Friday, April 22, 2011

My Best Good Friday.

The ladies hurried in and started removing items one by one. The lights were dim in the room that brought a quiet solitude. Everyone was reverently sitting and watching. One by one the candles disappeared, the flowers were next, then the cross that was centered on the veiled stone altar. In only a few minutes, nothing was left but the stark reality of masonry. As the decorations were being stripped from their normal resting place, it was in that moment I realized I needed Jesus.

I grew up in a Christian home. In fact, my parents were Christians and did their best to raise me in the church. Every time the church doors were open, we were there. Not on the front row but our family definitely had a pew that was ours. I grew up knowing the stories and the wonders of Jesus and that he died for the sins of the world. I knew that. I had been to Sunday School and had heard many sermons on that subject. Yes, I was a Christian. So I thought. Once married I went with my husband to church membership classes. I knew our church religious practices very well.

After we had kids, I also knew the importance of training them up in the way they should go. It was important to me to have a Christian home, just like I was raised in. Little did I know, though, that I was running in the opposite direction, away from God. It looked like I had it all together and knew all the right answers, but that was not the case. In reality, I didn't have a personal relationship with Christ. I only knew of Him. I had studied Him and acknowledged His existence, but there was a huge chasm of difference between my head and my heart.

I was into some bad habits and behaviors, but I was basically a good person and thought I was going to heaven. I didn't think I needed to change. Just like any other young married mother with a couple of kids, I was trying to make the best of my life. So every time the church doors were open, I was taking my family too.

That was the way it was...until Good Friday 1998. As I sat still in that dimly lit pew, I watched as the front of the church became barren and cold. I felt God chip away at my hardened heart, as it if were a block of ice readied for an masterpiece. I felt all alone. In that quiet God-whispering moment I heard, "I died for you. That's how much I love you. And if you were the only one on the entire planet I would still send my Son." It was if my eyes were opened as they filled with tears. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I needed to change. I was convicted of my sin. I confessed and repented of my wrongs, bad habits and behaviors. As I was praying, I accepted Jesus' love and forgiveness in my heart. After that, I was different.

My experience was a hinge moment in my walk faith. I came away from that service different and filled with love and joy. I had made the decision to let Jesus be my Lord and Savior. Now if I die before I wake, I know that I will be at the feet of Jesus. I am that sure. Upon making that pivotal decision, things changed for me. I turned away and I removed all things that were getting in the way of me living a life of faith. Those bad habits stopped. I filled my mind and heart with the things of God. I now live to please God instead of myself desires.

That was 22 years ago and I can remember it was like yesterday. I thought I was a Christian, but I really wasn't. I was only riding on the shirt tales of my parent's faith. Find out for yourself what you believe and why. Right now, ask yourself, if you died tonight, do you know without a shadow of a doubt....that you would see Jesus? If not, stop reading right now, and ask Jesus into your heart. It's that important. Ephesians 2:8 - 9 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; not by works, so that no one can boast."

Admit you need forgiveness.
Confess the things you know are wrong.
Believe Jesus died on the cross for your sins.

God's grace is a gift. You can't earn it nor can you get it by osmosis. Even if you have been in church all your life, and think you are a good person, you have to actively accept Christ's death on the cross as payment for your sins. Your guilt has been taken care of...because of His Love for you. Yes you ....as if you were the only one on the face of the planet. This is grace, this is love, this is forgiveness, Jesus is the only way to God. He is the Way, the Truth, the Life. No one gets to the Father except through Jesus.

This is my Good Friday story. Accept and experience the love and forgiveness that God has for you.
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