Daily Devotional for Wednesday August 20, 2003

Running from God

(Jonah 2:1,2)

Running from God. Just 13 years ago today, I found myself in the belly of the fish. It was August 20th of the year 1990. I had been in Federal custody at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago for 8 months, awaiting trial on insider trading charges. It was on that night, that I finally stopped running from God.

Saved at 12, I knew almost immediately God had called me into the ministry. Growing up during my teen years, there was never any doubt what I was supposed to do with my life. After my junior year at Ohio State, I ran out of money and had to take a year off to work full time so that I could finish college and have enough to start seminary. I started working as a rep for a mail order company selling computers, and started to make so much money that going back to college, going into the ministry were not in the plans any longer. I decided I wanted to build my kingdom, not God's.

For the next 10 years I ran from God. I made millions of dollars operating a network of marketing companies selling computers, office equipment, office supplies, and about anything else that could be sold on the phone. I cashed out of that business and rolled all of my money into the stock market, day trading options, commodities, and futures before there was such a name for it. Life on the surface was good, I had everything you could want in life, but deep inside I knew that I was running from God.

The amazing thing was, I never got too far away from God during those years. EVERY Sunday during this 10 year period, I was in church. It was not out of my commitment to Christ, and probably more out of habit than anything else, but deep down, I knew what God wanted me to do with my life. He spoke to me numerous times over the years to make sure I knew what He wanted, but like the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:22, I always "went away sorrowful." I wasn't willing to give God what He wanted, my life, unconditionally surrendered to Him.

So, God sent a big fish after Bill Keller. That fish was called the United States Government! Over several months in 1988, I got involved in trading stocks in several companies based on inside information. I knew that it was illegal, but when you are running from God, you do things that you normally never would. When you are running from God, you are not reading your Bible, you are not praying. When you are running from God, you become an easy target for the enemy that is out to "steal, kill, and destroy."

The Securities and Exchange Commission brought a civil action against me that was then referred to the US Attorney's Office for criminal prosecution. I was denied bond because they were afraid I would leave the country, and was taken into custody on December 18, 1989. It would take 8 months in Federal custody as I was waiting to go to trial before I would finally stop running from God.

I don't know how long Jonah was in the belly of the fish before he finally cried out to God, but Bill Keller was there for 8 months. On that August night, after the lights went out, I was lying in my bed. As I lied there, I began to think about my wife. We had been married for 7 years, and I had put here through so much the last several years. I was potentially facing a significant amount of time in Federal Prison. NOBODY, least of all myself, would have blamed her for leaving. But she had told me that afternoon when she came to visit, that no matter what the outcome was, she would stand by me.

As I lied in my bed that night, I was thinking of my wife. I was thinking of how a person of flesh and blood could love someone so unconditionally. All of a sudden, God began to speak to me. God said that if a person of flesh and blood could love me so unconditionally, how much more must He love me. It was at that moment, I finally broke. I spent the night on my knees, asking God to forgive me, confessing my sins, and finally giving God the one and only thing He had ever wanted from me..my life unconditionally surrendered to Him! I finally stopped running!

I love you and care about you so much. Many of you are running from God today. It is NO ACCIDENT that you are reading this message. God is speaking to you as loud and clear as if He was standing next to you and shouting in your ear. Like Jonah, like Bill Keller, you can keep running and pay the price, or, you can stop running and surrender your life to the Lord. By the way, when you accepted Christ as your Savior, the Bible states that it is no longer your life, that it now belongs to Him. That is something many people forget.

I am praying for you today. God has done more incredible things in my life since that night 13 years ago than I could have ever dreamed of. If someone had told me 13 years ago what I would be doing today, I would have told them they were crazy. But you see, when God is in control, He can do "exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think." God is no respecter of person. What God did in the life of Jonah when he finally surrendered to Him, what God has done in my life once I finally surrendered to Him, God can and will do in your life when you finally surrender to Him. God is calling you today, it is time to stop running from Him and answer.

In his love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller