On a day in early springtime, I rode on a big yellow bus with a bunch of other kids up to the Santa Cruz Mountains of California to a Young Life retreat weekend at Mount Hermon Conference Center. The cherry trees were covered with showy blossoms. During the day we played games and did a lot of singing. One of the leaders asked me, “Are you a Christian?”
I gave her a puzzled reply, “Of course! Isn’t everybody? Isn’t this a Christian nation?”
The speaker that night told of God’s great love for me. He quoted Bible verses about how God loved me so much that He came to earth in the form of a sinless man and died for me to pay for my sins. Jesus died for ME!? This was news—He did it for me, personally. Wow! I also never knew that Jesus was God—I thought He was just a cool guy and a good example to follow. Jesus is God! Amazing! With new thoughts going around in my head, the speaker gave us a fifteen-minute quiet time. We were to walk out in complete silence and go somewhere alone to talk to Jesus/God.
I sat under one of those blooming cherry trees, looked up at the stars, and cried my heart out. In the midst of much confusion, because I thought I was already a Christian just by attending the Catholic Church and being a U.S. citizen, I talked to the Lord Jesus for the first time. I thanked Him for His death for my sins. I thanked Him for His love. I remember feeling a deep sense of relief and I felt settled in my heart about my faith when I got done praying.
When I walked back to my cabin, my Young Life leader smiled at me. My eyes were red from crying, but I smiled right back at her and looked into her sparkling eyes. I could tell she knew. She asked me again, “Are you a Christian now?”
I said, “Yes! I am now!” She took both my hands and jumped up and down and spun me around and laughed. Then she opened her Bible and shared a Scripture verse that has become one of my favorites.
2 Corinthians 5:17,18 If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
She had a little butterfly drawn in the margin of her Bible by this verse. She explained that a good analogy of becoming a Christian, is a butterfly coming out of a cocoon—a new creation. It is coming alive, spiritually, on the inside. In the Bible, Jesus calls it being “born again.” In fact, Jesus said, “You must be born again.” John 3:7
The next day I bought myself a Bible in the camp bookstore. I wrote my name inside the cover and copied out “my” verse and drew a butterfly beside it. Then I wrote down the date I became a new creation and started a new life in Christ—March 25, 1974.
I committed to reading two pages of the Bible, God’s Words to me, each day. On March 25 this year, 2012, I celebrate 38 years of life with Jesus, and He has been much more than my redeemer. He is my creator, my friend, my counselor, my provider, my strength, my teacher, my father, and He has even been a mother to me. Because we as Christians are the Bride of Christ, I have also come to know Jesus as my Groom, the love of my life. Jesus said, “This is eternal life that you KNOW Me.” John 17:3 Isn’t it amazing that we can know the Lord of all creation a little bit better every day?
Thank You, Jesus, for Your love, Your life, and Your JOY. I’m so glad I met You 38 years ago. I love You, God! "You show me the path of life and in Your presence is fullness of JOY!"Psalm 16:11 and Acts 2:28.