By the end of 1979, I was also ready to launch out into politics by working for the Liberal Party of Canada. The Conservatives had recently come to power, and the Liberals were getting ready to choose a new leader. I thought there was an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a new era of party re-building. It didn’t work out, because the Conservative government was overturned and the Liberals fought and won an election in February 1980 under their old leader, Pierre Trudeau. There was no room for amateurs like me in that campaign, and I was relegated to the sidelines.
Things also worked out differently than I expected at the new company. It became apparent our plans to open in Montreal were not going to materialize. At the end of March 1980 I gave three months’ notice. I had a lot of prospects for interesting new jobs, but then something completely unexpected happened. I had agreed to become a member of the church where I had attended the Bible study. I had received a number of new insights there, and read a book called “Mere Christianity” by a famous author named C. S. Lewis, which dealt with the reasonableness of Christianity. As soon as I made my vows in that church, all my job prospects evaporated! The company offered to keep me on as a consultant, and I agreed – I had no other prospects, and I needed the money. It was a humbling experience.
Early in 1980 I had also become involved in an effort to keep a school in our town from closing. I had presented our brief to the school board, and we were successful in seeing the school stay open. From that effort I emerged as the head of a citizen’s group that backed a slate of candidates in the school board elections that fall. We got a lot of publicity, but only our incumbents won – all our new people were defeated. The next year I tried to direct the movement along a path I thought would broaden its base, but the other members disagreed with me, so I resigned. My wife was complaining I was away from home too much, and she needed help. That turned out to be the end of my political career. Although I am still interested even now in political news, an amazing series of events began at that time in my life which eventually convinced me politics was not the path for me.
I was given a book called “The Helper,” written by a Christian author named Catherine Marshall. It summarized all the material in the Bible about the Holy Spirit, and presented Him as the living personal power of God that man can experience in this life. I had of course heard of the Holy Spirit, but had no idea Who He was or what the Bible said about Him. I also read a book called “There’s a New World Coming” by Hal Lindsey, which is a verse-by-verse analysis of the Book of Revelation. Instead of the medieval view I had rejected in university, I found a view that centred around the eventual emergence of an evil world ruler. He would falsely present himself as the Saviour or Messiah of Israel, in place of Jesus Christ, but Jesus would destroy him upon His return to Earth to establish a thousand-year era of peace. This analysis fit so well with current events that I found it mind-boggling! In particular, certain passages in the Book of Revelation alarmed me that this leader could turn out to be the very leader of the transcendental meditation movement I had been involved in for five years!
I quit the practice of transcendental meditation. Then a phone call came offering me a job interview for a professor’s position at the University of Prince Edward Island. A voice in my mind said, “THIS will really tempt you!” I knew it wasn’t what I was supposed to do, but I was so desperate for a fulfilling path in life I went for the interview. I also went back to transcendental meditation, because I felt I couldn’t survive without it. Soon I went back with my whole family for a second interview, got the job, and put in an offer to buy a house in Charlottetown. The only condition on final acceptance was that our farm would sell.
In that year, 1981, mortgage interest rates were twenty percent. As I recall, only one person even looked at our property in a month and a half. Eventually I told the university’s department head he should start looking for someone else. I also quit the practice of transcendental meditation forever when my wife gave me a book for our anniversary that spoke against it.
When I did so, I felt I needed some kind of extra support. So, although I had reached the point of only requiring an occasional maintenance dose of the anti-depressant medication, I went back full-strength to my original dosage. When I had started on it in the summer of 1978, that dosage had almost knocked me out. This time, to my amazement, I had no side effects, and even felt good! Later on, the minister at my church gave me a book called “The Spirit-Controlled Temperament”, by Tim LaHaye, which provided the answer to the question I had been trying very persistently to resolve for some time – why had I become so depressed? It was simple – anger, and self-pity.
After about three weeks, the department head phoned me to tell me he had found someone else for the position. I took our farm off the market and went off the medication for good. That same day, I got a call from Bell-Northern Research, inviting me to a job interview. I had made an application to them early in February, but had not pursued it because the job in question turned out to be in Toronto. They had kept my resume on file. During my pursuit of the university job, I had felt an inclination to be at Bell-Northern instead. But, I turned the interview down because I knew I had made a mistake in going for the university position, and thought perhaps I should stay where I was. But the job fit was so good, I phoned back a few minutes later and asked if I could still have an interview. The interview went smoothly, and shortly afterward I was offered the job at exactly the salary I had asked for.
At the same time, my company also offered me a new position, to start up a new division on a profit-sharing basis. Even though I was excited about the job with Bell-Northern, I was inclined to accept my company’s offer because it represented yet another opportunity to pursue the ideals I had held for so long. When we discussed it at home, our older daughter asked me how much overtime I’d have to work if I did so. “Not much,” I said. “I’d keep it down.” That was a lie, and I knew it. “How much overtime would you have to work with Bell-Northern?” she asked. “None,” I said – I’d already checked that out in my interview. “We want you to work for Bell-Northern!” she stated firmly. That did it – my mind was made up.
That night, I felt so happy! I was back in science (engineering, actually), with the leading R&D firm in Canada! My wife and I got talking about various things, including Christianity. I had been attempting to talk to people about some of the things I was discovering in Christianity, without much success. “Why can’t I save anybody?” I cried. (“Save” is a Christian term for the process that occurs in a person’s life when he or she becomes a Christian.) All of a sudden, it struck me I wasn’t even saved myself, despite all that had happened to me. I rushed downstairs to my favourite chair, where I knelt to invite Jesus into my life yet again. By then I had already prayed that type of prayer on several different occasions, and at the previous one had felt an inner prompting to let go of my control over my own life. I had resisted that prompting. Now I felt it again. My first reaction was to refuse again, because if I thought if I gave in, I would die. However, my next thought was, what did it matter if I did die? My life had actually turned out to be quite a mess, and if I did die I’d be with Jesus. So, I surrendered that control. To my amazement, I did not die, but instead heard a beautiful voice in my mind. I can only describe it as “liquid silver”. “Will you give Me your life?” He asked. “Yes, Lord,” I answered. The next question was one I did not really understand. “Will you put Me ahead of your family?” Because I didn’t feel I was in any position to argue, I simply said, “Yes, Lord.” That was all I could take. I got up to my knees and opened my Bible to three separate places in quick succession. Each time, I immediately understood completely brand new things from those passages.
That was the night of July 8, 1981. My start date with Bell-Northern was August 17. Meanwhile I had to finish up my current assignment, which was a systems contract for the Prime Minister’s Office. (Interesting, isn’t it, how my attraction to political leadership worked out in the end?) There was an extensive library on the floor where I worked, and I used to browse through it at lunch time. I read one book from it, called “Born Again,” by Charles Colson. Colson had worked for Richard Nixon during the Watergate era, and afterward became a Christian. I had followed his political exploits with interest, and hated him. Even the title of the book put me off – it was Christian terminology that was gaining popular currency at the time, but to which I was not very partial. Nevertheless, for some reason I read it. The book told how Colson became a Christian, decided he had to plead guilty to some of the charges being laid against him, and was supported by a small group of Christian men (including one of his most bitter political foes) through his trial and imprisonment, and afterward. I decided this was the type of fellowship I needed, and if there wasn’t such a group at my new workplace, I would start one.
It turned out there was such a group at Bell-Northern. I started attending their meetings regularly. They were nothing like what I had ever encountered before in church. Some of those people were really quite different! Nevertheless, I felt God wanted me there, and continued to attend regularly despite the fact that I was not always comfortable doing so.
After about six months, one of the people in the group gave me a magazine. I was quite angry – I knew it was some kind of Christian propaganda they favoured that I wouldn’t agree with! I went back to my desk and threw the magazine down. But then, it was as if I had to read it! It contained the life stories of different men, all of whom had had a different spiritual experience – one a vision, another a special dream, and another miraculously healed from a sickness. I had been looking for this kind of thing all my life!
There was also an invitation to attend a rally put on by the group that published the magazine – an organization known as Full Gospel Business Men. I decided I would have to go, to check out their claims. There I heard a speaker describe how he had received Jesus into his own life, and how his wife had been miraculously healed of a serious illness. Part way through his talk I realized he was going to invite people to come up to the front of the room for prayer after he finished speaking. I decided there was no way I would go up there. However, in my mind I heard a voice saying, “If you don’t go up, you won’t be able to stay as a born-again Christian.” I thought God was threatening me, so when the call came, I went up along with many others. When I was prayed for, I experienced a beautiful power that came into the innermost part of my being, energizing me and adding a new dimension to my experience. Later I learned that this was the power of the Holy Spirit, and without it I would have been unable to carry on in the Christian life. I came to see that one of my problems in university had been the lack of this power.
I joined that organization, and served in it for over 16 years, until 1998. We sponsored breakfast and dinner meetings open to the public in hotels and restaurants, where people could hear speakers and come forward for prayer just as I had. I went forward myself many times, and had many wonderful experiences of God’s living presence.
One of the first things I had to do was to make sense of everything that had happened to me, and to fit it into all my previous background. This happened. Many new perspectives came to me, with new insights into the scientific world and into history. I also found the Bible was now easily understandable, and began to “gobble up” its contents.