Why I Chose Jesus
It was around the time of my great-grandparents passing away. I was exposed to death at a very early age, which today I am grateful for. I had an unusual awareness of at a young age. I knew that my great-grandfather was in heaven when he died. I was two.
Then at the age of four, I knew that I wanted a life with Jesus. I knew that meant that someday when I died that I would go to heaven and be with Him. Some people wonder if it’s possible to know if a child that young can understand what a life with Jesus means. But I believe it, because I certainly did.
I shared about Jesus to the girls I went to school with. I wanted them to love Jesus too. I started serving Him in my church with special music. I remember being four or five, sitting at the front of the church while my aunt played the piano. I sang the song, “Jesus Loves Me” to everyone. I served in vocal ministry in that church from the time I was saved until we changed churches as a teenager. I wanted to serve Jesus with the gifts He had given me.
I had watched some baptisms at church and knew that I wanted to do that too. I was seven at the time. The pastors were concerned that I didn’t understand what that meant. So, one of the pastors met with me a few times and we discussed what getting baptized meant.
I knew that it was a public declaration that I had a relationship with Jesus. It was an visual imagery to everyone that I had died to myself and become alive in Jesus. I was letting go of my own life and choosing the life He had for me. I was declaring that I believed Jesus was real, lived on earth, died and resurrected Himself, and that He was, is, and always will be the only God. So, in July of 1994, both my brother and I were baptized.
Testing and trials are not void from little disciples. My Papa, my best friend and confidant, passed away a month after my baptism. I was devastated. I was struggling with friends and insecurity. My Papa made me feel safe and beautiful. I felt at peace and could be myself with him. I was able to share all my secrets with him. Then he was gone.
His loss taught me at that young age the importance of following Jesus. Though I missed him terribly, I was able to realize after confirming with my mom, that Papa was in heaven, and I was going to see him someday. I could trust the Lord with that.
As I went through my struggles as a teenager, I clung to Jesus with all that I had. Through my darkest times, even though I couldn’t feel Him most moments, I knew He was there. I had to trust in that. I would declare Scripture after Scripture.
I believed in Jesus and that the Bible as truth. But there seems to be a point in people’s lives who’ve accepted Jesus at a young age, where they move away from home and their faith is under review. This was also true for me. It’s not that I stopped believing or things really changed. But, away from my parents’ teaching, I had to decide how dedicated I wanted to be to Him. Do I keep Him as a good guide in life to follow? Or, do I dive in and follow Him with everything I am, regardless of the sacrifices that might mean?
I had spent a year at Bible college. Just because someone attends a school like this, doesn’t mean they have all the answers or have it all together. I went through some really tough years while I was there. I questioned a lot of teaching and things I had grown up learning. I knew Jesus, and I knew parts of the Bible well, but I needed to come to the point where He was my everything. That switch where I was ready to begin “dying to self” and allowing Him to take the reigns on my life. I was noticing that my plans weren’t working out so well. So, I needed to explore what His were.
There was a speaker at the college one night. He had a question for us. He asked if anyone was ready to surrender it all and become a servant of Jesus Christ. This wasn’t a call to start a relationship with Jesus. I had already done that. This was a call to lay everything else down that was above Him and be willing to fully commit my life to a ministry for Him. That was the day I changed my list of plans and gave them all to Jesus. I chose to serve Him in a life of ministry, whatever that may look like.
It’s taken years to break away from my own desires. In fact, it’s something I’ll spend my lifetime doing, because human nature likes to take things back on ourselves. But it is worth taking a lifetime to pursue.
I’m still learning to surrender each day to Him. I’m learning to seek His will and not my own. It often looks messy and weird. His requests often seem outlandish to me. Yet, the greatest peace and life comes from the moments I say yes to those bizarre requests.
So, why did I choose Jesus? Why did I commit to this crazy life that isn’t really my own?
Well, it started with death. I saw that everyone will die at some point. From what I learned, I had two choices: heaven or hell. I thought heaven sounded way nicer. When I got older, I researched what the other world religions’ options shared. From my studies, I still found the most peace and clarity around Jesus’ story of what after-human life looks like. It made the most sense to me.
Learning about life and death, and witnessing it with my great-grandparents and Papa, I heard about what Jesus did. How He actually lived as a human, suffered crazy torture and ridicule, and then died. He was sinless. He was perfect. Why would a perfect God ever put Himself through that?? But He was the only One that raised Himself from the dead. Sure, other people have come back to life, but not on their own. Jesus, through His Holy Spirit, came back to life and walked around the earth for another 40 days to prove it before returning to heaven. He didn’t have to, but He did so that many people could record the story in history. So that people can still choose to believe today.
As I got older and questioned why I believed what I did, I couldn’t help but see the evidence of God’s hand on my life. I saw and felt suffering, but I saw life and hope just as much. I saw people die, but I saw people get healed through the power of prayer.
One story to explain this. When my brother and I were at the Bible college, my dad called us to say that a boy my brother grew up with had stage four terminal brain cancer. The doctor said that he most likely would not live long. Our whole school, along with many others prayed earnestly for him. A few months later, we received another call from my dad. The boy had seen the doctor. The doctor had said that the boy must have had people praying for him because he was witnessing a miracle. The boy’s tumor was gone! He didn’t have cancer. I had heard stories of this and seen the power of prayer at work, but never this closely.
I had watched the Lord change horrible circumstances. A friend of mine’s parents were headed for divorce at the same time mine were. I prayed for her family, but to be honest, I doubted her parents would get back together. Mine didn’t so others wouldn’t either right?
Her father had moved out, was living with a woman my friend’s age, and no longer followed Jesus. Previous to that, her parents were looking to become missionaries. My friend, her mom, and brother, fasted and prayed for her dad A LOT that year. They never lost faith that he would come home. Time and again, her mom would go to court and deny the approval of the divorce. I couldn’t believe how much they believed. Then, by the second year, right around the last chance with the courts to accept or deny the divorce, he came home. Her parents are stronger today and more in love than they’ve ever been. Her family was a testimony to me that God hears prayers and does work in mighty and miraculous ways.
In two hopeless situations, God brought hope and restoration. He has changed my life and my character. He’s created exciting adventures and carried me through the toughest times in my life. The Bible says that it is “alive and active” (Hebrews 4:12). It is true. The longer I read it, the more I believe and it transforms my life. I’ve tried a lot of what the world has to offer. I thought it would feel good and be more interesting, but it’s all failed me. Yet, by God’s good grace, He’s forgiven me and allowed me to continue to grow in Him. Now I feel like I have more life and purpose than ever before, and I trust that will only continue.
If you don’t know Jesus or you’re questioning things about Him that you aren’t sure about, I’d love to talk to you. I don’t have all the answers, but I can share what I know, or find others that might. I am so glad I didn’t wait to follow Him. There’s so much He wants for us in this life, rather than waiting to the end for just in case purposes. Because, to be honest, none of us know when our earthly end will be.
Love and prayers for you all