As I reflect on my life, there have been three significant shifts in my experience and understanding of God. I use the word, “conversion” not only to grab your attention, but also to express the radicalness of the change that these conversions represent. I want to summarize my journey for you in the hope that it will spur you to think about your own faith journey. I pray we end up in the same place!
1. God, my Saviour
I first heard the gospel clearly, with it’s demand that I make a response to Jesus, when a high-school friend shared it with me. Many people come to faith in Jesus as a result of crisis – sickness, immanent danger, financial woes, etc. They see God show up, resolve the issue supernaturally and they acknowledge his reality. Not so with me. I grew up in a pretty safe, reasonably healthy household. I came to faith in Jesus because the message of Jesus as Saviour of the world had that ring of truth to it. No one needed to convince me that I was bad! Even at the tender age of fourteen I was in touch with how rebellious I was in my heart. The message of Christ being the one who saves me from myself made sense to me. “Everyone needs forgiveness, the kindness of a Saviour”. It didn’t take too long for me to say “Yes” to Jesus. This was my first conversion – being translated from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son. Jesus had become my Saviour. Hallelujah!
2. God, my Lord
Fast forward ten years. I had come across a bunch of people my age who had made some radical decisions as they followed God and I wanted to be radical too – it seemed like the in-thing to do. So, I joined this mission agency, Operation Mobilisation, as an apprentice for a year. I lived on a tiny ocean going vessel with about 150 other Christians from 30 nations. I was out of my depth and my comfort zone on so many levels. (During one voyage I threw up 22 times in a 24-hour period.) It was also a most profoundly formative experience. I grew in my understanding of what it means to live radically as a Christian in this world and I got to discover some of God’s gifts and calling in my life.
The last night onboard that ship before we returned home, there was a special farewell gathering for all of us leaving. After a stirring message, one of the leaders made an altar call for those who wanted to pursue radical discipleship even after we returned home. The “altar” was packed with young hearts passionate to serve God and to make a difference in the world for him. I was probably the last person who went forward, on my hands and knees as it were, because I was counting the cost. What about my career? What would my family and friends at home think? Will I end up living below the poverty line?
It was during that battle within my heart and mind that I decided to unreservedly surrender every aspect of my life to Jesus – that he was worthy of my full, unfettered allegiance. This was my second conversion – when I asked Jesus to be the Lord of my life, not just my Saviour who had made the way for me to live eternally in the presence of God. He was now the Captain of my life, not my co-pilot.
Lord, you call us to abide in you, and you will abide in us. Lord, help us to be so full of trust in you that it becomes second nature to be led by your Spirit in every aspect of our lives, even the tricky parts, like money and relationships. You are indeed worthy of our trust and our obedience. We love you, Lord!
(Part 2, in next week’s blog, I’ll speak about my third conversion. It’s about a deeper understanding of the nature of God, and how I relate to him at a heart-level because of that new understanding. Tune in!)