I remember the day clearly. A group of us junior-highers were in the beautiful redwood forest of California, not too far from where we lived, for a weekend spring retreat at a Young Life camp. The year was 1975. The day: April 19.
Maybe my memory is not so clear, because I don’t remember the name of the man who spoke to us that weekend, and I don’t remember all of the fun activities we enjoyed, but I do remember this: God met me there that weekend.
I had been a church-goer all my life. I knew who Jesus was. I knew He had died on a cross and been raised from the dead. What I didn’t realize, though, is that He had done those things for me.
The speaker that weekend, at the end of one of his talks, challenged us to go out by ourselves around the camp and talk to God about what we had heard. I think it was the first time in my life that I truly, from my heart, talked to God. I finally realized that, good as I was, I was still a sinner.
That evening, sitting on a big rock out in the middle of God’s glorious creation, I finally surrendered my life to Jesus. I no longer wanted to be in control. I wanted to be made clean and accept that gift of salvation that He offered. I was reborn. And it was glorious.
Did I see fireworks and feel a dramatic difference that night? No, the process of transformation is life long. In fact, not entirely sure about what I had just done, over the course of the next several months, I doubted my sincerity and asked Jesus to come into my heart many more times. I have a feeling He just smiled at me and said, “Child, I’m already here.”
What a relief to not be in control. Though I must say I do try to wrest that control back every once in a while (OK, more like all the time). Love, joy, peace, patience; all of these are fruit of the Spirit now living within me. Where would I be today if not for His grace?
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