Flipping through the pages of my RE-birthday calendar, I realized I was two days late wishing my friend Tina a happy RE-birthday. Yes, RE-birthday. A year ago, I was with her when something supernatural took place. The eyes of her heart were enlightened, the veil was lifted, and as she turned from darkness, and toward Jesus Christ, she began to realize not only the depth of our fall, but the beauty of His grace. That evening, she received TRUE forgiveness of her sins, and an inheritance of eternal life with Him. As we Christians like to put it, she “got saved.”
It was an evening I’ll never forget, and the beginning of a friendship I will forever cherish.
Whenever I am blessed enough to witness those scales being pulled back from the heart and spiritual eyes of someone, I return in my memory to that of my own “re-birthday.” I wish I remembered the date, but all I am able to recall is that it was in a small room in a strip mall on the east side of Gratiot, just north of Metro Parkway in Mount Clemens, Michigan. It was cold and rainy, and there was old, dirty snow on the ground – the end of a long winter, I’m guessing. There was a man there who prayed with me, and walked me through what Romans 10:9 says we must do, confessing with our mouths and believing in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead. So that evening, in a dingy little room in a strip mall, I “got saved.”
Here’s where the story becomes difficult to tell. In fact, many times I have tried. How do I tell the story of where I was, and how I arrived where I am, without offending anyone? And why does that HAVE to offend anyone, anyways?? You see, I was raised catholic. I was raised catholic by a mother and father who loved me and sacrificed every single day to make sure I received what they believed was the best education available. They went without, often, to provide me with that. I love and appreciate them for that, and always will.
But where MY story took a turn and became MINE, is where I’d like to pick up. The possibility of hurting anyone has kept me from telling it for a long, long time. And if I do hurt anyone, it will certainly NOT be purposeful. But I am at a point in my life where I KNOW, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I am supposed to tell it. I am!
The reason for telling the story of my journey is not so that you can find out all of my past secrets and sins, or hear about how holy I think I might be now, or how you should become more like me. No, that’s not the reason at ALL. In fact, as I reflect on my reasons for beginning this story, I’m convinced by the time I am finished, I will likely have added more reasons to tell it.
That evening back in 1979 when I made the decision to accept Christ as my Savior was the night I made the most important eternal decision I ever made. The other best decision I ever made was in 2009 when I decided that accepting Him as my Savior wasn’t quite enough. He gave His life for me, so I wanted to give mine back to Him, and learn what 1 Peter 2:21 meant, “For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.” I wanted to learn how to surrender my life to, and actually FOLLOW Him!
The decades between my decision to ACCEPT Him as my Savior, and the decision to FOLLOW Him felt void. I left that strip mall saved, with not a soul to teach me what it meant to FOLLOW Jesus, to disciple me, or to show me what having a relationship with my living Savior was to look like. In fact, I didn’t even OWN a Bible until 1995, when a classmate gave me one as a gift. This is WHY I keep a “RE-birthday calendar.” We were born into a sinful, evil world, and although the day of our birth is fun to celebrate, NOTHING will ever be more worth celebrating than the day someone is born AGAIN, and inherits eternal life with Jesus Christ. Nothing!
So little by little, I’m going to tell the story of my journey, in hopes that it helps others see that God does not call us to belong to some exclusive club, to work our way into heaven, or to perform a series of rituals to hopefully be found worthy of making it someday to heaven. I’m telling it with the prayer that others’ hearts can be enlightened, veils lifted, and they can turn from darkness and toward Jesus Christ. I’m telling it with the prayer that you, like my friend Tina, realize the depth of our fall and the beauty of God’s grace. I’m telling it with the prayer that you too, receive TRUE forgiveness of your sins, and an inheritance of eternal life with Him.
And it is by no coincidence that you are reading this. So, I’ll add this prayer also – That you realize that!
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