Story and Why
The Nightmare of a Five Year Old
by Neil Westra
(At age 35 this is how God got my attention. I had this story made into a gospel tract.)
We lived in a huge old farm house that was so big the owners split into a two family home. Ed and Cora, the owners, were our neighbors and our landlord. We rented one half while they lived in the other half. Ed was a retired preacher with the Salvation Army. He was from Scotland and spoke with a real Scottish brogue. I just loved to hear him talk, except when he preached to me about getting saved. He and Cora witnessed to me every chance they had. My best friend at that time was a preacher at the local U. B. church. we did almost everything together and he witnessed to me a great deal also.
We had moved to the farm in the early sixties and my wife became a Christian in 1966. One by one our children were saved as soon as they were old enough to know and be accountable. Casey, our oldest boy, was first. Then Rene, our only daughter. After that came Joe, Our youngest son.
December 1st 1969 was a normal day as days go. Nothing unusual happened. My family and I went to bed at our usual time. As we went to bed that night, little did I know that that night would change my life forever. Sometime in the middle of the night I woke up to our youngest son, Joe, Screaming at the top of his lungs. Like any good father, I pushed my wife out of bed and told her to "shut that kid up before he wakes the neighbors." I then rolled over and went back to sleep.
The next morning as I sat at the kitchen table drinking coffee and smoking, I asked my wife, "What was that kid hollering about last night? He could wake up the whole neighborhood."
She replied, "Why don't you ask him. He's coming down stairs now."
As Joe came into the kitchen, I said, "Come here Joe, and sit on my lap. What were you screaming about last night? You could wake up all the neighbors." Instantly, tears came into his eyes and ran down his cheeks, as he looked up at me. "Daddy" he said, "I had an awful dream last night. I dreamed that Casey, Rene, Momma and me all went up to be with Jesus and you went down to be with the devil."
It was as if I had been stabbed right in the heart. I pushed that kid off my lap, grabbed my lunch bucket, and ran out the door. I jumped into the car and headed to the expressway to go to work. Just then a thought came into my mind. "If I get on that expressway and have an accident, and get killed, I'll go straight to hell." I turned at the next corner and took all the back roads to work. I have NEVER driven a car as carefully as I did that morning.
All morning at work I was beside myself. I couldn't keep my mind on my job. I was under conviction of my sins so badly I couldn't stand it. I knew from all the witnessing that all I had to do was accept Christ and turn to him. But, I was too proud.
About 11:45AM I went out to an old construction trailer we used to store material and parts in. I was looking for some electrical wire. The conviction was so strong at this point I forgot what I was looking for. As I walked back and forth in that trailer thinking about hell and heaven I fell to my knees and cried out to Jesus to save me.
WOW! The burden that was lifted I will never be able to explain to anyone. I also had never before felt the love that I experienced at that time. For the first time since I could remember I cried and the tears ran down my face. Because of a horrible upbringing I had never really trusted anyone, but that's all in the past now. Not because of me, but because of Christ in me.
As I left that trailer, I noticed it was lunch time. My car was parked a short distance away so I got in and opened my lunch bucket. The first thing I saw was two packs of cigarettes. I bowed my head and asked God to "please take that filthy habit away from me." I then twisted them up and threw them away. I never again had a desire to smoke another cigarette. I had tried before to quit a thousand times with very little success. I had been smoking for twenty years. Suddenly it was as if I had never smoked. Praise be to God!
(I'm now 78 years old and would like to write a book about the rest of the story)