Someone questioned me one day and asked why saying yes to Jesus was a life changer. The answer is pretty easy - before Jesus, I had a life defined by emotions and positions that eventually will end. After Jesus, I have a life with purpose that stretches into eternity.
Growing up, we went to church. My Mom and my Paternal Grandmother made sure of that; however, my view of God was of someone who looked down on me, who was distant and way too important to approach by myself. I was taught that I had to be very careful because God could get angry with me very easily for anything I did that was not good. Honestly, as a kid I was scared to death of him. But, I also wanted to serve Him and please Him.
As a young adult, I decided to just not acknowledge that He was there. I stopped going to church, I read the Bible through so I could argue with the Bible thumpers in my life, and I looked around to find something else to help explain the "whys" of life. I thought I had God figured out pretty good, and intellectually could define who he was and wasn't. I was miserable.
In 1984 while I was in college, my Mom and Dad split up. Honestly, I was surprised their marriage had lasted as long as it did. My Dad was not a very nice man. He was an alcoholic who was not faithful and was a very mean and angry man. My Mom went her way and Dad followed me home. Several months after living with me, he got a job, moved out, and got his own place. He also found a girlfriend I thought was a religious fanatic.
In 1985 I met and fell in love with Doug. We met in September and were married three months later. Two babies showed up within two years. I was truly happy, but still had this heart in me that was searching for something more... a something I knew had to be out there.
In November of 1988, five months after our daughter was born, my Dad showed up to hang out at our house for the weekend. The first thing I noticed was that he wasn't smoking (he was a two packer a day before). The second thing was that he seemed to be at peace with himself...he was different. One night as I was getting ready to go to bed, he asked if I would stay up and talk a little while. As he talked, he spoke about the change in him...about Who had made a difference in his life. He opened his Bible, we read some passages together that for the first time I could understand, and He told me about Jesus - that Jesus loved me and how He had come to earth as a baby, grew up and lived a perfect life before God, and then was crucified and died so that I did not have to be separated from God because of my sin. I realized at that moment all the things that I had done wrong, asked Jesus for forgiveness, and prayed a simple prayer that went something like this;
Jesus, I know I am a sinner and am so sorry. I believe that you came to earth and that you died for me. I believe that you did not stay dead and that you will come again. Please be the Lord of my life, be the ruler of my heart and all that is within me. AmenThat prayer started an adventure of a lifetime. The something more that was missing had been found.
Everything in my life is not perfect, I am still a sinner who has to minute by minute choose to do what I know is right. Daily I acknowledge how much I need Jesus to direct my steps and to give me strength for the day, to give me wisdom as I am faced with decisions.
Choosing Jesus is not a difficult thing - it's as easy as ABC:
- Acknowledge that you are a sinner, that you make wrong choices that hurt you and others. Sin defined is simply missing the mark - just not doing the right thing either by what we do or what we don't do. There are no big sins or little sins. It all is just sin.
- Believe that Jesus was born, that he was crucified on a cross, and that on the third day he rose again and that he is still alive. He died and took our punishment for our sins. Without that one selfless act, we would not have access to God. Without him, when we face death, it is a permanent separation from God that leads to an eternity of torment. With him, we walk into eternity with Joy.
- Confess Him as Lord of your life. People know about Jesus and have heard the Christmas story of the baby Jesus who was born in a manager. They know the story about His crucifixion and death and how three days later the tomb he was buried in was empty. To know those things is not enough. You must bow your head and call him "Lord".