Knowing Christ for 52 Years
This past October 1st, I celebrated my 52nd anniversary of becoming a Christian. On the morning of October 1st, 1967, at the age of 18 (you can do the math), I heard the good news, the Gospel, that I didn’t need to earn God’s love by being perfect in order to enter heaven. God the Father had provided the way through His Son Jesus’s death and resurrection. What great news to that spiritually weary 18-year-old.
Although I’m still facing wrong ideas after these many years, several stand out that adversely affected me a lot in the beginning. I think most young Christians can struggle with these same ideas.
I’ll become perfect.
I thought I’d become a Christian so that God could make me instantly perfect. But then I learned Philippians 1:6: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (NIV). That let me know that I would always be in a process of growth.
I’ll figure out God.
It seemed like learning God’s attributes and reading about Him in the Bible would enable me to know how and why He did things. The Bible said God answers prayers and is dependable. Therefore, if I ask, God will answer.
Then came a short term missionary trip to Jamaica. One evening I needed to decide where our witnessing team would work the next day. I prayed and sensed God’s leading clearly. What a thrill!
But the next day it rained such a torrent that even the locals weren’t out and about. I was discouraged. Could I ever trust that I could know God’s voice?
There have been many situations like that, and also, times when it turned out well. I learned I might not always know God’s will perfectly but I could trust God knew what He was doing, even when I didn’t.
The Bible will become boring.
“After all, you can only read a book so many times,” I thought.
Many years ago I was furious at a Christian company which reneged on giving a refund. I tried to surrender knowing it was God’s money to do with as He pleased, yet I slipped back into old patterns of wanting revenge and our money.
One day I surrendered again, crying out to God by writing in my journal, “Father God, this is not hidden from Your sight and neither are Your eyes closed and uncaring. Thank you, Lord, that I can surrender all my cares to You—and the money.”
I suddenly felt directed by the Holy Spirit to look at Jeremiah 17. At the top of that page a verse jumped out at me: “My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes” (Jeremiah 16:17, NIV).
I was shocked. That verse confirmed the very thing I had written in my journal just moments before.
I realized that the Word of God applied by the Spirit of God gives all Christians an entire lifetime of finding the Bible relevant for every situation and challenge.
Of course, these three lessons are only a few of many. I trust that there will be many more lessons ahead.