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 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 read it on a regular basis.
After my sophomore year in college, my husband and I married, moved into our first home together, and found a church that we joined. Though neither of us realized so at the time, our church membership and attendance appear to us now to have been driven more by social expectation than by dedication to serving Jesus Christ. We really did think that we were doing okay, though. We both believed in God, and we believed that we were good Christians. And we were, too. We were good (according to what the word good meant to us at that time), and we were Christians (at least technically, if such a thing is possible).
A good number of years later, I would question whether I “truly” had been a Christian for all of those years or whether I had been one in name only—a name that I had taken upon myself. My Christian walk, it seems, might be better categorized as a slow crawl. Metaphorically speaking, I had only stuck my big toe into the waters of my faith. I knew that I had a Savior, but I couldn’t have really talked much about Him. I knew of Jesus but I didn’t personally know Jesus. I had a long way to go in my faith walk, and I didn’t even know it. Neither did I know how amazing of an adventure that the learning would be.