I don’t know when exactly I was born again. Some people can tick off the exact day, which I think is pretty neat. For me, I’m fairly sure I know the year but that’s about it.
I believe that I was about four years old when my father came up to my bedroom to tell me a story before I fell asleep. His stories were often from the period of the kings or from the gospels, and this night it was gospels, some story about Jesus and his disciples. I couldn’t tell you for the life of me what the story was, but I remember vividly it producing in me a mixed sense of longing and shame. Shame that I was so unlike Jesus, the kind and gentle healer, and longing to be with him. I prayed a prayer, something token I had probably learned from an older sibling or perhaps in children’s church, and immediately felt a wonder and happiness and peace which was so alien then but which I have come to recognize through the years as good ol’ Christian joy. I’ve doubted the legitimacy of that experience since then at one time or another, but by and large I am confident that my life in Christ began that night.
But my testimony, as much as I love it, is not my point right now. I was sitting here tonight and thinking that if my recollection of the time when I was saved is correct, then it has been twenty years since my conversion. Twenty years of sin and holiness and victory and defeat and sadness and joy and confidence and despair, and I’m still a young man yet. Tonight I tried to remember if in twenty years I’ve ever sought the Lord, really sought him, and been disappointed. I can’t think of a single time. To be sure, there have been plenty of times when the Lord has withdrawn for a season, which always feels like the three hours of darkness at Golgotha; but at the end of those seasons I’ve always been assured that the Lord had never abandoned me, even if I don’t and can’t understand why he hides his face.
I know I’m young and haven’t been through nearly a tenth of the storms that some people face in their lives, and perhaps that’s reason to doubt my confidence in God’s steadfastness in the past. Perhaps someday there will be a storm that’s just too big, and when I look for him he just won’t be there. But I’ve read my Psalms, and I’ve seen the Psalmist extrapolate time and time again. He praises God for his help in the past and looks with rock-solid assurance toward the trials of the future, knowing that the God who delivered Israel yesterday will not fail tomorrow.
So I’ve got a good fifty years left, probably. And it’s likely the storms which lie on the horizon will dwarf my past and present trials by comparison. But I remember throwing myself on Jesus twenty years ago, how he took away my shame and gave me peace, and I am sure that he who held me then and holds me now will never let me go.
“My soul waits for the Lord
more than the watchmen for the morning,
more than the watchmen for the morning.”