Finding the Right Answer
A peace officer finds peace. by Bill Holland as told to Muriel Larson
The wails of two small children greeted my ears as I entered the trailer house. Trained as a criminal investigator to observe quickly, I took in the scene at a glance. It was not a pretty sight.
The children's mother sat dully in a chair, a 26-gauge shotgun at her feet. On the floor sprawled her husband's body. Nearby, a TV set blared away, unwatched.
In my work for the Maryland State Police I was called out many nights to investigate violent death. Brutal scenes like the one I saw that night reminded me of the futility of life.
So did my marriage. Despite our three beautiful children, our family life was a disaster. The only communication my wife Shirley and I had was in shouting brawls. She went her way, I went mine -- partying, drinking, cheating on each other. I couldn't see any way out. The more life became a burdensome futility to me, the more I drank.
Searching for an answer, I talked to a minister. "What can we do?" I asked.
He spread his hands helplessly. "I don't know what to tell you," he answered. "I've never heard of such a fouled up mess!"
So I turned to medicine and psychiatry. My doctor hospitalized me for tests, but the examination only proved what I already knew: My depression was caused by anxiety. Shirley and I tried group therapy with another couple with similar problems, but that didn't help either.
In a final desperate attempt to salvage our marriage, we sold our small home to buy a large one. The anticipated move gave us more trouble. We argued over every little decision.
As we were moving out of our old house, Shirley told me she was leaving me. I pled with her to stay for the children's sake, but she wouldn't listen. "I've had all I can take!" she exclaimed.
"At least leave the children with me until you get settled," I urged. She agreed it would be best.
Although Shirley and I had been miserable living together, I was even more miserable without her. At this time I was called to investigate one suicide after another. Such deaths are always unpleasant, yet I had an overpowering thought: Maybe that's the answer for me, too.
I carried a service revolver; it would be an easy matter. My sense of futility in life would be ended forever. But though I feared life, I feared death more. I couldn't do it.
One night I sat on my bed, a beaten man, wanting to somehow stop living. Looking around the room, I found no reason for existence. Suddenly, an inner voice told me, "Turn on the TV." Mechanically, I leaned over and flicked it on.
A large choir was singing a hymn. I stared and listened numbly. Then evangelist Billy Graham appeared on the screen. At the end of his message he seemed to speak right to me:
"Jesus Christ paid the penalty for your sins. He died for you on the cross. If you will receive Him as your Savior tonight, you will have eternal life beginning right now. You will find hope and the answers to life's problems."
The answer to life's problems! It all made sense. I felt as if my eyes had just been opened for the first time. As the televised invitation to receive Jesus Christ was given, I threw myself on my knees beside my bed.
"Lord, I'm a terrible sinner!" I cried. "I'm confessing my sins to You right now." Then I poured out every sin I could think of that I had committed. I ended by saying, "Lord, save me. I believe that Christ died for my sins."
When I got up, I felt like a new man. Peace and joy flooded my heart. I opened my Bible, and this time I understood its message. I found verses in the New Testament that confirmed my faith in Christ.
When I awoke the next morning, I felt great! Life was no longer a thing to be feared. Now I was content to live life as God laid it out: a moment at a time.
At work that day I was assigned a traffic patrol with another state trooper. I noticed that Jack had some pieces of literature on his dashboard, so I asked him about them. He said they were Christian tracts and that I could have one.
I started reading. God's way of salvation through Jesus Christ was spelled out so clearly, I exclaimed, "I've never seen anything like this before!" Then I told Jack that I had just accepted Jesus Christ the night before.
"Praise God!" he responded. "I'm a new Christian, too! Say, how about coming to church with me?"
That weekend I attended church with Jack and publicly declared my faith in Christ. Several weeks later I started attending a Christian school where Jack took courses.
And Shirley? The night after I enrolled in school, I receive word that she had tried to commit suicide. When she got out of the hospital, she called me. "I can't stand being separated from my children," she said. "Can't we get back together again?"
I told her that her call was an answer to prayer, that I no longer drank, and that I had found purpose in living. She gladly came home again.
Shirley couldn't comprehend what had happened to me at first, but she liked the new me. It wasn't long before she received Christ as her Savior. Our family found peace -- and more: We have the Answer to life's problems now!