Picking up this post about our stories, I wanted to state that there are those who share their stories with me and are embarrassed about all the wrong that they have done in their lives, apart from God. My answer to them--that God changes the hearts of men; that they have turned from their sin and are forgiven; that heaven rejoices over repentant hearts. And, at times, there are people who share their stories of salvation with me in an almost apologetic manner. You see, some of them have been Christians their whole lives and feel that they have nothing exciting to talk about. No scandalous sin to divulge. I find myself in the same boat. Sort of.
Here’s my story.
I was introduced to Jesus Christ when a Church of the Nazarene bus drove down my street on a Sunday morning, picking up children for church. Imagine that -- my parents allowed their very young girls to get onto a bus with strangers and drive away. It’s just what you did back in the day. Not something I would do as a parent, but I digress. It was not until I was five that I would begin attending the First United Pentecostal Church of Elgin and really learn the stories of the Bible. I was twelve years old when, one cold winter night after Wednesday Bible study, I asked my then-pastor to baptize me. I had an overwhelming need to be baptized that very night. No pomp. No circumstance. I had asked Jesus Christ to forgive me of my sins, and I just KNEW I needed to be immediately baptized for the remission of said sins. A couple of years later I was filled with God’s spirit, along with a group of about five other kids.
I sang in church, played instruments in church, walked the walk, and talked the talk. In church. I was a good girl. In church. When I was 17, I stopped attending church altogether. I chose life on my terms. Not God’s. No, I didn’t get into drugs or alcohol. I was a pretty good girl, still. I was, after all, my mother’s daughter, and when a parent raises up a child in the way that she should go, she will not depart from it. She may THINK she’s departing from it, but she’s really not.
It was not until I was 21 that I truly sought God’s face. I devoured His word. I listened to men of God preach on Moody Bible Institute radio. I grew closer to God. But not at all consistently. At 24, I married outside of God’s will. But though I did not attend church, I raised my children to know Jesus Christ. After 17 years of marriage, I divorced. Which, of course, ushered in its own set of life happenings.
Throughout the years, I attended a variety of churches. But that didn’t matter to me then. What mattered was that I was Jesus Christ’s daughter, not whether I attended church. Jesus Christ was always with me. Even when I wasn’t with Him during certain periods of my life. He never left me, nor did He forsake me. Never. God has always been so good to me. He has always blessed me. Things have always worked out. That’s what the Bible says, and it is true of my life.
Am I sinless? Emphatically no. Do I perhaps sin less? Maybe. Do I have my own set of hang-ups (otherwise known as propensities to sin)? Absolutely. Do I want to NOT do those hang-ups? Of course.
In the end, and for me, it all comes down to this: Jesus Christ died on the cross willingly for MY sins. My Savior was a Jew and was sent by His Father, my God, to be the final sacrifice that Israel (and indeed the entire world) would need to make for propitiation for sin. I have hope in Jesus Christ’s resurrection. I have hope that Jesus Christ has gone ahead to prepare a place for me in heaven.
Because God loves me and sent His Son to save me, I want to do His will. I wish to serve Him. Not because serving Him pays for my salvation. No way. Jesus Christ died once, and that one act of grace did what it was supposed to do: save me from my deserved eternal habitation, hell. And worse, separation from God. I wish to promote Jesus Christ. Not because He needs me to promote Him. Oh, no. He does not need me. I work to promote Jesus Christ because I need to, emphasis on the I.
The Bible says that faith without works is dead, and I want my faith to be alive and well, evidenced by the fruits of the spirit and good works. The Bible also says that people will know me by my love. That people will know Christians by their love. I want to love. And I do. But it’s actually not me who loves even my enemies. Oh, heavens, no. I would never be able to do THAT. It’s the Holy Spirit living in me that loves others. And helps me to love others.
It is my desire that people around me and within my sphere of influence would know Jesus Christ in a personal and real way. That they would surrender their lives to Him. Because life without Jesus Christ is no life. There is no freedom without Him. There is no peace without Him. There is no eternal life, singing, praising, rejoicing, or shouting in heaven without Him. There is absolutely a need for salvation. And our choice, to affirm Jesus Christ or to deny Him, is up to us.
July 25, 2016