"Scott, You’re Going
Straight to Hell!"
by Scott Paige
I grew up in a family that thought the only way to get to heaven was to be good; if you were bad you went straight to hell. I was a very rebellious child and teenager and so religion was used to try to keep me in line. When I did something wrong I would hear, "Scott, you’re going straight to hell!" The funny thing is, rather than scaring me into submission by threatening me with hell, that only made me rebel more.
At the age of twenty, I was pursuing a career as a professional bull rider. I competed like I lived—on the edge, with no regard for life or death. The last thing on my mind was my eternal destiny.
I was introduced to a fellow bull rider, who, little did I know at the time, would have one of the greatest impacts on my life. Tim was awesome. He could ride just about anything that had hair on it, but still maintained a humble attitude. He had something in his life that I wanted. I just did not know what.
Tim put on a riding clinic one afternoon and talked me into attending. I was seated on a bale of hay while he instructed us on riding techniques, motivation, and our attitudes. When he finished he asked a question that I will never forget: "How would you like to know for sure that if you died today while competing you would go to heaven?" Since I grew up with the attitude I was going to hell for being rough around the edges, this question had my full attention.
Tim went on to explain that none of us knows when it is our time to die, and riding two thousand pounds of bucking meat only increases the chance. Riding a dangerous and angry bull takes all of our physical and mental abilities. The possibility of getting stepped on or horned is not a matter of if, but when. He went on to explain that every one of us, whether we want to admit it or not, thinks about the possibility of death every time we climb on a bull. He asked how would we like to compete to our fullest potential and not have to worry about death.
He told us how Jesus, God’s Son, had died for every bad thing we had ever done or ever would do. He explained how God wants us to have a personal relationship with Him, but sin separates us from having this relationship. Therefore, He provided a way to break the sin barrier and restore our relationship with Himself. This was done through believing in His Son, and if we believed in Jesus we would not have to fear death because we would have eternal life.
Tim said eternal life has nothing to do with being good or being bad, but everything to do with faith. He quoted John 3:16-18 and told us how much God loved us, that He gave us His Son. Then using Ephesians 2:8-9, he explained how eternal life was a free gift and that it could not be earned but had to be received through faith. Tim said if you believe this you no longer have to worry about death when you are preparing to ride, because you have and always will have eternal life.
I was blown away. My stomach felt like someone had put flaming barbecue briquettes in it, then turned it upside down. I always thought the name Jesus Christ was used between two cuss words. I always thought I was going to hell and I tried to live like it. No one ever told me what Jesus did for me. I was struck with a type of fear and joy at the same time. I felt like I was going to be sick.
For the first time in my life I thought about my eternal destiny and about what I was taught as a boy growing up. Everything Tim said made perfect sense. I never thought of God as a loving Father who wanted to have a relationship with me, and I never knew what Jesus endured on the cross for me. I was trying with all my might to keep the tears that were welling up in my eyes from rolling out from under my sunglasses.
I believed what Tim told me. I no longer was going to hell because of how I lived, but I was going to heaven, because Jesus guarantees eternal life to all who believe in Him for it.. Now that included me, because I simply believed in Him.
Later that evening, as we ran the bulls down into the bucking chutes and prepared to ride, I felt a peace that I had never felt before. My thoughts were not on getting hurt or dying. They were on Jesus and what He had given me—eternal life.