I used to be envious of others in church.
As I listened to them tell their story of their own salvation, the exact time, date, how old they were, how from that point on they never looked back, they were changed forever, I sat there envious.
I was envious because I had not had that kind of moment with Christ and I wondered with fear and trembling, had I ever really been saved?
Sure there were those nights when I would lay next to my father in the dark, a child believing whatever Daddy told me, because he was my hero, and he wouldn’t lie, and he said Jesus loved me, he said Jesus died so I could be saved, so we all could…and I believed him and he would pray, and we would sing Jesus Loves Me.
We would go to church on Sunday, me with my shiny shoes, and I would sing “This Little Light of Mine” in Sunday school, I would drink the grape juice the preacher said was like Jesus’ blood, I would take the cracker and examine it while heads were bowed in prayer, wondering why I needed to eat and drink Jesus. I asked many times for Jesus to come into my heart because at the end of every sermon the preacher said we should if we weren’t sure and as a little girl I wanted to be sure, even though I didn’t quite understand how someone could live right inside my heart.
I never doubted that it was true.
And as I grew older, my parents divorced and church became less, but I still prayed most nights. I turned twelve and got a brand new Bible for Christmas with my name etched right there in the bottom corner and I stayed up late reading those red-lettered words like I never had before, but I didn’t understand them all and it discouraged me because I couldn’t, so I set it aside and it was two years before I picked it back up.
But I never doubted any of it was true.
And there has been a whole lot of stuff in this girl’s life since that night when I was twelve.
The twenty-two years since then have been filled with a whole lot of picking the Word up and setting it aside.
A whole lot of knowing Jesus with my mind, but not with my heart. A whole lot of loving Jesus with my mind, but not with my heart.
As an adult, I would raise my hands in worship and sing out to Him with tears streaming and feel so full of the Spirit I thought I would burst, I would watch the Passion of Christ and weep and sob at the depiction of what He went through for us, I would walk to the altar with “Just As I Am” being sung by the choir and kneel down and lose myself. I would drink from the cup and eat of the bread because I knew this was done in remembrance.. And then after all the emotional music, the emotional movies, and the emotional testimonies would stop and the doors would swing open for us all to spill out into the bright world, to go home and get our bellies full after getting our spirits full…
I would set.Him.aside.
You see, I have never doubted the existence of God. I have never doubted that Jesus is the Son of God. I have never doubted that He died on a cross to save me and you from an eternity in hell. I have never doubted that the Word of God was written by men but breathed into life by the Holy Spirit, I have never doubted the infallible truth of His Word. Never.
But can I tell you what His Word says?
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder. James 2:19
So yes, there have been times in my life, when hearing other’s story of becoming new in Jesus, that I’ve wondered…did I miss something??
Why haven’t I had this radical change? I knew Jesus, right?
Isn’t that enough? And He is enough. His grace is always enough, but it’s one thing to know Him, even the demons do. It’s another thing to surrender your life to Him, and this is where I always failed.
I could sing “I Surrender All” with my mouth, but never did completely with my heart.
I was given the gift of Grace, just like you, a gift that was wrapped in His shed blood, sweat, and tears. I accepted that gift long ago, but instead of fully unwrapping it, I only tore holes in the side so I could peak in every now and then. I would tear back the wrapping and peak in when something was going wrong , I would even look in when everything was going right. But the problem was, I only looked for a bit, and then I set it aside.
And what good is a gift if you don’t unwrap it to see ALL of it? What good is grace if you only unwrap parts of it and not the whole?And it’s one thing to know the gift is there, it’s another thing to unwrap it and behold it!
And these powerful words were written:
Belief is not merely an agreement with facts in the head, it is also an appetite for God in the heart, which fastens on Jesus for satisfaction. …
Therefore eternal life is not given to people who merely think that Jesus is the Son of God.
It is given to people who drink from Jesus as the Son of God… The point of these images of drinking and eating is to make clear the essence of faith. It is more than believing that there is such a thing as water and food.
Faith is coming to Jesus and drinking the water and eating the food so that we find our hearts satisfied in Him.– John Piper
When you’re in the desert, it does you no good to know the well of water is before you, if you aren’t willing to drink the water found in it.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35
So I have wrestled at times on whether I have actually been saved when I thought I was, I have wrestled with the questions: Do I believe in Jesus, the Bible, God, the Trinity, simply because I was taught that all my life? Or do I believe because I know within my spirit that this is truth?
And I can tell you it’s the latter. I believe in my heart it is truth. I believe, but that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with flesh. I never had one of those moments that I have heard people talk about, when I could say I was saved on this date…., but I have had many moments and many blessings where I know Jesus Christ has been changing me. And I know I desire to know Him in a deeply spiritual way, and I know if I didn’t have the Holy Spirit that desire would not be there. I know the times when I have set Him aside in my life were when I decided to love myself, more than I loved Him.
And the change comes when you surrender all.The change comes when you sip from His cup and eat of His bread daily. The change comes when you fully unwrap the gift of Grace and behold it in all it’s Glory.
When you finally stop putting Him back in the box and setting Him on the shelf…that’s when the change you’re looking for will come…