Imagine you are fourteen years old. It's the Fourth of July and you are riding in the driver's side rear seat of your family's SUV. You're having a blast enjoying the day with your mom, dad, and brother. Imagine that the car comes to a stop at an intersection and proceeds to cross the highway when the way is clear. Imagine that you look out your window and see a Jeep appear out of nowhere, it's heading directly for you, and you know it's going to crash into you. You don't scream. There is nothing you can do but watch in horror. Metal slams against metal as the front end of the Jeep collides with your door, the impact sending your car and your entire world spinning. It seems to take forever for the car to stop moving, and when it does you realize that somehow you are still alive. You begin taking stock of your body, yet amazingly nothing feels injured. You notice that your father and brother are also alright. You instinctively know not to even try your door--it won't open--so you slide over and follow your brother out his door. Your mother is still in the car--she's alive, but unconscious. You're sobbing, and someone tells you they think you should sit down until the ambulance arrives. Sirens blare in your ears as a small army of firefighters, EMTs, and police officers arrive on the scene and surround you. It seems to take an eternity until they finally cut your mother's car door open with the Jaws of Life. But, by then you are lying on your back wearing a neck brace, so you can't look anywhere but straight up at the sky. You're more scared than you've ever been in your life. Then comes the surreal ambulance ride and emergency room exam. Finally, four hours later your entire family miraculously walks out of the hospital with no serious injuries. You are incredibly grateful that everyone is alright, but you are also a control freak and now begins the battle with what you believe to be a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
No, that's not the opening of my next suspense book, that's MY story! Lately, I've heard a lot of people talking about celebrating their Spiritual Birthday (The Day they were saved) and for a while it bothered me because I cannot remember the first day that I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and be my savior. After the accident I found myself terrified to even get into a car for fear that I would be in another accident, and that the next time it would be worse. That worry plagued me for over a year, but it began the process of my salvation and rebirth. I had grown up going to church often and believing in God, but I had no clue what true salvation was or how to attain it. Around that time God awakened within me a passionate desire to remain sexually pure until marriage, it was through the reading of books on the topic of purity that I came to understand The Gospel and what salvation is. The paralyzingly fear I felt led me to realize I couldn't do life alone, and helped me to see just how much I need Jesus! I wish I could say that I made it easy for God to get through to me, but I was a very untrusting, problem child for Him. I also wish I could say that I realized my need for forgiveness and my savior all at once, in one moment on one day, but the truth is it was a very slow process. Over the years I've probably prayed ten different versions of the sinner's prayer, and it took more times of hitting my knees and begging for forgiveness and salvation than I can count for me to finally start to believe that I was truly saved, that God had prevented me from dying in that car accident for a purpose: to give me the chance to choose to give my life to Him! When I realized this my fear started to disappear. Yet, there were still times that doubt and fear crept into my mind. Fear of all the bad things that could happen to me in life, doubt that I was truly saved, doubt that I had enough faith to continue being brave. But each time God never failed to remind me that it was all in His control, not mine, which gave the control freak in me freedom from constant fear. Don't think that there aren't still moments when I struggle, there are. Lots of them. Sometimes more difficult than others, and of course I always think that I am correct in my thinking that I'm beyond hope. Yet, God never stops pursuing me and opening His arms for me to run back into them where He holds me and reassures me that He loves me and He has forgiven and saved me and that nothing can ever change that. I'm nowhere near perfect, and as much as I wish I could say it's not true, sometimes the struggle with overcoming fear and doubt and trusting God is a daily battle that it seems I fail at more often than I succeed. Sometimes the lying little voice in my head chimes in, telling me "What is the matter with you? You've been a Christian for how long? And yet you still struggle with trusting God and letting go of fear, how can you call yourself a Christian?" But all I have to do is cry out to Him and He floods my soul with peace and a renewed perspective that helps me destroy those lies and replace them with truth. Even when I don't realize it God is teaching me a little more each day what it means to lean on Him, and to allow my heart to trust and rest in Him! I love Him with all my heart, He is my everything! I'm still a work in progress, but I am His beloved work in progress, and that is all that matters. His presence is all I need, and I am so grateful that His mercies are new every morning.
So, even though I can't pin down one exact date as the first day of my new life in Christ, I have decided that this year I will have an extra reason to celebrate.
Independence Day will always be the day that marks the turning point in my life that sparked the chain of events that led to my salvation and the true beginning of my life, and isn't it interesting that Independence Day is the day I celebrate as the catalyst for my learning to be Dependent on God?! He does work in mysterious ways!
Thank you, Jesus for July 4th 2006.
"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
Do you know? God loves YOU! Jesus willingly died on that cross to save YOU! He hopes you will believe in Him and accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life in heaven that He is offering YOU! No matter what YOU have done His grace is unending! If YOU are ready here is a prayer you can pray:
Jesus, I know I have sinned against you and have fallen short of God's perfect standard. I believe that you died on that cross and rose from the dead so that I could be saved. Amazing savior, please forgive me and wash my sins away with the blood you shed for me on Calvary.
I accept you as my Lord with all my heart and give my life to you from this moment forward. Amen.