How Joe Sturz Found Peace & Joy
I was born & raised in a strong Christian home in Santee, California near San Diego. My parent's took me to sunday school & church every Sunday. My parent's sacrificed to send me to Christian schools from grades one through eight. I watched my Dad, Paul Sturz, live a strong Christian life winning others to Christ. I seemed to coast on my Dad's faith. I did not have the faith or the joy my Dad had so I eventually chose the world. I dropped out of church & joined a fraternity in college & moved into a worldly crowd of partying & drinking.
As soon as I graduated from San Diego State College in 1962, I entered the Air Force. There I pursued the swinging life of a carefree bachelor. Following Officers Training School, I was assigned to the Air Force Base in Goldsboro, North Carolina. There I took full advantage of a good income, more parties and much travel. After four years I began to wear out on parties and officers’ clubs. I thought to myself more and more: “My life is not happy, I feel empty & restless now." I was then assigned overseas to a remote island near Okinawa for a year. Suddenly life settled into very slow motion. I had time to do a lot of thinking. On that remote island of Kume Jima I realized that I had been running from God for a long time. I was seeking meaning and happiness for my life in all the wrong places. I was lonely and became bored with bachelor life.
When I returned to the Air Force Base in Goldsboro, North Carolina, I began looking around for a girl to marry. Finally it dawned on me that most of the eligible girls were at East Carolina University in nearby Greenville. So I applied to the Air Force to send me back to college to get an MA degree in Psychology. When I moved to Greenville, the first girl I met was Rachel Steinbeck, a college professor at Atlantic Christian College. The search was over! The following year we settled down to married life and starting a family.
When I found myself assigned to be the Air Force Advisor to a Puerto Rican Air National Guard Unit, I thought maybe this coveted tour would overcome the emptiness and lack of meaning in my life. Rachel and I joined a small Wesleyan Methodist mission church. I put on a front of being a dedicated Christian at church and at home but struggled with the guilt from my past. I had sowed a lot of “wild oats” and was still one of the “regular guys” at work, cussing, telling dirty jokes and wasting time and money drinking after hours.
I struggled with my conscience. Also, I was observing the peace and joy in my pastor’s life. Bill Goldsmith had very little in the way of status or material goods but he was one contented man! I thought to myself: “Maybe the peace and joy Dad and my Pastor have is real and I am having only the counterfeit.”
I began to remember the lessons that I had learned in church as a little boy: All men are born sinners and no one can ever make it to Heaven on his own merits (Romans 3:23). I began to remember how God sent Jesus (God the Son) to take our punishment on Himself by dying on the cross (I Corinthians 15:1-4). The words kept coming to me: Jesus did it all. There is nothing else anyone can do except repent of sin, take Jesus into his heart and daily live for Him (Ephesians 2:8-10).
I began remembering my rebellion towards the Lord and my parents when I dropped out of church. I had sought happiness in selfish pleasure-seeking, sex, alcohol, and partying. However, I had always believed in heaven. And if I died I just hoped that my good deeds would out-weigh my bad and heaven is where I would end up!
One night I knelt by my bed and cried out, “Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive me for all my sins when I turned my back on You. I am tired of being a hypocrite and leading a double life. I talk and act one way at church and at home but a different way with the men at work. I place my trust now in Jesus’ death on the cross. Thank you that He paid for all my sins” (I John 1:9). Immediately I felt a great weight of guilt lift off my shoulders. I felt a peace with God. My conscience was now clear—something that I had not experienced in many years. The prodigal son had come home to his Heavenly Father through Jesus His Son. I was on the right path at last!
My life changed after that. I found new purpose and meaning in life as God the Holy Spirit began to work in me. The men at work were surprised to see my selfish attitude change and my profane language disappear. I quit coming to work late and leaving early for a drink. My thought life changed as I lost interest in sexy pictures. Instead of seeking my own pleasures, I began to be concerned for the men around me and their needs instead of just my own.
Every day I experienced the peace and joy that partying had never given me. If I did something wrong, I immediately lost this peace and joy. I would have to pray silently, "Lord please forgive me for …. " and immediately my heart was at rest. The happiness that I had found was too precious to give up for the empty fleeting pleasures of the world.
This happened over fifty years ago. I have had many trials and temptations since then but still have that wonderful peace. I do not miss the old lifestyle. As the years have gone by, I have sinned and made many foolish mistakes; but the Lord has always forgiven me when I repented and asked for forgiveness & changed my ways. As I walk with the Lord He has had to discipline me many times for becoming: resentful, lazy, prideful, stubborn, not listening to my wife Rachel and friends, etc..
When asked by others how I am getting along, I always answer, “I am growing.” My biggest "growth experience" was my wife Rachel passing on to Glory in 2009. I still cry at times in missing her but I have gone on with my life. The Lord knew best. I still have a long way to go to mature in the Lord, but the Lord is patient. He is still working on me as I remain faithful in reading my Bible, going to church & sharing my faith. I have finally retired at age 78 and am now in full time Christian service sending out Bible counseling messges on the internet.
I pray that you, my reader, have found that same peace and joy. If you have not then I pray you will repent of your sin & and find a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, walking with Him every day.
P.S. My Dad's sister and my aunt, Alice Sturz added this to the above account.
Yes, your Dad - God bless him - was instrumental in leading all of our immediate family to Christ. He started by taking us three younger ones to Sunday School.
He used "The Reason Why" booklet (he gave it to mom to read, saying "Please read it now - I will make the gravy and set the table") and she accepted Christ after reading it twice through.
His brother Harry was a harder nut to crack, but Paul promised him he would stop begging him to go to church with him, if he would just read, "The Reason Why". Which he did - and eventually realized the claims of God on his life, and was the first in the family to go to Bible School and devote his entire life for ministry with Christ.
Our Dad (Julius Sturz) was the last one Paul tackled. Dad didn't really feel the need for the Saviour. He was a "good" man and even went occasionally to church, when one of us kids was on the program. We all prayed many years for Dad, before he accepted Christ as his personal Savior.
We are each grateful for Paul's persistence in loving praying for us. Thanks again for sharing your testimony with us! May It also be a blessing to many!
Lovingly, Aunt Alice
My added note: My Dad carried on the Sturz family tailoring business in San Diego and was a lay preacher & an elder in the Presbyterian Church. Paul's brother Harry Sturz became a Greek professor at a Bible College in Los Angeles. His brother Richard Sturz became a Bible Professor at a Baptist Seminary in Sao Paulo, Brazil. His sister Alice Sturz went on to become a missionary nurse to the Ivory Coast, in Africa. His sister Sylvia became a Speech therapist in Long Beach & did a four-year mission in Africa.
A further note: " The Reason Why" by Robert Laidlaw, booklet is available at www.addall.com Dad was a member of the Christian Businessmen's Committee www.cbmc.com at the time & got the booklet through them.
Joe “saved & growing” Sturz December 10, 2018