I OFFICIALLY BECAME A Christian at about ten years old. At the time, the only words I heard were about fire and brimstone after my death if I didn’t make a profession of faith. I remember considering my choice between heaven and hell and since the ticket to heaven was free, I figured it was cheap fire insurance.
With my eternal destiny squared away, I then focused my life on more important matters here; like surviving the dragons and giants I faced on my road to self-reliance, self-sufficiency, and self-importance. Where I was certain that I could find rest and be truly happy.
Being a Type A personality and a control freak, I lived in fear, the antithesis of a soul grounded in a faith in God. But there was no question in my mind that I was a Christian, probably because it was acceptable to be a Christian in the 1960s and 1970s. It was a comfortable label.
Christianity was the religion claimed by most Americans back then. If one was born in America and was not Jewish, then he or she was probably a Baptist, Catholic, or some other Christian denomination. In my corner of the world, first in the cotton fields on a farm, and then a large city, both in the south, one might as well be a communist without a faith in Jesus.
Being a Christian, to me, was synonymous to being American and I was a proud American. As an adult, I went to church every Sunday morning. For a solid hour.
I sang the old hymns and listened dutifully to this or that preacher tell the same stories about a loving God who gave his only Son up to die so that I could have eternal life. And then, like always, I went back to fighting the real problems in my life.
And secretly doubted that a loving God was really in control of the universe.
I was grateful to live in a country where I didn’t have to suffer for my faith and grateful to live in the land of freedom and abundance. I was grateful that a girl off a farm with no more than a few hours of college could become a self sufficient and thriving businesswoman. I was grateful that it cost me nothing to believe in Jesus and that I lived in the century I did. I was also grateful I was living at a time when it could work in my advantage that people around me knew I went to church and could therefore be considered a good and undoubtedly honest person.
At best, I was clearly a fair-weather Christian. That’s a nicer label than hypocrite. Or fraud.
What I did not realize is that claiming to be Christian nor going to church made me a Christian any more than standing in my garage made me a car. However, one cannot know what one does not know, especially when one does not know that he or she does not know what he or she does not know. Did you catch that? I did not know that I did not know what being Christian really meant. I thought I did know I was a Christian.
And until I had my own Damascus road experience, I truly believed I was Christian. After all, I prayed the sinner’s prayer and believed that was the only cost of my freedom from an eternity burning in hell.
Meeting Jesus was the greatest defining moment in my life. I cannot recall what happened most of the day, but I shall never forget what happened around seven o’clock that Monday evening in November 1990 as I sat on one of two pink sofas in my living room. It was the day I awoke to something I had never experienced before, and I was changed from what was to what is.
My transformation began when I heard the first word Jesus spoke to me which was my name.
From that day forward I have been fascinated with the subject of life and death, for it was on that day, at thirty-two years old, that I was called out of the shadow of Death and Fear and into the presence of Life and Love.
It was on that day I had a paradigm shift, and my heart, the only thing that seemed to matter to Jesus, was awakened by his words to me.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.—John 15:16a
And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”—John 6:65
As always, it is my intent and hope that my words may encourage you wherever you are in your journey.
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If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.–Jesus (Mark 4:23)