Five years ago on this day, my life was radically transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. From darkness to light. From death to being alive for the first time. From sin, shame, guilt, to joy, love, peace. Christ saved me.
When I surrendered my life to Christ, I wasn’t sure about this whole Christianity thing. I had grown up in church, but I had been completely blind to the truth for so many years. I had seen hypocrisy in the church, and evil actions take place there. I had become a skeptic of God and His church, even as far to call those who were Christian’s a fraud and God as not real.
Jesus though, in spite of my skepticism and unbelief, in spite of my anger and utter dis-contempt toward God and His people, was pursuing me and calling me to stop running from the truth and to surrender to His grace and Lordship over my life.
He did this in two ways.
First, God brought strangers into my life in the fall of 2011 who loved me so well. They pointed me towards Christ. They never threw me out of their midst when I mocked them quietly, when I didn’t want anything to do with them or their group, or their God. Their love was constant because Christ was in them, and His love was constant.
Second, People committed to pray for me. My parents are prayer warriors. They prayed for me for seven years straight without seeing one inkling of a change. Their friends prayed for me. I had people all over praying for me, and God heard and answered their prayers.
So on the morning of January 6th, 2012, on my knees, with no one around, I stopped running. I repented of my sins and the life that I had tried to live without God, and I surrendered my life to Jesus and His purpose for me.
Saved. That very moment, I was saved from sins, my past, destruction, hell. I was saved from all those things, but I was also saved “for” things as well.
That very day, after surrendering my life to Christ, God called me into the ministry. I was baffled. “Thanks for saving me Jesus, but you don’t want me to be an ambassador for you.”
His call was clear and resounding. “You will be a minister of my grace.”
Well, five years later, that call has come true. God has gifted me with the opportunity to share His Gospel with those around me.
That is His privilege to all of us: to share the gospel that saved us with those that don’t know Him that He may change their lives as well.
Something I learned is that the Gospel restores. This is what Jesus restored in my life.
Jesus restored my purpose.
Jesus restored school.
Jesus restored my work place.
Jesus restored my relationship with my family.
Jesus restored broken friendships.
Jesus restored my hometown.
Jesus restored EVERYTHING.
And in the midst of Jesus restoring everything, people’s lives were changed, not by my story, or by things that I did. Lives were changed by the Gospel.
Each year on my anniversary of being a disciple of Christ, I have gotten to do something cool. Last year I was starting my church planting internship in Asheville. The year before that I was in Washington, DC working with a church plant. The year before that I was in Nashville, TN witnessing to Muslims, and the year before that, I was being baptized.
This year? Well, I am sitting at my computer typing away on this post. I have seminary work to do this afternoon, and sermon prep for next Wednesday.
But all in all, life is good. Looking back five years ago, seems like a whole nother life time. And yes, it actually was. The old Joseph is dead. The new Joseph is five years old today. And he is very blessed to be alive.