I received Jesus Christ as my Savior sometime during my junior high school years when I officially joined the Presbyterian Church. Because my family had not been active in participating in church events, including Sunday worship services in several years, I had missed being in the regular confirmation class with my friends of the same age. With my grandmother’s urging, though, my mother arranged for me to have private weekly sessions with the minister to prepare me for my decision to accept Christ. When the time came for me to stand before the congregation and to make my declaration of faith, I found that I was not alone. Several adults were also joining the church that Sunday.
I don’t remember many of the details about standing in the front of the sanctuary that day and making my declaration. But what I do vividly remember, though, is sitting in the pew immediately following the event with tears welling up in my eyes and running down my cheeks.
I was surprised and confused about why I was crying, and so apparently was the minister. He had walked partway down the center aisle toward the back of the sanctuary, while the new confirmands returned to our seats. As he then turned to go back up front, his gaze swept over the people in the pew where I was sitting. I can still clearly see the surprised look of questioning confusion that suddenly appeared on his face when he realized that I was sitting there crying.
I wish now that someone—anyone–had talked to me then about what was happening. But no one did, and I didn’t ask. As a young teenage girl, I was already uncomfortable that day in a sea of adults, and I didn’t want to stand out even more than I already did. Embarrassed, I didn’t know what to do, so I just sat there until the time came to go home, and then I left.
Perhaps if I had understood that receiving Christ is the beginning of a new life and not a stand-alone event, the next several decades of my life may have gone differently than they did. Fortunately, though, the only time limitation that we have in this world for developing a personal relationship with God is the one that is marked by our last breath. In my case, even though I had accepted Jesus as my Savior, it would be many years before I would really begin to get to know Him.
As things then went, I finished high school and college with on-again, off-again church attendance. My grandparents had presented me with a Bible as a high school graduation present, but it would be many years before I would actually use it on a regular basis.
After my husband and I married and moved into our first home together, we completed the task of finding and joining a church in our new town. Though I didn’t realize so at the time, our church membership and attendance seem now to have been driven more by social expectation than dedication to serving Jesus Christ. We really did think that we were doing okay. We both believed in God, and we believed that we were good Christians. We were. We were good (or, at least, we usually tried to be good, by our definition of what good means), and we were Christians (at least technically we were; if indeed such a thing is possible).
But if being a Christian could be described with a modifier such as good, I don’t think that it would have applied to us. Our Christian walk, at best, was more of a slow crawl. I was a confirmed, baptized Christian, but metaphorically speaking, I had only stuck my big toe into the waters of my faith. I was saved, but I didn’t know my Savior. I knew of Him, in general; but I didn’t personally know Him. I had a long way to go in my faith walk, and I didn’t even know it.