical world, and the significant changes and differences would be in my heart and then in my actions. The transformation did not happen in the world but in my heart.
The changes were taking place at that moment, though I did not perceive it. I was slowly, albeit imperceptibly transforming. The Lord was opening, spiritually speaking. No one knew it or could discern it, but the transformation of Rick Thomas was taking place.
Disappointment Number Two
My second disappointment with God came the next day. I was at work, and there was this girl that worked up the line from us. I don’t remember her name. She was in her 20’s, I suppose, and was quite trim and tall. She was not ugly, but on the production line, your perceptions are not the clearest.
Nevertheless, the days she would come back to our area allowed us to gawk at her, make lewd comments, and commit multiple adulteries in our minds. On this particular day, I had the same thoughts and stole the same looks like any other day. But something happened in my heart that I don’t remember ever happening before. I felt a tinge of conviction about the gawk, the lust, the temptation. I was paying attention to my soul like never before. I felt bad. Weird.
There was something dynamic going on in my heart. I was lusting, something I had done for as long as I could remember. There had never been a tinge of guilt or a desire not to do this. The Spirit of God was cluing me in on how things were going to be from that point forward. I was born again. It became clear that I was now in the world, but not of the world.
Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24).