I don’t remember the exact day or time I accepted Jesus as my Lord and savior. But there is a day that had a significant impact on my spiritual growth and development.
I was raised Catholic but stopped going to church after graduating from high school. My sister was saved when she was in her 20s when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I knew that once she was saved, she started praying for me to get saved as well. She mentioned she wanted me to be in heaven with her. I credit those consistent prayers with my ultimate decision to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. At that time, I had a limited knowledge of salvation. I did not have enough knowledge to take action even if I wanted to.
Though I had limited knowledge about the things of faith, I often felt that something was missing in my life. I have always known about prayer, and I realize now I have always been led by the Lord, but at that time I thought it was all me. I thought I was making good decisions or, I had good instincts. So, church was never the solution; I felt I was doing just fine without it. I couldn’t bring myself to go back to church. All I knew was that I felt I never learned anything practical. I felt I did not learn anything I could walk out the door and do. So, instead of returning to church, I got up every Sunday morning, and I went to a variety of different bookstores that had a café within the store. I would order a cup of coffee and a muffin and read books like Chicken Soup for the Soul. That was my church. The stories always touched me. It was reaching a part of my heart that was left dormant for a very long time. Love, encouragement, and faith rose up within me.
This ritual went on for several years until it was not enough. I was not being filled. Now what; I thought. I started noticing a lot of mega churches popping up, so I thought maybe I would give them a try. So, I dropped my cafe church and started to slowly church hop. I cannot count the number of churches I visited. Most of them I would sneak out within the first 15 to 20 minutes when they started preaching about paying tithes. I always sat in the back row, so I could sneak out unnoticed. I very seldom paid attention. If I had not gotten groceries the day before I would prepare my grocery list. If a good movie were playing at the local theater, I would sneak out to get to the matinee on time, or I left early to beat the traffic. I was going through the motions. I wasn’t listening to the sermons; I wasn’t reading the Bible, I wasn’t growing. I just showed up at church because that’s what you do on Sunday mornings.
One day while sitting in the back row of a church thinking about my To Do List, I heard a voice on the inside of me speak. I immediately recognized it was the Lord. He said, “Either commit or quit.” His voice hit me like a ton of bricks. It was powerful and said in a way that meant; it is your choice. Choose me or the world. I was shaken to the core. Suddenly I was hit in the face with my behavior. I felt miserable. I felt ashamed. I looked around at all the faces looking at the pastor and shaking their heads and saying amen, and here I was with a pen and paper completing a task list. I was chastised and challenged by the Lord. I had to make a choice. I was wasting time. I sat up straight n the pew, and I tried to listen to the rest of the sermon as best I could, but I had missed so much I could not follow what he was saying, and what made it worse I realized I did not even have a bible. That was it. Things had to change. I left church and spent the afternoon driving around to different bookstores to purchase a Bible. I found one I liked so I purchased my first Bible with a nice leather carrying case. Thus, began my journey of transforming to my new life as a committed believer.
When I showed up for church the next week, I sat five rows from the front with my brand-new bible. My knowledge of salvation was still limited. I still only understood that if I got saved, I would go to heaven. But now I had a fire in me that knew this was something I could not pass up. My family and friends noticed a change in me. Though I could not minister to them, I remember speaking with a relative who had not accepted Jesus as their Lord and savior. They did not think they needed to. They felt that if they lived “right” they would get to heaven. I said, “Well for me I’d rather accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and get to the pearly gates, and they tell me I do not need Jesus rather than I get there, and they tell me I do, and turn me away. That’s a chance I’m unwilling to take.” I said, “I encourage you to fully commit to the Lord.”
35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. Mark 8:35