Wednesday, August 28, 2013

my salvation story and why you should tell yours

I always find it to be such an encouragement to read others' testimonies. And I don't think I've ever shared mine on the blog, at least not the whole story. So here goes my attempt at explaining how I said "yes" to Jesus and He became my best friend.

I grew up in the church (funny how so many people can say that, but not all of us actually know Jesus, right? Okay, not funny. Sad actually. Heartbreaking really). I was baptized as an infant in the Episcopal church. As a small child and into my teen years we attended a Methodist church (later on in high school I attended Presbyterian, Calvary Chapel, non-denominational and Baptist churches. Then as an adult we went to an Evangelical-Free church and another Baptist. My point is, denomination doesn't matter. What matters is Jesus. Is He there? Do they preach about His grace and His love and is everything they teach biblical? Good, then the title on the outside of the building isn't a big deal). Wow, so I guess I get distracted easily. I promise I'll stay on topic now.

My point is, I grew up going to Sunday school every week. I attended Vacation Bible School every. single. summer. I knew all the songs. All the hymns. I sang in the choir. I went to summer camp. I spent a lot of time at church. But guess what. I didn't know Jesus. Yeah, I heard about Him. I knew who He was, in the sense that He was the Son of God (I don't think it ever really, truly, deeply occurred to me that He is God). I knew the cutesie Bible stories about Him, you know, the nice, neat stories we tell our kids. And I knew a lot about the Old Testament too. But I didn't know Jesus. No one ever introduced me to Him, personally. No one ever explained why His life and death needed to matter to me. No one told me the impact that the cross could have on my life. 

And all this while I sat in Sunday school class after Sunday school class and sermon after sermon. 

Now, I can't say for certain that a preacher or teacher never explained the cross in a lesson or sermon. I can only say for certain, that I didn't hear it. And it' a funny thing how the Holy Spirit works. He has a time and a place for everyone. It wasn't as if the gospel was preached to me and after it was over and I didn't respond, the Holy Spirit said, "Oh dang, I forgot to move her heart or awaken her soul so she would accept Jesus." He had an appointed time for my conversion

So, like I said, no one had yet introduced me to Jesus in a way that caused me to respond to Him. Until a group of us went on a trip from Las Vegas to Los Angeles for a youth evangelism conference. It was one night there, in a huge auditorium, filled with teenagers from across the Western US, that the speaker gave an altar call, a good 'ole fashioned altar call. And it was then and there that I met Jesus for the first time. It was then and there that it all made sense. It was then and there that I received His grace for the first time.

jessi  13
[me with two of my best friends at the convention]

Until this point I didn't fully grasp what the cross was all about. He died on the cross and rose on the 3rd day. So what? I get it, we celebrate Easter because He rose from the dead. But what does that have to do with me?

Everything.

You see, in my sin and depravity, I had no hope of ever knowing God, my Creator. I was born sinful. We all are. That's what the curse of Adam is all about. He sinned and from that point forward, he passed his sin on to every single human being (except Jesus who was begotten of God and a woman, but not a man. Sin is passed down through a man. Sorry, started to get off topic again!). So even though I was young and didn't have a whole lot of outright sin under my belt, I was sinful nevertheless (and if you don't think children are sinful, I can only assume you've never met a child in your life).

But God, in His infinite mercy and grace and love, sent Jesus to be the Man that no other man could be. He lived on earth, completely free of sin. He was placed on the cross by His very own creation. And in that place, He was the true blameless and spotless Lamb. On Him was placed all the sin of the world. All of my sin. All of your sin. And God saw Him as an acceptable sacrifice for the atonement of those sins. God poured out His wrath on His own Son, the wrath that was meant for you and me because of our sin. And on that day, Jesus died a terrible, horrific, painful death.

But because the story doesn't end there, because Jesus raised Himself from the dead, we were given the opportunity to know God, our Creator. And here is the part that took so long to get from my brain to my heart: because Jesus was an acceptable sacrifice, because He died in my place, because He took on the wrath that was meant for me, in accepting that truth and accepting Him as Truth, I am saved. My sin is washed away. My debt has been paid. I am set free. And now, I know my God, my Creator.

And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:3

I often shy away from my testimony because I was saved at the age of 12. It's not like I had this amazing redemption story. I mean, I know it is an amazing redemption story. I was a slave to sin, (12 or 36 or 87, we are all hopeless and living in sin unless we accept the freedom of Jesus) and He saved me. That is my redemption story. But you know what I mean. I wasn't living a life of debauchery, dealing drugs or engulfed in a particularly sinful lifestyle when I met Jesus. 

But I think that is what is so good about my story. It's Jesus' story. It's all of His children's story: We were slaves to sin. We were helpless and hopeless. We were separated from Him. And He saved us. He called us His own. He set us free. He poured out His grace and mercy over us and it continues to flow freely and without end, each and every day. That is why the gospel is called the good news. We were lost and now are found. Thank you Jesus for saving my soul!

So I tell you all this to say, don't shy away from your story. Whether you were at a completely desolate place when Jesus saved you or whether you were 7 years old when you asked Him into your heart. It's the same story. You were lost, and now you are found. You were a slave to your flesh and sin and are now set free. Thanks be to the Lord Almighty that He saw fit to reconcile us back to Himself. And that then, He gives us the opportunity to share our stories with others so that they too may know Him and His grace and mercy and freedom.

And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony Revelation 12:11

2 comments:

  1. Hi Jessi
    Thanks for sharing your testimony of God's grace on your life. Like you, I was saved at a young age, but it was NOT because I was young, or that I was part of a Christian family, but God chose to have grace on me, a wretched sinner. Praise God that He gives life to the lifeless. Pete

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  2. I love this, Jessi! So good. You are so right on.

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