A Thirty Day Devotional adapted from the NEW book: Identity: The Distinctiveness of You – Day 23
I am chosen by Him. I Thessalonians 1:4
I am rescued from the power of darkness. Colossians 1:13
I am now God’s child. I John 3:2
When we’re struggling to know who we are and why we exist, a sin-filled lifestyle will not take us in the right direction. Yet, self-destructive ways seem to come to us so easily, so naturally. How do we ever think that partying, stunting our personal emotional growth through alcohol or drug use, hurting loving relationships around us help in any form or fashion? What makes us think there is anything “normal” about this style of living on the edge or living so dangerously? In fact, what it does do is reinforce how worthless we are, how valueless we are and how unhealthy we are. It accentuates the negative self-hatred that we’re continually dealing with and it can become permanently destructive.
Insecurity and the lack of any identity plagued me. I never knew who I was, how I fit, why I existed or if I even wanted to or should exist. For the two summers before graduation from high school, I was hanging out at the beach. It was there that I heard the gospel for the very first time. A young, blond haired girl that I was particularly attracted to went on a date with me and began to talk to me about Jesus. Granted, once in a while I attended my local mainline denominational church in my home community, but I never heard the things that this young girl was about to tell me.
She told me I needed a personal relationship with Jesus. She told me He was coming back again. She told me He literally died on a cross for my salvation. She told me He would change my life if I accepted Him. All of which I did not argue against because I wanted a relationship with her. I would tell her, rather manipulatively, that I agreed on all points and that I was cool with God, honestly hoping, all the while, that He was cool with me.
But it was the words of this girl, her passion, her excitement about a living relationship that attracted me to Him within her. I don’t really know why, but from somewhere deep in my soul or my spirit, I was hungry for this truth. I was hungry for the real and I desperately wanted God to be real.
It was December of 1971 and I was receiving one last letter from the blond girl which included a gospel tract about “being saved.” Oh, how I wanted to be saved, whatever that really meant. How I wanted to escape the reality of my home and family. How I longed to fill the huge void in my life. I didn’t know how it would be possible. I simply was not raised with faith outside of my grandmother’s words and prayers.
I would read the tract, then throw it down and say to myself, “Oh, I wish” or “Yeah, right…too good to be true.” Nights later I would pick it up and read it again. Finally, one night, around midnight, I, with little to no faith, but with huge desire, got down on my knees beside my bed and I prayed, Jesus, I am not sure if any of this is true. I am not sure of your love, but please forgive me of my sin, my hatred for my father, my bitterness, my anger at You and whatever else I need to let go of to receive You into my heart. Please change me!
To hate is easy. To disregard and abandon is natural, but to love, to forgive, to have hope for a lost soul is supernatural. As a youth, tormented by my father’s out-of-control rage, I wanted him to die or leave our family never to be seen again. Post conversion, I would only long for his redemption. My heart was being healed and that resulted in an in-depth healing of who I was and who I was to become. Unforgiveness is certainly a road we can take, but it comes with a heavy emotional, physical and spiritual price.
Question for reflection:
What is your salvation story?
Click here for your own personal copy or share one with a friend.