Today is my 41st spiritual birthday (January 24, 1976). I want to repeat what I shared last year at this time: some reflections on my years of walking with Jesus. I hesitate even to state it like that—“my years of walking with Jesus”—because it sounds like something I have done. My relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ is all of Him, from beginning to end. In mercy God drew me to Himself and He is the One who sustains me on this glorious journey.
“Drew me to Himself” … I was aware God was pulling me toward Him for 5-6 years before I repented and received Christ as my Savior. The moment of my turning was at the conclusion of a revival meeting being held in the church I attended during college. The Good News was proclaimed—peace with God through faith in the crucified and resurrected Lord Jesus—and I wanted that peace. Guilt weighed heavy on my heart and hell loomed real before me. But when I trusted in Christ that night, peace flooded in.
That was 41 years ago. Here are some reflections on journeying with Christ since then.
The Gospel is precious. The Good News of Jesus Christ is not just a doorway to heaven, not just “fire insurance” to escape hell … although it is certainly both. It is the root of the Christian life. It is the power of God for salvation and for life transformation. I want to marinate my mind and heart in the Gospel daily. I see its power in my life. It is more precious to me now than ever.
Church is essential. Worshiping with an assembly of believers, learning, praying, and serving together is part and parcel of journeying with Jesus. Connecting with other Christians around Jesus is a non-negotiable. I grow in Christ in community with others who know Him. I have been blessed to be part of a number of local churches since I have lived in a number of different cities over the years. Each of these communities of faith has helped me on toward Christ.
Bible reading and prayer nourish my soul. Where would I be without God’s Holy Word? I would be adrift on the sea of human ideas and imaginings. I would have nothing with which to counter Satan’s lies. I would be mired in my own self-deceptions. And how would I express and experience relationship with God without the blessing of prayer? I hear from God in His Word and I talk to Him through prayer.
Change is incremental. Although I experienced noticeable life change immediately upon being saved, much more change was and still is needed. I am aware of areas in my life which need to change in order for me to become more like Jesus. But I also realize that is not going to happen overnight. Day to day it feels like I am stuck in my sinful ways but when I look back over a longer period of time I am able to detect change. Praise be to God!
Temptation to sin does not go away. The battle is relentless. I face the same temptations over and over. I have seen, however, that the Lord can empower me to resist. He can bring the victory … through the Gospel, through the Bible, through His Holy Spirit, through prayer, through Christian brothers.
Perseverance is a huge priority. It has become more apparent to me that the Christian life is not just a marathon; it is an Ironman Triathlon competition! … a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.2-mile run, back to back without a break. The Christian life is long and hard. Finishing well is a must. I will experience discouragement, fatigue, failure and Satanic opposition; I know I will because I have. But I cannot, I dare not abandon Jesus on the journey. I want to be able to say what the Apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Faithful to the very end. Lord, help me.
As I seek Jesus He will guide me. There is so much to learn on this journey. And there are many, many books about the Christian life available in the English language … with many more coming out each year. I cannot keep up. The good news is that I don’t need to! I have the main Book and if I continue to seek Jesus through its holy pages, He will guide me along. He will bring to my attention what I need. I see Him doing this in my life.
God has been most gracious to me. He caused me to be born again into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. He began a good work in me and He will bring it to completion until the day of Christ. Soli Deo gloria.