I can still picture that day like it was yesterday…I was 14 years old, a freshman in highschool, and was about to make a decision that would (and has) change my life forever. Picture an old camping lodge…funky couches, that distinct musty smell, round tables surrounded by cracked plastic chairs, timber beams lining the ceiling, and the great outdoors just outside. It was late…The flag had been captured, the brownie sundaes devoured, and many a round of spoons played (and probably that annoying cup game too.) We gathered round for our evening message and my life has never been the same.
An older student shared that night. He had just accepted Christ the previous summer and I remember being envious of his passion….It was so clear that his flame had not yet burnt out..For many like me, who were raised in the church and who never had to take that big step away from an old life, it was hard to find that spark…I had been surrounded by the Word and had been told about the love of Jesus from such an early age that the words didn’t hold the same meaning for me that it did for others. I was living someone else’s faith….going through the motions….playing the part.
I wonder now how many others out there are feeling the way I was that night. I wonder about those who perhaps simply see God as the first mover, the clock-maker, or as an unreachable entity in the sky. I wonder how many have never found that spark….never made a decision to truly live out the faith of their childhood, or perhaps of any faith at all. I had been doing all the right things…but was missing a critical piece of the puzzle…interaction. God is not an impersonal being…Jesus is more than a child in a manger, a letter on a bracelet, or a figure on a cross.God designed humans with a need to connect. We are hard-wired for interaction…with Him.What I realized that night was that my faith…my LIFE..needed to center around that relationship…the only relationship that matters.
In that old lodge that night, surrounded by others, I re-dedicated my heart and my life to the Lord. I didn’t want to live out my parent’s faith…I wanted that faith to be mine…to be THE central factor in my life. It wasn’t enough to play the part…I had to get to KNOW God in a real way. I pledged that day to make prayer a focus in my life…not just treating God like Santa Claus, listing off a slew of personal requests, and not merely resorting to prayer in times of desperation. I wanted to talk with God,and listen to where He was leading me. I also vowed that night to read my Bible every day, and to read through the Bible once every year. 15 times through and my life is changed every year…every day…God STILL speaks…and wants to connect with YOU.
I was struck that night by a song that was played for us. The song is “Two Sets of Jones” by Big Tent Revival. In the song, there are two families. One family has built their life around money…work…basically the “stuff” of this life. The other couple has centered their life around Jesus. In the song the lyric goes, “And the rains came down, and it blew the four walls down. The clouds they rolled away, and one set of Jones was standing that day. So what is the point of this story? What am I trying to say? Is your life built on the rock of Christ Jesus or the sandy foundation you’ve managed to lay?” When life gets tough…I know there is no way I could make it without God. We’ve been through so much, and I honestly don’t know how people go through some of life’s storms without the Lord. If you’ve fallen away…If you were raised going to Sunday school and have just let “life” get in the way….If you’ve never explored faith…If you’re like me, and are just going through the motions…my heart and prayer for you is to find your spark. I don’t know the day when I asked Jesus into my heart. I know I was four, and I remember that day…but I celebrate this day each year…the day I decided to start living a life that mattered…a life for Christ….a life centered around Him. Do I mess up? All the time. Do I always turn to Him like I should? No. Am I more than a little bit grateful for His overwhelming sense of mercy and forgiveness? You bet.
I want to leave you with the song that touched my heart that night, and an open invitation to talk with me if you have questions. I know there are probably many of you who have been hurt by the church, or someone in the church. For their behavior, I’m sorry. Christians don’t always get portrayed in the best light, and some of our “spokespeople” do not speak for all of us. Just know that I’m here…and so is He.