Even though I’m 36, I was really born 22 years ago yesterday.
It’s hard to word that. I wanted to say, “I became a Christian” or “I started my journey with Jesus.”
Words fall short.
I’d been reading the Bible and doing “Christian” things for years before August 17, 1986. In the early ’80s, my parents had led me in the “sinner’s prayer.” And at some other point, I’d responded to a call from a former Red Sox baseball player when he led a group in the “sinner’s prayer.”
But it took root on August 17, 1986 at a place called Camp Fairhaven.
I was full of Bible knowledge and strong opinions. But hearing a speaker tell of the intense, grueling experience of crucifixion, something in me broke. All I’d done up to that point was built on my own effort. My work. My learning.
But the cross was the boldest statement that all I had done wasn’t enough. Not nearly enough.
I remember sitting in that meeting and thinking, Jesus could’ve blurted out “I didn’t mean it!” or “Hey guys, I was just kidding!” at any point during the humiliation and incredible pain of the process.
But he didn’t.
And I remember so clearing wondering if all the other teens in the room would think I were a freak for being moved by this. It just didn’t make sense. God became man? I’d be forgiven without having to earn it? God would be so restrictive as to have only one way? Come on. That’s just not right.
But, in the end, I realized I didn’t want to risk it. I decided to throw my lot in with Jesus. If it weren’t true, then I’d be no worse off at death. If it were true, then I’d have eternal life. So I timidly raised my hand and was led out back to pray.
Now, 22 years later, I know a couple things about that day. One, it was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. Two, that I don’t even get credit for making that decision; God had been pursuing me and my family even before I was born.
I still don’t have all the answers. And stuff Jesus said still makes me uncomfortable. I also know that this life with Jesus is more than a one-time “(born again” experience and more about becoming life-long students or “disciples.”
But with the freedom and growth I’ve experienced in the last couple decades, I’m more convinced than ever that this journey with Jesus is the way we were all created to live.
So Happy Birthday to me. And Soli Deo Gloria–to God alone be the glory!