Getting Back on Track
by Marvin Kehler
Oliver Wendell Holmes once said:
“I find that in this world it is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.”
Mr. Holmes is right: we are all moving in a direction, and it is very important for us to stop and check to see if we are still moving toward the right destination. I have learned this more than one time in my life.
Just Dragged Along….
I was born in a small town in southern Manitoba. My parents moved to BC when I was fourteen years old because they knew if I stayed there, I would soon be in serious trouble.
I have always loved excitement. If something wasn’t happening, I would make it happen. I disliked school and I loved sports, especially hockey. You could say my life back then was a lot like this guy who was going for a bike ride when his chain came off. As he was trying to fix it, a blue Mustang pulled up alongside him. The driver suggested they tie the bike to the car and tow it back into town. “Just ring your bell if I’m going to fast,” the driver said.
No sooner did they get the bike hitched up when a yellow Corvette pulled up alongside the Mustang and challenged the driver to a drag.
As the two cars raced down the freeway, a policeman saw them and radioed back to base. “Pick up this blue Mustang and yellow Corvette. They’re going 100 miles an hour.” Then he paused. “Just a minute. You won’t believe this, but there’s a guy on a bike right behind them. He’s ringing his bell like a madman and I think he’s trying to pass!”
That may sound funny, but I was just like the guy on the bike - going as fast as I could. Life seemed exciting, but really, I was just being pulled along.
A Direction-Changing Experience at Camp
When I was twelve-years-old, I decided to go to a Christian summer camp, mostly because it sounded like a lot of fun. But I had to memorize 100 Bible verses in order to go. With a lot of help from my mother, I did it.
My Sunday school teacher was at this Bible camp. His style was exactly opposite to mine. While I was spontaneous and impulsive, he was very steady and detail orientated. But he did have a certain quality that I really admired: He truly cared for me and loved me.
One morning after breakfast, he asked me to come with him for a walk. We sat down under a tree. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “Marvin, don’t you want to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?”
Making a commitment to Christ was something that I wanted to do, but I hadn’t planned on doing until I was older. Inside I knew that it was the right thing to do. But that morning sitting under that tree, I was touched by how much this man cared for me. So I bowed my head and asked Jesus to forgive my sins, come into my heart, and make me the kind of person he wanted me to be.
I had no great feeling at this point. I just remember a strong sense of relief, like a knot in my stomach had gone away. It was like I KNEW this is what I was created for. That day, I started on the course of life that God had chosen for me. My course was set; my goal was heaven. But I had a few things I wanted to do before I got there…
A Head for Business
My father always encouraged me in the abilities he observed in me. One of strengths he saw was the ability to multiply money. I was a real Tom Sawyer type. When I had to pile firewood, I would let me friends ride my pony if they would pile a certain amount of wood. When I went to Winnipeg with my family, I bought three cap guns then sold two to my friends back at home for double the price. Seeing this, my father told me I would make a good businessman.
It helped that I enjoyed work. I could work 12 hours a day and still not be tired. After Kathy and I were married, I used the money we made to help finance a church camp. I also bought myself a lot of toys - a boat, horses, nice cars, and so forth. But at the same time, I started to slowly drift off course. I had taken my eyes off the right goal.
God blessed our hard work, and by the time we were 32, we had reached our financial goals. But that knot in my stomach returned again. My priorities were wrong. My life was like a vacuum cleaner bag that was too full. There was no suction, no power. I had made money, but now I was constantly afraid of losing it. It seemed like I was holding water in my hand, and the tighter I tried to hold it, the more ran through.
I remember standing in one of my barns one winter during a heavy, wet snowfall. The roof of the barn was threatening to cave in. I had done everything I could to prevent it, and I was totally exhausted. All I could do was wait and hope. It was one of those rare moments when I actually prayed. “God if you save this barn from caving in, I’ll do anything you want me to do.” The barn didn’t cave in, but I sure did. I forgot about the prayer until some time later. I had lost sight of my goal and I was dissatisfied with life. So, like a fanatic, I doubled my efforts. Soon I was involved in many more businesses.
It didn’t take long before I began to realize that material things didn’t satisfy. About this time, a businessman and my brother-in-law encouraged Kathy and me to go to a conference put on by Campus Crusade for Christ in California. California was warm and sunny while it was a cold and rainy November in BC - not a difficult decision. We decided to go but we took a number of people with us.
Getting Back on Track
It was at this conference that I finally learned how to live a full and purpose-filled life. I learned that I didn’t have to live the Christian life in my own strength - Christ wanted to live his life in and though me. But he wanted to be president of my life - not just resident.
That week, Katherine and I committed our time, our treasure, and our abilities to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I decided to give it a six-month trial - but when six months had passed, I never looked back. My goal became to seek the Lord and His righteousness and to help fulfil our Lord’s Great Commission.
Someone made a statement that week that greatly influenced my thinking. He said:
“Until you have changed the hearts of men, you haven’t changed anything at all.”
I didn’t really want to accept that at first, because I had done a lot of good things. But I began asking God to give me an eternal perspective on everything I did. As I began to let God direct my life, my priorities started to change. The Bible became the authority for all of my decisions. It became the compass to keep me on course.
After I made that commitment, I cut back on my business and began to work with Campus Crusade for Christ. I realized that everything I had was the Lord’s. I was just the manager, so I shouldn’t hold onto things too tightly.
God made this clear to me soon after I'd made this commitment to follow Christ. All of our chickens caught a disease. Egg production came almost to a standstill. Surprisingly, I did not panic. I realized that everything I had was God’s and if He wanted the chickens to die, that was all right. They were, after all, His chickens.
This decision also impacted my work as a youth leader in our church. Even though I had always been fairly successful with youth, this group just did not seem to respond until I allowed the Lord to direct my life. Instead of majoring in entertainment, like we had been doing, we started majoring in proclaiming the gospel. A number of these young people were doing drugs - some of them were drug pushers in our area. So we began challenging them to commit their lives to Jesus Christ and help change the world - to become part of the solution instead of part of the problem. Our home was open to these young people every Monday night. Within a period of one year, over 100 young people committed their lives to the Lord. They then went into their high school and the local pool hall and challenged their peers and teachers with the gospel.
The result was changed lives! And a changed community! One of the fathers and a teacher in the local school told us that the morals, morale, and academic achievement of their students had greatly improved because of these positive, enthusiastic young people. The owner of the school bus system said behaviour on the buses had also improved.
Through all of this, God wanted to show me what he could do through me if I was available. And soon I knew without a shadow of a doubt that there was nothing that I would rather be doing than introducing people to Christ and helping them grow in their faith. That’s why we joined Campus Crusade for Christ, to be involved in winning people to Christ, building them in their faith, training them, and sending them out to win, build and train others.
Two years after I first attended that conference in California, Dr. Bill Bright, the founder and president of Campus Crusade, asked me to become the national director of Campus Crusade in Canada. I took up the challenge and sold most of my businesses to free up my time for ministry.
Campus Crusade for Christ’s goals have always been impossible without the Lord. But we know that God’s love and power know no bounds and barriers. Therefore, our plans should know no bounds or barriers. We have been given the opportunity to use technology, communication tools, manpower, and money to do the will of God
Still Checking My Compass
I am still very much in love with the Lord. I trust him more than I ever have. But I still have to check my compass daily to see if I am on track.