Originally published Friday, 03 April 2015.
I grew up in a Christian home. My parents were faithful to take me to church every Sunday and raise me in the Christian faith. So faithful that we were there every time the church doors were open. I grew up knowing the stories of Jesus. I never missed a day of Sunday school. I had been confirmed in the faith classes, memorized a lot of prayers and petitions. So I naturally assumed the faith of my parents. I didn't have to question what I believed because it was what I always knew.
As a young mom, it was important to me to raise my little ones on a firm and right foundation. I was doing all the right things and repeating prayers like I was taught. I was taking my kids to church & Sunday School every Sunday. It looked like I had it all together and knew all the right answers, but in reality, I didn't have a personal relationship with Christ. I only knew of Him. And honestly, what I knew I of Jesus, I couldn't relate to. He was just a holy image that I couldn't get close to.
I had studied Him and acknowledged His existence, but there was something missing, a gap between my head's understanding of who He was and my heart's acceptance of His kind of love for me. I was a good person, thought I was going to heaven, because I wasn't horrible after all. I was kind, giving and tried to love people. Like everyone else around me though, I had fallen into some bad habits and behaviors. Just like any other young married mother with a couple of kids, I was trying to make the best of my life and keep my head above the stresses of every day. Little did I know, I was really running in the opposite direction...away from God.
I was going my own direction until I met Jesus. The very place I lost my understanding of him became the very place I found new life in Jesus.
In a Good Friday service, the Holy Spirit had the details all arranged for our special meeting. It started with a stripping away of things placed in the sanctuary. The church committee started removing items one by one in silence. The lights were dimmed in quiet solitude. One by one the candles were extinguished and the flowers disappeared. The room was practically empty except the few people who sang to themselves, softly in the pews. A simple wooden cross hung over the center of the bare stone altar. I watched as the room was emptied of the familiar, leaving it practically void. My heart as tearing from an long, deep ache full of an emptiness I can't describe. I sat alone in the cold, dark reality of my life.
I was a total mess, alone. It was if a spotlight from heaven beamed down on my head.
In that quiet and holy moment, God bent down and touched my soul and spirit in ways that I could feel. In those moments my confession of all life's denials came to mind. Heaven opened up and grace came down. Suddenly , I felt the Spirit chip away at that hardened surface as it if were a block of ice readied for a masterpiece.
Whispers to my heart..."I sent my Son just for you, yes, He died for you. That's how much I love you. And yes, even if you were the only one on this entire planet. I did that ....just for you." There were no trumpets blaring, no special lyrics, no confetti, party horns, no balloons, no compelling preacher, just Jesus bending down.
My eyes were opened as they brimmed with tears. I received the love of my life that day 27 years ago. My soul immediately spilled with His love and forgiveness. I am a life that has been changed by the power of the Gospel. Jesus is my Savior, always and forever. And forever will I live with Heaven stamped on my heart. I remember it like it was yesterday.
Ephesians 2:8 - 9 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God;not by works, so that no one can boast."
God's grace and forgiveness is a gift. You can't earn it nor can you get it by osmosis from good people around you or raising you. Even if you have been in church all your life. Even if you think you are a good person. You have to choose to accept Christ's death on the cross as payment for your sins. Jesus is the only connection that bridges the gap of your sin to God's purity.
The best news is that your guilt and shame has been taken care of, no sin is too big that Jesus hasn't died for.
The Gospel changes lives. It's grace, it's love, it's forgiveness, and this Jesus changes...lives. Jesus bridges the gaps between heads and hearts, sins and righteousness, life and death. I can't live life without Jesus, I tried that way for a while and I wasn't headed in a good direction. Certain death and destruction was imminent for me and my family. Jesus offers life, love and hope.
That's the reason I follow Jesus. He's got the best answer, best ideas, and best plan for me than I could ever imagine. Best decision I will ever make that settled my today and my forever home secure.
Jesus is my Way, my Truth, and my Life. Will you let Jesus be yours too?