I was in my early twenties.
I would hear about those Bible thumpers that went to church every Sunday and it somewhat intrigued me but I also knew I was not one of them.
First of all, I was not going to give up my cigarettes.
Secondly, I was not going to stop cussing.
And thirdly, when I would visit my dad’s Baptist church, it scared me.
Dad would always lean over and say to me: “If you want to go the altar, I’ll go with you.” (He had this obsession with the altar like it was the only place you could meet Jesus.)
I would shake my head no and pray that the preacher man was not standing at the door shaking hands after the service. And if he was, please God, let me him not see me.
God never answered my prayer.
Preacher man was always standing there with his smile and outstretched hand, and I would shake it, hoping to God he couldn’t read my mind, knowing the last sins I just committed.
I remember walking outside the doors feeling free, like I could breathe again. That conviction stuff and dealing with your sin was heavy.
I liked my relationship with God just the way it was.
I liked Him, He liked me. We’d hang out once in a while, chat here and there, I’d ask for forgiveness on Easter and Christmas. Everything seemed to be working out just fine.
Until everything was not fine.
September eleventh happened. I was a young mother, married only a couple of years, struggling with depression, anxiety, and was having frequent panic attacks. I was scared of the world, scared of dying, and everything else in between.
So, I started to wonder about this Christianity thing.
I was needing some peace and comfort, and it didn’t seem the world was going to be giving it to me any time soon. I began to read the Bible, and it was like Jesus had been reading my diary.
Those words written in red seemed to be written just for me:
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17) (yup, I was pretty sick).
“For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:2)(yup, wore my judgy pants daily)
“You must love the Lord thy God with all your soul, strength and mind.” (Mark 12:30)
Woah. Hold the phone. This was asking for a big commitment. Like more than just a casual, dating type relationship here. This was going to require something of me.
Then I read where Jesus talked about considering the cost of following Him.
I realized He wasn’t just asking for a casual relationship. He was asking for my whole life. My everything.
I wasn’t so sure I wanted that. I really wanted this thing to be about him healing me, loving me, and giving me peace, but giving everything to Him? That seemed hard.
As I pondered if I was cut out for this whole Christian thing, I continued to read His word and something in me was changing.
I was seeing myself clearly, my flaws and fears, my weaknesses and strengths, and I was also realizing my desperate need for a Savior rather than a God on a whim.
I began to care less about what I would have to give and instead was blown away by what He had extravagantly given to me:
Unconditional love, unfathomable grace and mercy.
His blood poured out on a cross. His. very. life.
And all I had to do was open my hands and believe and receive.
For years I had thought that becoming a Christian was just about what you had to give up, stop doing, and were going to miss out on.
When in reality it was the exact opposite.
Christ tells us in His word He came to bring us life and more abundantly.
He came to bring us joy, peace, freedom, and hope. He came to restore our hearts, our lives, and redeem anything that has been lost or stolen from us.
He came to make all things new.
And I had been worried about holding onto nicotine and f bombs? But, really it was much deeper than that.
I was worried I’d have to give up the very things which brought me comfort and Jesus would not be enough.
(Let’s fast forward sixteen years.)
First off, I discovered Jesus wasn’t asking me to give Him my cigarettes and a clean mouth. He was asking me for my whole heart and not just parts of it.
Has it been easy? Absolutely not.
It’s been beyond hard, heck grueling at times, dying hurts.
But I can also tell you it has been the greatest adventure and love affair of my life. And not only has Christ been more than enough, He has kept every promise about bringing me a new life and a changed heart.
He has healed me, redeemed me, and replaced ten fold what the enemy took from me. And I have never once regretted making Him the Lord of my life.
Worth it? Absolutely.
If you are just casually courting Christ can I challenge you to ask yourself why? What are you afraid of? Are you afraid He will disappoint you like others have?
I get it.
But, I can promise you the Apostle Paul nailed it when he said:
Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Philippians 3:8)
If you have been casual about your relationship with the Lover of Your Soul and you are longing for more of Him, today can be the day of salvation and renewal.
And here’s the sobering reality of all of this, Jesus Christ is coming back one day for His Church.
His word clearly tells us He is coming for His bride, not a casual fling.
The question we each must answer is which one will we be?