I am frequently blessed to hear someone’s personal story about how they came to know Jesus and to accept Him not only as Savior but as Master of their life as well. Each story is fresh and uniquely different.
There is no formula, no prescribed manner in which things take place; but the individual’s coming to know Jesus is always the result of God’s initiative and at the special time set by God Himself. The one common thread in the stories I hear is the absolute joy on the face of the believer who is telling the story. People are varied and complex; no two are alike.
God utilizes such differences to customize each person’s experience. A close friend of mine has a story similar to my own, but with a different path, both leading to the same conclusion. I will call my friend Claire.
Claire and I were baptized at the age of twelve. Both of us then continued living in a life of sin. The main difference between my path to Jesus and hers, was the fact that God blessed me with the certainty that I was a sinner and that my act of submission was “ineffective.” I wanted to be saved and kept trying to be “good enough” but failed miserably.
Claire, on the other hand, knew with certainty that she was saved because she had made a confession of faith and was baptized. She like me, however, continued in a life of sin that escalated even as she grew older and experienced the thrill of the college years and young adulthood. I kept searching for salvation and Claire didn’t because she knew that she was saved.
Both of us had lifestyles that clearly Word Within International, Inc. manifested a lack of any relationship with God. Claire remained secure in her “salvation experience” until she was in her thirties doing things she knew she should not be doing but not really caring. One day she was sitting in a Precept class and the instructor explained from Second Peter what the behavior of a true Christian would look like.
Claire looked inward and realized that her lifestyle did not fit the profile of a believer as outlined in scripture. With the help of her instructor, she confessed her sins and asked Jesus into her heart. In due time, she became a Bible teacher herself. I continued in my wayward lifestyle until at the age of forty-four I finally realized that my salvation was up to God, and not me.
I didn’t fully understand grace at that time, but I was made aware of the scripture in Jeremiah where God promised to deliver me from the “exile” I was in if I would seek Him with all my heart. Believing God meant what He said, I threw my self into Bible study and within the week I stood before a small study group and confessed my faith and my salvation. I am now a teacher of the Bible.
Claire and I started on the same level and ended up at the same destination, but the in-betweens were opposite ends of the pole. Neither the beginning point or the “in-betweens” matters. All that matters to God is where we end up, not how we get there. Whatever your story is, it is your story. All that matters is that you have given your heart to Jesus — all of it.