"There is no doubt in my mind, Lord, that I love you. I feel it with certainty. You struck my heart with Your Word and I loved you." (St. Augustine, Confessions)
Many preachers and teachers of God’s Word mourn the peril of being a 'pastor’s kid.' Personally, I can understand their concern. While there are innumerable blessings and benefits of being a pastor’s child, there is a danger as well, a danger that I faced growing up and that peaked when I was eleven years old.
We grew up hearing about the things of God, reading Bible stories and having family devotions, watching Veggie Tales and singing God’s praise, drawing as we listened to sermons, not unlike most Christian families. The danger lay in the fact that we began to grow numb to the truth contained within the words, until we dully recited them like a list of past participles, assured of our accuracy but less than enthusiastic about the well of knowledge they offered.
Hardened of heart by the age of ten, I was a gleeful little sinner who could spell "Pentateuch," recite John 3:16 and define “Justification,” but really hadn’t any idea what the meaning behind it all was. I could rehearse the Gospel, but that was exactly what it was; a self-satisfied performance of something I’d never experienced. As I grew, I often pleaded with the Lord for salvation, but still relied upon my own strength and worth for the cleansing of my sins and renewing of my heart.
The autumn following my eleventh birthday, I began attending ladies’ Bible study with my mom in our small church. The topic was on evangelism, and I enjoyed the discussion and exercises - even the homework assignments - partly because I enjoyed school, but largely because it was another stage on which to flaunt my “knowledge.”
The more we studied the Gospel and its glorious implications, however, the more aware I grew of my own deficiencies. Am I really a Christian? I asked myself day after day, when my Bible remained dusty on my shelf, untouched since the last Sunday. Do I really know the Lord, or just know about Him?
The Lord then used the very thing that I had allowed to become my peril as the channel of my salvation, the blessing it was meant to be. My dad preached a sermon on justification and its evidences in the life of a believer that pierced me through the heart. God had been working in my heart for several weeks through the study, and this convicting message ended my struggle. The Psalm for our public reading of Scripture was Psalm 32, and its message furthered to melt my hardened heart.
This was certainly my plea; after meditating upon this Psalm for the afternoon, I came to my dad and shared with him how the Lord had been working my heart. He and my mother both offered their loving guidance and I trusted Christ for salvation from my sins that night. Most people define the feeling as a weightlessness, an emotion as free and new as the wind, but I had a slightly different sensation. Although I felt relieved and renewed, I also had the deepest sense of peace I’d ever felt, along with an abiding joy, that made it difficult to define the feeling as “weightless.”
Since then, my parents and some very special godly friends have come alongside me and helped me to grow in my knowledge of my Savior. I had the immense blessing of being baptized with my best friend by my father the following year, and this Sunday will be my fourth birthday in the Lord. The lessons He has taught me in this time never cease to amaze me! “Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come; ‘tis grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.” The Gospel is not a one-time “giving of your heart to Jesus;” although He has saved us “once and for all,” Jesus Christ is “significantly relevant to me in my daily walk with Him.”* He is the “Author and Perfector” of my faith. And although “evil is pressing within me” (Romans 7:21) I am “freed from sin and enslaved to God” (6:22) “So that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (5:21)
*Elyse Fitzpatrick, Because He Loves Me
Just Us Girlz. She's a fan of Jane Austen, Starbucks, and red shoes - among other things.