I wasn't raised in a church that told me of the need to be born again. That is sad. Because for all my life I believed that there was a God and I genuinely wanted to please Him, but just never felt that I knew exactly how to do that.
Thank God we had born again neighbors that went to a church that had a Vacation Bible School every summer. It was there that I heard about heaven and hell (yes, they preached hell!) and the Blood and forgiveness and the Love of God for me expressed through Jesus Christ. So, as a child, I embraced this truth, but didn't grow in it because I went back to my old church they didn't have the knowledge to tell me what to do with it. Through the years I read my Bible, sporadically at best, but tried to do what I read. I even posted the Golden Rule in my locker at school during a time when people were picking on me relentlessly.
While away at college, I came to what I call a "crisis of faith". Life was okay, grades were good, but I was in a desperate state. I knew that I needed God and I needed Him NOW!
There was a Baptist Student Union building on my campus. Our born again neighbors had been Baptist, so one day I went into that building and sat on a couch in one of the main corridors of the building. I sat there nearly all day, missing classes. I had decided that the first person that stopped to meet me (obviously someone would notice that I was new to the building), was going to be confronted with the question that was burning in my soul--"What must I do to be saved?" For hours I sat as people went in and out of prayer meetings and Bible studies. I tried to make eye contact with every one. Pastors came and went, never even giving me a glance. At the end of the day I went back to my dorm confused and feeling rejected by the Baptists and by God.
The next day, I felt a little better so I went back to my normal routine. I graduated and married a boy I had met in a bar. Within a couple of months my marriage was in terrible trouble. I was working in an administrative position in a large facility. Our boss, whom we later learned was mentally ill, made our lives miserable. I felt like such a failure. My marriage and my career were in the tank. I soon began to suffer from extreme and constant nauseousness, outbursts of emotion where I would totally lose control of myself, and was tired and unmotivated to do anything which caused my job and marriage to suffer even more. The doctor had told me that I was close to a nervous breakdown. My life was just one BIG mess.
Two years after my day at the Baptist Student Union, I found myself sitting on a couch again, but this time with a bottle of Valium poured out in my hand and a glass of water to wash them all down at once. As I put the pills up to mouth a picture of that sanctuary of that little Baptist church flashed in front of my eyes. The feeling of the presence of God that I had experienced as a child came all over me and something told me that whatever I had to handle I could handle because God would help me. Almost without realizing what I was doing, I got up from the couch, walked to the bathroom and flushed all the pills down the toilet.
From that day forward, my Bible became my Valium. When at work, the nausea would start, I would go to my office and open my Bible. At lunchtime, instead of eating food, I ingested the Word. I started at Genesis 1:1. What I read really didn't mean much to me, but I knew that it was God speaking and I was desperate to hear what He had to say!
A few months later we moved a couple hours north. My husband and I were saving to get a divorce. Upon my urging, he agreed to attend a few churches with me. He had once been a Christian as a child, had grown up in a wonderful church atmosphere that had been regularly charged with the power of God, so I figured that he would know a good one when we came upon it. Of course, what I didn't realize was that he was under tremendous conviction and an alive church was the last thing he wanted to be in. We attended several churches, all of which he found something wrong with. (Naturally!) He was running from what I was running too, only I didn't understand how all that worked, never having any spiritual training beyond Bible stories and the golden rule.
One Sunday morning, our milking system went down, so my husband couldn't possibly attend church, but I went to the church that we had attended the week before by myself and I got gloriously, wonderfully, miraculously saved! At last, my question, "What must I do to be saved?" had been answered!
I look back on this and wonder:
What if someone had stopped to talk to me that day in the Baptist Student Union? How would my life have been altered? Would I have married my husband or would I have pursued graduate school? Would I have moved back home or gone out into the world seeking better opportunities. Would I be Baptist? LOL!
But even more it makes me wonder how many people who are searching like I was have I walked by without even taking the time to make eye contact? Am I so busy with my "spiritual life" that I walk right by others, who like myself, look totally happy and adjusted on the outside, but who are hurting and desperate on the inside? Am I running from prayer meeting to Bible study to Sunday sermon right by those who are sitting along the corridors of my life without even noticing that they have been placed in my path? Do I intentionally listen to people when they talk to me to see if there is a "What must I do to be saved?" coming through in their conversation? Am I, like Jesus invading the places that they live or am I just rushing past their lives on the way to somewhere better?
God, help me to slow down and take notice of the people that You have placed in my path each day. It just might save a life.