The Beginning of the Story
On the day when my eyes were first opened to the marvelous joy that was Christ’s redeeming work on the cross, I knew very little besides children’s stories from the Bible.
I guess that’s because I was 7 years old.
All I knew was that I deserved something VERY bad. Horribly bad, and one day, maybe even one day soon, I was going to get what I deserved. I probably could not have put into words what it was that I deserved, but I knew there was fear associated with the punishment I had coming to me.
Was I afraid of the punishment that was coming? Of course I was, at least, I was afraid of the parts I understood.
And what I understood was this:
- I had done bad things in my life. These things were called sin.
- I deserved punishment for the bad things I had done.
- Jesus loves me.
- He loves me so much that he received the horrible punishment I deserved so that I wouldn’t have to get it.
Was that enough? Yes, it certainly was for me. I look back on that day and understand that I was born again on that day. I was physically born in 1972 and I was spiritually born in 1979.
After that day, I loved Jesus with all of the innocence and wonder and awe that can only come from a child.
But it didn’t stay that way. As I grew older and life happened, sin began to entice me with new ideas like independence, self-reliance and worldly pleasure. My heart, which had once burned like a white hot flame for my Lord and Savior, was growing colder as I started to explore what the world had to offer.
Soon, Jesus was just a faded memory of my childhood.
I had walked away from Him into a brave new world filled with the carnal delights and perverse pleasures that only Satan and sin can offer.
The End of the Story
Thankfully, God never took his hand off of me and as I look back over my life and reflect on the choices I made, God is still using those experiences to draw me even closer to Himself.
And as painful as those experiences were (and still are), I would not change one moment of them because the Lord used them (and is still using them) to change my heart and conform me into the image of Jesus Christ.
I have a VERY long way to go, but I am assured of getting there because the Lord always keeps His Word.
But I still have to wonder: what’s my responsibility in all of this? Should I be doing something, and if so, what things should I be doing?
The Missing Link
While I received Christ with gladness, I never learned to discipline myself to do the things I should have been doing all along.
I read the Bible the way I read the Hardy Boys mysteries: for enjoyment. It never occurred to me that it could, or even should, change me. I read it so I could be filled with a great knowledge, but sadly, I never applied any of that knowledge into my life.
When I prayed (which wasn’t often), I prayed the way Aladdin conversed with the Genie in the lamp. I had very specific things I wanted God to do for me, and when he didn’t do them, I stopped praying. It never occurred to me that prayer might not be “all about me.”
When I went to church or youth group, I wasn’t interested in worshiping God. I was only there for myself and what I could get out of it. It never occurred to me that there was something I could give to God or to the others in the church.
The bottom line is this: there was once a window of opportunity where I wanted to learn all of these things, but there was no man in my life that was willing to take me on and disciple me. Perhaps because I was a child, but to be honest, it’s been 30 years and I would be as hard-pressed today to find someone to take me under their wing and disciple me as I was 30 years ago.
But this is not about me. The Lord has been good to me by bringing me a Godly wife and good Christian friends for accountability.
This is, perhaps, about you.
My life is more than half over, if I live to the average age of 72, and I want to start giving something back. I want to find several men who want to leave behind the shackles of simple Christianity and begin a journey with me to discover what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ.
I don’t have all the answers, but what I do have is a conviction that there is more to Christianity than 1 hour a week on a Sunday for my Lord and Savior.
The 1st century disciples lived and walked and talked with Jesus Christ and they turned the world upside down.
What if we could turn our world upside down for Jesus Christ?
If you are interested, or just want some more information, leave a comment and I will send you a personal e-mail.