<>< <>< <>< <>< <>< WHY JESUS? <>< <>< <>< <>< <><

In 10 simple steps through my life, I explain how and why I came to give my life to Christ. 

1) When I was small and just a boy, I dreamed that God would know how to save me from myself. That God already had the plan and that it was up to me to “find” it. I somehow knew that God loved me so much that God would take care of me somehow. I guess my mom had first taught me that by her words and deeds.   

2) As I grew, I began to come to know God through my experience in the world. Words of unconditional love from folks around me. The sites of beauty and wonder all around me. The inner joy that fills one’s soul that seems to have no direct cause except from above. Clearly, God was alive and present in this world.

3) And then the time came to “grow up,” and, like most, I decided, not intentionally, but by my other decisions, to defer my relationship with God until some later, more convenient, date. It was good to know God was really there, but as for right now, I’ll take control. Then, I will let you know if I need you, God! 

4) Eventually, the time of true desperation came. Not just some little inconvenience or great regret. I was desperate! Which means, I finally came to terms with the truth — that I was not capable of “saving” myself. Rather, I needed God’s help. Indeed, God was the only one who could help me. Hey … remember that dream I had when I was little about God already having a plan to save me from myself?

5) In my most desperate time, I bargained with God. I took a chance that maybe all this was real. That God did have a plan to save me, and that plan was already being implemented and just waiting for me to accept it. Since my faith was new and infantile, I really didn’t know how it worked. Grace? Forgiveness? Mercy? I really didn’t know about those things. I believed I had to prove to God that I was willing to make a sacrifice for God’s love. So … I offered God my life! (That’s desperate!) God didn’t need to bargain with me – but I guess I needed to bargain with God. So, I gave God my life, or at least what was left of it. And Jesus moved in to my heart. And my conversion began. 

6) That’s when I began to know the real Jesus. Not the made-up religious Jesus who loves us so much that He doesn’t want us to change. That’s not the real Jesus. Jesus wants us to change every day, to stay in harmony with God’s daily revelation in the world. Unlike most people, I was glad Jesus called me to change. I needed change. I was glad Jesus could transform me. I needed transforming. I fell in love with this Jesus who embraced this physically diminished and socially and financially bankrupt loser who was looking for a way to stop digging! It was then that I knew Jesus was “saving” me from myself and creating something new. 

7) It was all Jesus’s idea for me to go to seminary. He set the whole thing up. I thought I was going to register for a Ph.D. program in Political Science at the University of Kentucky, and God took my feet, and led me across the commons, then across the street, to the Lexington Seminary (a building I had never been in before) and by the end of the day, I was filling out my application and trying to figure out how to tell my wife! Oh my God … I was going to “God School!”

8) It was in seminary, more than church or anywhere else, that I came to know Jesus as my friend first, then as my Lord and savior. That’s when I could tell Jesus could do for me what I couldn’t do for myself. Not just the addiction recovery. But simple things like doing homework or reading 250 pages in a night, or writing a 10-page essay on the Book of Philemon at 4am for a class at 9am! No way I could that. Alone. But I wasn’t alone anymore. Seminary was also where I learned to pray and meditate. I was becoming a spiritual person living an earthly life. The answer had been found!  

9) It didn’t take long for me to realize that of all the religions in the world, all the churches and denominations, all the spiritual options and gurus, Jesus was all I needed. It was that simple. I needed a savior! Not a judge! He showed me what He could do if I was willing to turn everything over to Him. And that was the hard part! Turning it all over to Jesus. Have you ever tried that? I found that until you give EVERYTHING to God, you never really reap the full benefits of what God has to offer. For me, that was, and is, the hard part. To know what to do was easy. To actually be willing to do it, and then do it, was the hardest thing in the world for me. Still is. 

10) Where are you on the path to turning it all over to God? How has God been working in your life lately? Where do you see God on a regular basis? What is the deepest longing of your heart today? What is your greatest fear? Your greatest desire? These are the kind of questions Jesus and I talk about all the time. And we also talk about you. And our church. And what Jesus is trying to do here. With me. With us. With you. And, in all that I do, I try to heed His word and do His will. And because of that effort, I am alive today, I am here with you, and I am living and loving this new life in Christ. 

How about you?

In His name, as his mangy dirty sheepdog, I am …

Pastor Bob <><