Hayden's Personal Tesimony
Sometime during 2004 or 2005, I was in a hotel in Nashville, TN, repacking my bag or making coffee or something, when a preacher came on the TV. I usually would’ve grabbed the remote to change the channel but I didn’t this time. I really wasn’t paying much attention to the program but I was still hearing the preacher’s words. At the end of the broadcast, the preacher asked for the listening audience to say a simple prayer, asking God to come into their hearts. I surprised myself when I began to pray, but not exactly what the preacher was suggesting regarding accepting Jesus Christ as my personal savior. Instead, my prayer went something like this: “God, I want to believe you exist but I’m not sure you are real. Honestly, I find it difficult to believe what others say about you. But if you are real, come into my heart and show me so I will know.”
Nothing happened. As the hours went by there was no answer from God or anyone else. Nothing happened the next day. Or the next. Weeks went by. Then months. Then years. I forgot the whole incident; at least in my conscious mind.
Then, in the late Fall of 2007 after an exhausting three month sixty city tour with Clint, I came home and found that my wife, Diane, had a brand new interest in Christianity. In the rational part of my mind, I wrote it off as a phase she was going through, but immediately things began surfacing in my own awareness. First, I was drawn to a book I saw in a bookstore. I bought the book, Don Piper’s “90 Minutes In Heaven” and read it in one sitting. After finishing and contemplating Don’s amazing story, I turned on the TV later that night and found a program on PBS regarding scientific astronomical evidence of the star of Bethlehem, corroborating the story of Christ’s birth as it was told in the book of Matthew in the Bible. Without ceasing, everywhere I turned in the following days and weeks, messages regarding God and Jesus began turning up everywhere in my life.
Within a month, while attending a Christmas Eve service at a local church with my wife, Diane, and my six year old son, Colton, something happened. I can’t explain it other than to say something not of this material world entered the deepest parts of my being. A heat rose from my chest to my face; a heat full of a love I had never known. My emotional response was overwhelming as I struggled to stop the flow of tears streaming down my face. The experience had nothing to do with any spoken words. There was no sermon asking for me to give my life to Jesus. There was just the Christmas songs that most of us have heard many times. But everything changed from that moment on. I accepted Jesus in my heart. I gave my entire life to Him.
Looking back on it, I now know that God had finally answered that prayer I made years earlier in that Nashville hotel. But God answered it in HIS time preference, not mine. It’s easy to see now that many things had to occur in my life before I would be ready to open the door that God had been knocking on for so long.
Soon I was centering my prayers around the specifics of what God wanted me to do with my life. I knew I was given a gift of music so that seemed a no-brainer. I eagerly began writing songs expressing my newfound faith, many of them with Bryan Austin in Nashville, but I felt something still missing regarding God’s will for my life. This feeling nagged me for months. I began a prayer vigil, beseeching God for an answer regarding what else I needed to do. When the answer came I was not prepared for how it would come, or what it would be.
One day, after months of praying almost nonstop, I finally heard the answer as if someone had spoken into my ear in a small still voice. No humans were near me. There were few words, so the answer was clear and precise, leaving no doubt regarding this missing part of God’s will for me. I was to write again.
My reaction was: “Really, God? You have to be kidding! I don’t want to write anymore!” I had put writing books behind me years earlier. I didn’t want to write a book. Been there. Done that. Writing was too time consuming and mentally draining. Besides, I had no earthly idea of what to write about.
Nevertheless, I made a decision to obey and trust God. I would pursue HIS will for me, not my own will. Within days I was sitting in front of my laptop, staring at the blank screen like an artist stares at a blank canvas not knowing what to paint. Gradually, ideas began to form in my head; many of them appearing from seemingly nowhere when I awoke from a night’s sleep. It was a long and gradual process but God partnered with me hour after hour, month after month, amazing me with the direction of the story that seemed to come from some place other than my own mind. My love of writing grew each day that I wrote, with God as my partner all the way. A year later I completed “Ezekiel’s Choice,” a work of fiction in the thriller genre. It’s a story of a man’s spiritual redemption in the wake of a national tragedy; a story full of factual insights with a touch of the supernatural thrown in.
After completing the manuscript I immediately began another. I’ve since written two other manuscripts, much of them written in hotels, planes, and tour buses as we tour the country playing our music. “Ezekiel’s Choice” will be my first book in print, released in the Spring of 2013 with Westbow Press.
I should add that at the time of my little prayer in that Nashville hotel, as well as the Christmas Eve service in 2007, my viewpoint of the circumstances of my life were not perceived by me as being in disarray. Quite frankly, I had experienced a brokenness in the years previous to my hotel prayer, but by the time of my prayer, those hardships seemed to have worked themselves out. I accepted that all those ordeals were all just part of life, which they are, but I had hardened my heart in the process: I had gotten through these tough times alone. I didn’t need anybody anymore. I didn’t need a God. “Sure, everyone is going to die,” I would say to myself. “I will die too like everyone else. So I won’t be experiencing anything different than what everyone else will experience. And I’m not a horrible person. If there is a heaven and hell, I won’t be going to hell. So let’s move on with life. It’s up to me and me alone if things are going to continue to get better.”
God knew that I had mentally rationalized the situations of life and was lost unless He intervened. Which He did. Diane and our son, Colton, also gave their lives to Christ. Our lives are now full of something I can’t put into words, not just periods of happiness which come and go with the circumstances of life, but a joy that transcends all situations we face in life on this Earth.
William Holman Hunt’s life-size painting “The Light Of The World” which hangs in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London depicts Christ knocking on the exterior of a door covered in overgrown weeds and limbs. The significant feature is the lack of of any handle on the exterior of the door. From Rev 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me."
That day when God knocked on my door at the Nashville hotel, I’m glad I invited Him in. . . .