Today i am 26! Don’t let the gray hair and follically-challenged head fool you. In “re-birth” years, i’m a millennial! On this day in 1991, i surrendered my life, and fully entered into a personal love relationship with my Lord Jesus Christ. It has been a phenomenal adventure ever since — full of mountain tops, but also valleys — clear skies, but also stormy days — days of assurance, but also many filled with the uncertain and unknown.
Many of you know my story. i had prayed “the prayer” when i was six years old at a Bible Club meeting in the basement of my grandparents’ home. i had “walked the aisle” at a citywide evangelistic crusade when i was ten. Soon after, my pastor “baptized” me at the church my family was attending. To the best of my knowledge, i had “done” everything that i was supposed to “do” to know that i was “saved”. As i became an adult and i was asked these key questions:
1. Have you come to the place in your spiritual life where you can say you know for certain that if you were to die today you would go to heaven?
2. Suppose that you were to die today and stand before God and he were to say to you, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” what would you say?
i knew the right answers! i knew where i was headed when i die! i could pass the test! It was an honor badge i had earned — and no one could take it from me. My eternity was assured — so let me go on and live the rest of my life the way i saw fit, no longer having to worry about where i would spend eternity.
There was only one flaw in my thinking.
i had missed the whole truth of the gospel! You see, i thought the gospel was all about me! Don’t misunderstand me — i knew that God had paid the ultimate sacrifice for my sin through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son. And i knew that it was a sin debt that i could not pay. But you see, i viewed it as all about me — my sins being forgiven and my eternal destiny being assured. Now don’t misunderstand me, both of those statements are truly by-products of salvation — but they are not God’s primary purpose. God’s ultimate purpose is not about us — it’s about Him! He desires for us to walk in a love relationship with Him — expressing our worship of Him and bringing glory to Him. Think of the picture that John describes in the Book of Revelation — as he describes the multitude from every tribe, tongue and nation gathered around the throne of God worshipping Him. Look in the book of Genesis — before sin entered the picture. The Lord God walked about the garden with Adam in the cool of the evening. It was a picture of a loving relationship between the Creator and His creation. A relationship that was destroyed by sin. A relationship that Jesus came to restore — and to restore not solely for the hereafter — but also for the here and now.
Jesus made the way — not so i would just pray a prayer and move on — He made the way for me to walk in the fullness of the relationship for which God created me — to love Him, to honor Him, to worship Him, to glorify Him — with my whole heart, soul and mind. And yet somehow i had cheapened it, as if it represented some type of eternal life insurance policy — redeemable upon death.
On the days leading up to May 26, 1991, the Lord had been opening my eyes to the truth that i had settled for so much less than He was offering. i had settled for a consumer’s imitation of the truth — i had settled for worthless talk and godless behavior. i had settled for a consumer’s Jesus who saved me from what i deserved but was okay with me living my life my own way as i saw fit. The Lord brought me face-to-face with the truth in 2 Timothy 2:21 where Paul writes,
“if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.”
God had created me to be a vessel for His honor, sanctified and useful by Him for His purpose and prepared, as i walk with Him, to be used by Him for every good work. He saved me to walk with Him — not for my purpose but for His. He saved me from my sin so that i could walk with Him — yes, in the cool of the evening — but also in the heat of the day and the darkness of night. He saved me to worship Him — not with a portion of my being — but with all of me. So, on this day twenty-six years ago, i turned it all over to Him — and on that day (as Jesus described it to Nicodemus in John chapter 3), i became reborn.
i share this with you as one who is grateful to my LORD that He didn’t give up on me. He actively pursued me — and truly, He still does. Because i know that apart from Him i can do nothing. i really had nothing to give Him — nothing to bring Him. It’s all by His grace. And on this, my 26th re-birth-day, i just want to thank Him — praise Him — and worship Him through this feeble attempt to express my love for Him.