For Real This Time...
I remember distinctly the first time I prayed the sinner’s prayer. It was in the basement of a neighborhood family that was hosting a backyard bible club. They asked anyone who would like to go to heaven to raise their hand and pray a prayer with them. My six year old self was terrified of dying and the possibility of going to hell, so I quickly raised my hand.
For the next 13 years I would point back to that time and say, ‘Yes, I’m a Christian!’ Yet, I wrestled daily with whether or not my life pleased God. As I grew older and entered the tumultuous teen years, I quickly gave up on trying to be perfect for God (although I put up a pretty good façade). Instead, I chose a much easier way to live. Do what I want, and ask forgiveness afterwards if needed. God would surely forgive me, because he loved me, right?! Definitely not the ideal way to live, and I learned that pretty quickly.
I still sought out spiritual activities and Bible studies, especially when I was in college. They made me feel good about myself, and gave me a group of people to identify myself with. Since I wasn’t into partying, it was a good fit. That’s how I ended up on a women’s retreat where I heard something I’d never heard before.
A woman spoke about what sin really is and how God feels about it. Sin wasn’t just doing bad things, but the reality that no one has ever lived a perfect life. Except Jesus. Sin is abhorrent to God. It grieves his heart. And for the first time, the reality of my plight hit me. I couldn’t catch my breath. I had been knowingly living a life of sin, flippantly asking forgiveness. I felt arrogant and utterly wretched. It was then I know that God saved me from my sin, and I turned to Him in faith.
That faith gave me the courage to pray, “Heavenly Father, help me deny myself, take up my cross, and follow you (Matthew 16:24).” I was scared because I knew I would be going home to make some drastic changes that would affect my relationships with other people. I feared being alone. Yet I knew God demanded change. I could not, now being enlightened to my depravity, continue on the same path I had been going down.
In the weeks to follow, God proved to me his love and compassion. He placed many sweet new friendships in my life to get me through the changes I needed to make. He filled me with a hunger for His word. He provided me a peace I had never known.
Friend, have you truly laid down your life for Christ? Or are you living your own life and just paying Him lip service? I urge you to examine your faith.
2 Corinthians 13 : 5
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”
Resource: Rhinestone Jesus