I remember a Sunday morning when I was maybe four years old… I went to church and heard a sermon about hell. I was absolutely terrified. After church I was filled with fear… and liquids! I really needed to go potty. :) I remember that the women’s bathroom was locked for some reason and I could not wait… so I had to use the men’s. While I sat on the toilet in the men’s bathroom I prayed for Jesus to save me from my sins. I had a basic grasp of the facts of sin and the need for salvation but I really didn’t know what I was doing and I just knew I was supposed to pray for forgiveness if I didn’t want to spend eternity in hell. I never told anyone about my prayer that day because I was insanely shy and kept most everything inside.
The years went on and I understood more and more… I realized that the Sunday I prayed in the men’s bathroom I had not actually made a decision… but simply had a fear reaction. I knew I had to figure things out and make a choice, but as my understanding grew so did my confusion. There were a lot of issues that played into that confusion. One of them was my pride issue. Ugh. Stinkin pride. My friends always just assumed I knew Jesus from birth or something because of who my family was… and I let them believe it. I remember one Sunday morning having a discussion when everyone talked about the day they were baptized. They said, “did you get a bible for your baptism Shanda?” and rather than telling them I had not been baptized and that I didn’t have a true relationship with the Lord, I simply said, “no.” I was actually really quite embarrassed about the whole situation: my unbelief/confusion, my refusal to humble myself in obedience, etc.
Then when I was 11, my dad’s ministry at one church ended and we went to my grandparent’s church for a while. That church was probably the most consistent place in my childhood. My mom grew up there… we went there to visit multiple times a year… and whenever my dad was not on staff at a church, that’s where we went. So I had lots of friends, including Jessica, who I had known since we were 2 and our mom’s started hanging out. So, at age 11 we again became the inseparable pair.
One Sunday morning I sat by Jessica in church. It was a Lord’s Supper day. In the past, I’d always avoided sitting near friends on such days because I didn’t want them to see that I didn’t participate but for some reason I felt safer now. After church that day, Jessica told me that she had noticed I didn’t take the Lord’s Supper and asked if I had ever made the decision to follow Jesus/become a Christian. For the first time in my life, I felt permission to not be perfect in front of a friend. I told her I hadn’t made that decision. Her response was not one of judgement but one of care and love. She told me she would pray for me because it was a big decision, and one that would change my life.
I can not even describe the weight that was lifted off of my shoulders that day. No more pretending! It wasn’t an overnight decision… but that began a process that would lead me into a life of following Jesus.
The words she said were so simple… but the impact they had was so profound. Because of Jessica, I felt free to admit my imperfections and to recognize my NEED for a Savior.
Moral of the story… Show people you care. It might change their world!