April 28th is a very special day in my life. It marks my spiritual anniversary of coming to know the Lord.
Since this month includes both my spiritual birthday and Easter, I wanted to share my salvation journey with you. The whole scope of salvation is a journey. It doesn’t stop at our initial rebirth but continues into eternity.
From an early age, my parents shared the gospel with me. I remember times at the end of visits with my grandparents when my grandmother would motion to me and ask me quietly if I had accepted Jesus as my Savior yet. I always shook my head no. Someday I would accept Jesus, but not yet. I knew heaven and hell were real places, but that didn’t bother me at all. If I died, I went to hell, and in my childish thinking, that was totally fine with me.
One day, about a month and a half after my seventh birthday, my dad and I took a trip to the grocery store. I don’t remember why, but we picked up ginger ale along with some other groceries. Maybe it was just a treat, or maybe someone was sick (ginger ale can calm the stomach), but whatever the reason, we picked some up.
As I was jumping out of the car, my dad said something to the effect of, “I really wish you were saved.”
Something clicked in my mind that night. Because my dad wanted me to be saved, I wanted it too. I didn’t say anything at that moment though. We walked inside and my mom poured the ginger ale into little brown glasses. Usually pop was a big treat, but that night I couldn’t concentrate on it. I cornered my mom downstairs and told her I wanted to be saved.
Then my dad and I went into the bedroom and looked up some Bible verses, and he prayed, and I repeated the prayer after him. I remember him asking me afterwards if I felt any different and me shaking my head no. I think that’s true in a lot of cases; we don’t see the change right away, but at that crucial moment of passing from darkness to light, our journey begins.
After I prayed, my dad called his parents, and I raced downstairs and scribbled out my salvation story on a ripped sheet of paper with a green crayon. I still have that paper to this day.
That evening I was born again. But the journey had only just started.
I think there is a time in every Christian’s life where the seed of salvation lies dormant for a time before fruit blossoms. I don’t recall much spiritual growth between the ages of seven and ten. It was there, of course; it just wasn’t very evident yet. I learned to take notes in church and read my Bible, but I didn’t know God in a very personal way.
By the age of ten, I seriously doubted my salvation and came to the point where I didn’t think I had ever truly been saved. Almost every night I would wait for my family to fall asleep so I could slip out of bed and pray in the darkness for redemption (something about that idea seemed so…spiritual). Unfortunately, every night, I fell asleep before everyone else did.
Sometimes I prayed and thought I was finally saved, but that feeling of relief quickly vanished. I tried all sorts of ways to scare myself into salvation. My family didn’t know my dilemma because I never shared it with them.
Finally, one night while lying in bed, I couldn’t stand the pressure of doubt any longer. I slipped into my parents’ bedroom and we talked for a while. I discovered, to my surprise, that I had actually been saved all along.
Perhaps that test of faith jump-started more evident spiritual growth in my life. Around that time, my mom and I started studying the Bible together to begin our school mornings. First, we studied a series on the Pentateuch and tried several other studies after that. Then at the age of thirteen, I participated in the National Bible Bee, involving intense Bible memorization and inductive study. Every year since, I’ve competed in it, and that journey has taught me more than anything else about the faithfulness of God and the importance of His Word. Every person needs to study the Bible for themselves to grow in Christ, and Bible Bee has helped me develop that discipline.
Bible Bee also reinforced for me the importance of fellowship with other believers. It is truly a privilege to walk with other Christians in the journey toward heaven, and I’m grateful for each of the friends who has encouraged me along the way.
Perhaps you’ve been saved for ten years, perhaps you’ve been saved for ten months, but I want you to know that your story is worth celebrating, too. Every person’s journey is different. But every person’s journey is worth rejoicing over because they all declare the mercy and faithfulness of God.
I want to encourage you if you don’t know Jesus as your Savior to search the Bible to discover Him. As I grow, I realize more and more that knowing Him is truly my life. His faithfulness is what holds all my broken pieces together, and I want others to experience that grace too.
Someday in heaven, I can’t wait to see Jesus face-to-face. And I also can’t wait to swap stories with other believers of God’s redeeming work in our lives. His love truly has no limit!
2 Corinthians 5:17-18 ESV:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation[.]”