When I am asked to share my “salvation story” — the moment in my life when I asked Jesus into my heart, accepted Him as my Lord and Savior — when I’m asked for that story, I’m tempted to give the short version. But a question like that deserves the whole story. Here is my three-step ascent to the moment I knew Jesus saw me and loved me.
Step one: How does a shy, insecure, people-pleasing Catholic girl respond when the boy she’s had a crush on all year (the guy who attends youth group at a local non-denominational church) leads her in the sinner’s prayer? She opens her anxious heart wide and embraces that thing she’s seen in the boy and in other Christians.
Then she tells her mom, who tells the priest, who explains “salvation” in a way that sounds nothing like the state of joyful surrender offered by the boy.
And she goes off to college, leaving her Catholic Bible at home, but bringing a copy of The Living Bible. It sits on the book shelf in her dorm room, proclaiming that she is saved by grace though the lifestyle she’s choosing denies it daily.
Step two: As a young married woman, she attends services at a country Baptist church and on a summer Sunday, she is baptized in a local lake. The infant baptism her parents had told her was enough doesn’t measure up to her desire to secure eternal life with Jesus.
But life happens. She stumbles, turns back to her Catholic roots looking for healing and answers, but runs from all of it when her marriage crumbles. She decides maybe none of it “stuck” — not the sinner’s prayer or the full-immersion baptism or even the sprinkling of water on her newborn head. With two small children to raise on her own, she decides to go it alone. And she does.
Step three: God obviously doesn’t give up so easily, and sends a godly man into her life. They begin attending his church. When the first pastor refuses to marry them because she is divorced, another one steps in and blesses the marriage. He becomes her mentor, pastor and friend. Bible study with other women becomes life blood to her.
And at the foot of a wooden cross, during a women’s retreat, in a tiny church at a Christian camp, she has her “come to Jesus” moment.
“It is he who saved us and chose us for his holy work not because we deserved it but because that was his plan long before the world began—to show his love and kindness to us through Christ.” 2 Timothy 1:9 (The Living Bible)
On that autumn morning when Jesus saw me — saw my sin, my fear, my denial and my need — when I knew He knew me but still loved me not because I deserved it, but because it was His plan. On that day, I gave it all to him and never turned back.
I love sharing my three-step salvation story because I know the world needs our stories. Our life stories inform who we are, who we will become. They have the power to become a common thread that joins us. This quote from Redeemed Bible Study by IF:Gathering tells me the “church” — those God created and called — needs to hear my story and yours.
“When we keep silent about our stories, the church suffers. When we share what God has done in our lives, we bring Him glory and encourage those around us.”
Life stories knit us together, whether to family or to others who just need to know they are not alone. In these 31 days of October, I’ll be exploring the importance of STORY. You can read all 31 days by following the links under “31 Days of Story”. Thank you for joining me!
Tomorrow: Tips for capturing your life stories