Sunday, January 29, 2012

Birthday Memories

This weekend I will celebrate my 32nd birthday. Each year, on the week of my birthday, I think about my life and all the major points that I can recall. I have done this deep reminiscing each year---during the week of my birthday---since the year I turned eleven years old.  The year I turned eleven years old was special. On Easter Sunday of my tenth year, I came to faith in Christ Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Although I had a family who all believed in Jesus, I had not yet (until that Easter Sunday) fully surrendered my heart and mind to making Christ King of my life.  God was always an important part of my little life of ten years, but I clearly remember not wanting God to be "in charge or in control" of my destiny.

As a nine year old, I remember many nights, kneeling beside my bed (like my parents had encouraged me to do, so as to pray to God and thank Him for the day and for His blessings) and I would recite a basic prayer to the God that my family knew personally.  I didn't really know what to feel. I felt a struggle in my heart. Many nights, I would recite the basic prayer (with real gratitude in my heart---grateful that there was someone always there to watch over me and my family) and then, after a bit of a pause, I would speak....quite God; the One God my parents believed (and still do) to be the Heavenly Father who sent His only begotten Son Jesus to earth to die in my place and save me from my sins.  I would say something like, "God, I know the Bible says believing in Jesus, your Son, is the only way to go to heaven when we die. But I don't want to surrender tonight. I want to be in control. And I think if I believe in Jesus as my Savior, I'll never get to do anything fun and all of my dreams and desires I have for when I grow up will have to be thrown out if I surrender my life to your Son. I don't want to give up control. So, Jesus may be the only way to heaven, but I'm not going to believe in him tonight."

After such prayer, I would usually lie awake in my bed for a couple of hours so concerned if I was wrong and fell asleep and if I died in my sleep that I would not see heaven or God for an eternity. I was so conflicted. I didn't want an invisible God to be in control of me. But I didn't want to spend eternity in total separation from Him. I believed God existed, but I didn't like that there was only one way to get to Him.  I was (still am) so stubborn.

As a little girl who still didn't believe in Jesus as Lord, I desired to be a girl who did good things and treat people with kindness. However my desire to do good didn't necessarily help me achieve the doing of good things. Being good on a continual basis isn't possible without a supernatural power helping us simply because we are selfish beings.  Well, God is so awesome that He doesn't leave us in our selfish state. Since I acknowledged Him as God and spoke to Him about my lack of desire to believe in Christ, it still kept the lines of communication between us open. God was still working on my heart.....and I was letting Him, whether I knew it or not.

So, on my birthday each year since I turned eleven years, I reflect on the change that was made in me.  I went from caterpillar to butterfly. God saved me that Easter Sunday night in Midwest City, Oklahoma in 1990 when I confessed God's sovereignty over everything; when I believed in His Son Jesus Christ the King of my life--- of my heart.

On my eleventh birthday, I was so grateful to have Jesus Christ in me, God with me, to save me from my sinful ways and help me when I turn from Him distracted by this world and my selfishness. My birthday has been so precious ever since. I am a new creation! My birth on this earth was just the first birth. God's Son Jesus gave me the only way to be born again. My spirit is made new because of Christ. Although I still struggle with things, attitudes and thoughts that were not honoring to God, I am aware that God was and still is the One I could and still can go to with all of my hang-ups and questions. There in God's presence I can be made clean again.  (Matthew 8:1-4)  Now I live life differently because I know that God knew my past, my struggles, my mistakes and still loved me SO much to send His Son Jesus to earth to save me.

Happy Bithday to me!  Jesus Christ is the best gift anyone can ever get.  He is free for the taking.  If you haven't received the gift of salvation yet.  Today is that day.  Open the gift. Cherish it.

"Oh, how I love Jesus.  Oh, how I love Jesus.  Oh, how I love Jesus, because He first loved me."