I was challenged this week to write the story of when I became a Christian. The story of when the Lord reached out and asked me to be His and I said “yes”.
When I was little, I was raised in a Christian home. Both of my parents were Christians and we went to church every single Sunday, twice. I can only remember ONE Sunday my entire childhood that my dad missed church because he had to work…it was SO weird! He was a trustee on the board and my mom was the Sunday school president. We were at church ALL the time. I believed in Jesus. I believed that He was God’s Son and was born and He died on the cross and rose again the third day. I knew that the cup represented His blood and the bread His body. I believed in heaven and that I was going to go there when I die. My parents were Christians, so I thought I was a Christian too.
I was always the good girl. The one who followed the rules. I didn’t jump on the bed because my Dad told me not to. I didn’t talk back to my parents because if I did I would certainly be punished. Everything was black and white. When I failed and did something wrong and my parents found out, it was torture to my tender little heart to let them down. If I did something wrong and they didn’t know about it, it made breaking the rules a lot easier to deal with. My parents were my authority.
I went to summer camp with some of the girls from our church when I was 7 years old. I was the youngest person there. The first night we had a speaker in chapel. She told us that one day there was going to be a party in heaven and everyone in that room could come, if they knew Jesus. I thought “I know Jesus…I’ll be there.” But when she started explaining how I needed to know Jesus personally and ask Him to forgive me for my sins I realized I wouldn’t be at the party in heaven someday and I was sad. She drew a picture of two cliffs and deep ravine between the two. She drew a person on one side and God on the other. Then she drew a cross as a bridge between the two cliffs. The only way to get across that ravine was to believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose again for my sins and accept Him as my Savior. For all of those times I let my parents down…that they knew about or not…I knew I needed a Savior because really I had let Jesus down. Jesus knocked on the door of my heart and immediately I felt the weight and shame of all the things I had done wrong in my life. I tearfully asked Him to forgive me and to come into my life so that I could live with Him forever in eternity. At 7 years old I instantly felt an incredible peace…that weight lifted…and I felt different. At the time I couldn’t quite explain it, but now I know it was the Holy Spirit coming in to my life and changing my perspective of being a good girl.
I still of course do things that are wrong because I am human. I will never be good enough…even for a good girl…to make it into heaven on my own. I need Jesus. I need to not just believe in Him and what He did, but understand that He did it for me and the only way I can thank Him is by giving Him my life and not just believing in Him but intentionally following Him.
Since then the Lord has brought many challenges and struggles into my life. At first I thought I deserved them for all of the times I broke the rules and did things my own way. But now I believe they weren’t to punish me for not being good enough, but they were to bring me closer to Jesus…to understand that I can’t do anything by myself or I will crumble because I need His strength to get through each day. I have a chronic illness that forces me to choose minute-by-minute to try to cope all by myself, or lean upon the Lord. It’s a constant battle. Just because I always followed the rules doesn’t mean I’m not an independent, strong-willed redhead. The problem with strictly following the rules is that I can ever keep them all. That’s where God’s amazing grace comes in. I can’t earn it, He freely gives it.