A faulty foundation
In Luke 6:48-49, the Bible talks about the importance of a foundation:
“He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
Our foundation is the basis for the priorities in our lives, both at home and at work. Prior to 1977, my foundation was ME; and it was weak and unstable. This adversely affected my business and personal life, which included my relationship with my wife Norma and our children. I thought I had a good life. I was married and had three children. I had a PhD in chemistry and I owned a Canadian company with 50 employees. By many people’s standards, I was successful.
But everything in my life was centred on me. I had worked long hours in university to get degrees. When I went to work in industry, I worked even longer hours to get ahead and to obtain recognition. In 1972, I co-founded of a company and spent even longer hours at work. My drive for success was the centre of my life but I neglected my wife and children. My foundation determined the priorities in my life. It looked something like this:
The result of these priorities was that I worked long hours to get ahead, not because of financial need, but more to satisfy the needs of my own ego. I didn’t ask my wife and children if they would rather have me make more money or spend more time with them. I had no proper foundation for ethics in my personal life or for my business. As a result, my company barely survived and there were many conflicts and tensions at work. There was not much peace and joy, just temporary happiness in the few good times. My weak foundation and wrong priorities led to a lifestyle of too much drinking, poor ethical standards and pride.
Norma and I were married in 1951 when we were both 21-year-old students attending university in Oregon. I received my master’s degree in 1952 and was drafted into the US army shortly afterwards. Norma went back to university and received her bachelor’s degree while carrying our first child. After that, we moved to Seattle where I worked in an army laboratory.
The day we brought our new son home from the hospital, I received orders to go to Japan. When I returned a year later, I went back to university and obtained a Ph D in chemistry. Our second son was born during these school years and our third child, a daughter, was born in 1958 after I obtained a management position in a pulp company research and development organization in Washington State.
In 1964, we moved to Princeton, New Jersey so I could make more money in another pulp and paper research laboratory. Then in 1966, we moved to Vancouver, Canada to work for another company, where I became corporate technical director. In 1972, a partner and I founded Econotech Services Ltd., an organization dedicated to providing technical support for pulp and paper companies. The company grew from 11 people to over 60 by 1992.
Despite my success in business, our married life was not at all happy. Norma and I really had little in common since our likes and dislikes were totally different. Our priorities for spending money and ideas of an enjoyable vacation were also very different. Norma even lived with the fear that I was going to say I wanted to leave her.
After we moved to Canada in 1966, Norma started to attend a Bible study. She had always believed in God and knew the Bible was true, but she really didn’t know what the Bible said. She believed she would go to heaven just because she was morally good. So she tried to be kind and helpful to her family and friends. But through studying the Bible, Norma learned that she could have a personal relationship with God through his, Son Jesus Christ. She needed that peace and direction to help her carry on with life and raising the family.
In 1967, Norma prayed and asked forgiveness for her sin of wanting to control her own life and asked God to take charge of it. Her life didn’t become trouble-free after that point. However, God was always there to help her through the hard times.
I was not interested in spiritual things, and since Norma was not a very forceful person, she didn’t push to get involved in a church. She continued to go to Bible study, but for the rest of the time, she followed the kind of life that I wanted to lead. Norma continued to pray for me and asked the Lord to do anything that it would take to bring me to know God, even if it meant taking her life – but God had a different plan.
The foundation begins to crack
For several years our twenty-year-old son Alan had told me about what Jesus meant to him and that I needed Jesus in my life. But I told him I didn’t need Jesus. I could do everything myself. I had college degrees and a successful business, after all. As a chemist, I had tried to prove or disprove the existence of God as I would a chemical reaction in the lab. The tests came up empty, so I ignored God. I hadn’t read his instruction book – the Bible – so I didn’t understand what he was talking about. Alan told his pastor, “My dad will never become a Christian.”
In 1977, Alan became seriously ill with pressure in his head and had to have several operations. One day, he went into a violent seizure while resting at home. Norma rode with him in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, and I met them there. When the ambulance arrived at the hospital, Alan’s heart stopped beating, and they took him into the Emergency Room to try to restart his heart. I stood outside watching as they worked on him and suddenly realized something that literally floored me: I could do nothing to help him. My college degrees, my business, and my money were of no use to Alan. With my son hovering on the brink of life and death, there was nothing I could do. I didn’t even know how to pray. Besides, I didn’t know if God would hear my prayer since I had ignored him for most of my life. All at once, my weak foundation began to crumble!
They managed to restart Alan’s heart, but he stayed in the hospital with a serious head infection and pressure on his brain from then on. He went through a lot of suffering with operations, high fever, and pain in his head, but he never complained. The nurses thought very highly of him. Alan told me, “God has a purpose in everything and, Dad, if God’s purpose in my suffering is to bring you to know Jesus, then everything I’m going through is worth it.”
This had a tremendous impact on me! My son’s words convinced me that this Jesus he believed in must be real. I started reading Alan’s Bible to him at his bedside, and for the first time began to realize that Jesus was real. I learned that Jesus died for my sins on the cross (John 3:16) and if I believed in him, I would have eternal life. Alan was certain that if he died he would have eternal life.
A new foundation takes shape
About three weeks later, on July 3, 1977, I asked Jesus to take charge of my life. I really didn’t know that much about Jesus. I was like the thief on the cross who asked Jesus to remember him (Luke 23:42, 43). I just asked him to be my Lord and Savior. I knew He could do a much better job of directing my life than I had been doing. Norma and I went into the hospital and told Alan that Jesus was now my Lord and Savior. Alan was so happy! This meant so much to him since he had always wanted his father to know Jesus.
About a month later, Alan went into a coma and the doctor told us that his brain was no longer functioning because of all the pressure and infection. Norma and I spent a lot of time at Alan’s bedside for the next few days until he died. We both had expected Alan to live and were deeply saddened by his death. This was quite a shock to me as a one-month-old believer. I had so looked forward to sharing my Christian life with him.
We were very sad that he had died, but since Jesus was our Lord and Savior we knew Alan was happy with his Lord and Savior and was getting all of his questions answered. We had the complete assurance that we would see him again in heaven for eternity. This gave Norma and me tremendous peace and hope, as is promised in Philippians 4:7,
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
A new life with new priorities
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:l7 that, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” This certainly was true for me; my life changed 180 degrees! My conversion gave me a new foundation for my personal, family and business life. It changed from the shifting sands based on my own self to the solid rock of God. This dramatically changed my life and my priorities. Like the apostle Paul, I considered most of my past rubbish that I may gain Christ (Phil 3:7–11). Now my priorities are:
1. my relationship with God
2. my relationship with my wife and family
3. serving God
4. my business
There was an immediate change in my life in 1977, and there has been an ongoing change ever since. As I have read the Bible and experienced God’s faithfulness, I have grown in my Christian walk and strengthened my priorities. My relationship with God is based on a personal relationship with Jesus and is not based on a religion or a particular church. The Bible is my reference book for both my business and my personal life. It is the only true, unchanging basis for life.
My relationship with God
Since I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior, my relationship with God has strengthened year by year. The first few years, I couldn’t get enough of reading the Bible, attending Bible studies, and going to church. I learned how the Old Testament points to the coming of Jesus and to the salvation to be provided by Him on the cross. This was all prophesied many times in the Old Testament. A description of the crucifixion was written in Psalm 22 many years before crucifixion was even known. I learned that we are all born with a broken relationship with God and the only way we can be right in God’s eyes is through Jesus taking the punishment for us on the cross. I still cannot understand the depth of the love of God shown by the cross. Jesus knew when He came to earth that He would be crucified. Though He dreaded the physical and emotional agony of the cross, He still willingly went to take our punishment (John 3:16).
My relationship with God is based on time spent in prayer and Bible study, and thanking God for what he has done in my life. I have learned that the most important thing to God is our love relationship to Him, and this is more important than what we do for Him. The work we do in the church and in traveling around the world sharing our story is to say thank you to God and not to try to earn our salvation. Jesus earned it on the cross. The Bible commands us to tell others about Jesus and God’s love for them (Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19–20, 2 Corinthians 5:18–21).
My relationship with Norma and the family
Priority number two in my life is my relationship with Norma and the children. As I said before, I neglected them for many years. I was 47 years old when I asked Christ into my life and had been married for 26 years. Those were 26 difficult years for Norma. Now I give very high priority to spending time with her and doing Christian activities together. We also spend time with our two children and four grandchildren when they are available. Most older people look back on their lives and wish they had spent more time with their family and less time at work. I’m taking that to heart.
The change in my life took place about ten years after Norma had turned her own life over to Christ. This brought me to the point of becoming a believer, and it also strengthened Norma’s faith. We became totally aware of the sovereignty of God. Because of God’s grace, we never became angry with God when Alan died. We never asked, “Why Alan or why us?” We knew God’s purpose was being worked out. Norma truly learned that,
“In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose,” just as the Bible says (Rom 8:28).
We didn’t know what good would come from it, but God did. Now we have a totally different focus and purpose for our lives. Norma is now free to be involved in our local church and lead Bible studies as well as attend them. She realizes we should never stop learning from God’s Word. Since we have the same goals for our lives, our desire is to serve God and to serve each other. She can now look to me as head of the family. Since I now desire to follow God’s commands, she no longer has the fear that I will leave her. In her old age, if she should become incapacitated in any way, she knows I will always be there to encourage and care for her. Norma also has the total assurance that we will be together for eternity. Now, it’s a wonderful life.
My relationship With God
Since I became a Christian in 1977, we have been very active in our local church and have been involved in missions work with Campus Crusade for Christ, Canada. Since 1992, we have gone on about six international trips a year telling the story of our lives to leaders in business, professions and government. These trips have included many cities in Latin America, Russia, the Middle East, Africa and other countries. Both Norma and I usually speak. We try to be very open and transparent in telling people about what God has done in our lives, following the apostle Paul’s example in 1 Corinthians 2:4,
“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the spirit’s power.”
God seems to use our testimony to draw people to know Him. There is no greater joy than being used by God to impact someone’s life for eternity.
We have also enjoyed showing the JESUS film, which is based on the book of Luke. We have been involved in six JESUS film projects in different Latin American countries. God does not require special skills, speaking ability or evangelistic skills. He just wants each of us to be available and to step out in faith trusting Him. In Acts 1:8, He promises to give us power from the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses close to home and to the ends of the earth.
Another way of serving God is for us to meet with others one-on-one for mentoring, discipleship, and accountability. We discuss what we are studying in the Bible, what is going on in our lives, and our relationship with God. We encourage people to read the Bible, memorize scripture, spend time with God in prayer, and tell others about Jesus. We have asked many people to go on international trips with us to see what God is doing in other countries.
Since our business is now fourth on my priority list, some people might conclude that the business has done poorly since I became a Christian. But exactly the opposite is true. Econotech is now God’s company. He is Chairman of the Board, and the company is designed to serve Him any way it can. This involves using a lot of the company’s profit to sponsor Christian outreach work around the world. It also provides time off for me to do Christian work, and allows other staff time to do Christian work as well.
My new foundation has better equipped my company and I to compete in North America and the world. First and most important, we now have a proper foundation for personal and company ethics. In the past, the company was honest on general principles – meaning we didn’t want to get caught. That is not good enough to compete. A company has to be 100% ethical to survive. If you cheat a customer, they will not come back, and they will tell others! If you are completely honest and trustworthy, they will also tell others. When I asked Christ to be my Savior and Lord, he gave me the Holy Spirit to be with me all the time. The Spirit in me became my conscience and warns me when I consider unethical decisions. It is like having Jesus sitting in my office, so I try to do what I think he wants me to do. And business has never been better!
Perhaps it’s time you asked Jesus to reveal the path you should walk. If you don’t know Jesus, we encourage you to pray the following prayer:
Lord Jesus, I want to know You personally. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of my life. Make me be the person You want me to be. Amen.
Is it the desire of your heart to make this prayer yours? If yes, pray now and according to his promise, Jesus Christ will come into your life.