I have never envied them.
Everyone loves a good drama. Child from hardship comes through mistakes, drug addition, and an abusive parent relationship. They step out of that deep darkness into the light, for all of us to see their crucible-refined character. They tell us how they had been bathed in curses thick and black. How the power of God and the light of Jesus broke through their circumstances and showed that divine hands were authoring their story. It is scrawled across parchment with enthusiasm and love; their story though dark had the brightest coals. Their praise seems that much sweeter. How I have envied them.
I have never envied them for their past because who would want to have to pass through a landscape so desolate and hopeless. I have envied their testimony. There obvious evidence that God’s hand is indeed on them. The landmark for their salvation is so high and bright that a simple glance over the shoulder reveals the cross. What if your life is “good?” What if your world has been stable and kind, full of the cooing of a loving mother and the warmth of a father who is a pillar of character and kind, gentle strength. I can tell you.
My upbringing was stable and nurturing.
My upbringing was stable and nurturing. I had plenty of food and toys. My parents are God-fearing Christians who love the Father and me. I accepted Christ at nine years old. My salvation experience was my own and unique at a small Baptist Church during the alter call. I tried for three weeks to sneak away from my Dad’s side and go down to the front to get saved. For three weeks he had no idea what I was doing and stopped me. I don’t know why I did not tell him but that fourth week I bolted from his side and ran down to the front and received Jesus as my savior.
It might be a stretch to say that I understood everything about my new found savior or the decision I had made. However, that is where my experience with God has been unimaginably bright. Sanctification is the process that God in your relationship with him works out Holiness, Godliness, the character and spiritual qualities he intended you to have before your sin wrecked everything. This has been very pronounced in my own life. The trek through prepubescents to adolescence and then on into adulthood is marked by moments of clarity in which I find I do believe what I confessed at nine and then a deeper commitment is established.
It seems paltry and condescending to say that I believe. God exists and operates well outside of my will. I could no more say he did not exist, and Jesus was not his son, and that statement be the truth than I can snuff out the sun with words. The ineffable quality of this existence militates that there is something beyond our perception, something that no amount of math or science will illuminate yet it (God) illuminates himself in his heavenly condescension to man. This is the demand I chose not to ignore but in turn have pursued and consistently encountered God.
This is the cornerstone of my testimony
I once heard the phrase in a song “A bastard is robed in curses” this is true but what this phrase misses is that the good man loved and cared for is robed in the same damning sin as the bastard it’s just that he does not know it. I think of what my own struggles with sin have been, not ones of blatant misconduct but insidious subtle slow deaths. Like slowly being poisoned with opiates. So much so that as it slowly fills your veins you suffocate with a smile and a whimper for more. What does that death look like? Well, the metaphor has a finality to it the reality is far worse. It looks like moving through a comfortable life with your few tiny pet sins till you are old and only catch a glimpse of the small insignificant impact you left in your wake and groggily rub your eyes in the light of God. There in that moment I am sure you find your ultimate indecision was indeed a decision in and of itself.
This is the cornerstone of my testimony a slow burn of sanctification. At the time of writing, I have walked with the Savior Jesus Christ for 23 years. I have sinned right along with the best of them just not as openly as most. I have had my triumphs and disciplines by the hand of the father. I have learned that no matter how many times I fall I must always get back up.
But what could have been so terrible in me that my upbringing could not have resolved or prevented? A wasted life? Who am I to look at this beautiful gift of life I have been given and entertain myself right to the grave. Who am I to think that my good enough job is worth not stretching myself. Who am I to eat and eat and eat until my heart suffocates from clogged veins and entropy. A mediocre life? I had every potential and opportunity to simply, be. I might have been able to coast an entire life from comfort to comfort, never rich or poor. God saved me from that! Jesus’ presence in my life and body have added an ineffable quality to my life. He has placed before me vision, hope, and love. Faith in him comes with a struggle then a rush of power and purpose. My life is first unto him then unto those around me. Jesus took the law and the prophets and summed their entire writings and teachings into two commands.
The first is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind soul, body, and strength. The second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.
Just as there is nothing good in me apart from Christ, there is nothing good in you. While you were still a sinner, Christ died for sins that separated you from Him. Even now his grace (unmerited favor) abounds to you in your every breath. You are loved and valued by him and consequently you are loved and valued by me. Maybe your story is dramatic and full of contrast, or maybe it is more like mine an ever increasing brightness or darkness. One that is subtle and you can never tell till you stop and consider it. Jesus Christ can save you from your sins. He can give you a hope and a purpose. He can make you holy and give your humdrum mediocre shuffle to the grave meaning. He is God and you are his creation. You were made for His Glory, and he has decided that you can have your purpose you need only accept Jesus Christ the Son of God as your Lord and savior ask him to forgive you of your sins. Believe that he died on the cross for those sins and rose again on the third day. Ask him today to come into your life.
Say this to God, who is ever-present. “Lord I am a sinner and am in need of a savior. I believe that Jesus Christ is your son, that he died on a cross for my sins, and rose again on the third day that I might have eternal life. I need your forgiveness. Please, Jesus, forgive me of my sins and come into my heart and life to be my Lord and Savior.”