In light of the debate on "free-will", I have been thinking a lot this morning of my own conversion. I was seven years old. It was before Sunday School and they were praying for some children whose parents did not come to church. As they prayed for the salvation of these parents, I could feel the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart. I wanted to ask Jesus to forgive me but... I was shy and scared. No one else was at the altar... indeed an "altar call" had not been given. I hesitated but... oh, how I wanted to come to Jesus! I felt tears brimming into my eyes. Suddenly, my mother, who had been praying turned and looked at me. She put her arm around me and asked if I wanted to pray.
I started to say yes but hesitated. "I want to but I can't," I whispered. Puzzled, my mother asked me why. I tried to explain that they had only asked certain children to come up to be prayed for...
Do those of you reading this right now understand why I have such an aversion to the idea that God's salvation is only extended to some? In my mind, I hadn't been "called", I hadn't been "chosen". I was standing on the "outside". I'm crying as I write this because I am thinking about how God REFUSED to allow me to believe that!
My mother gently told me that ALL could come. What? Even if an "altar call" wasn't given, even if the pastor was not praying for me, I could come? Really? Truly?
No one else was going forward and like I said, church had not formally began but... thrusting aside my shyness and uncertainty, I stepped into the aisle and as I did so, my world came undone and has never been the same.
I forgot about the people around me and became deaf to what was going on. I only knew I wanted JESUS! Would He want me? Could He, would He forgive me? All I could do was brokenly sob out the words that I was sorry, would Jesus please forgive me.
Is someone going to tell me that repentance does not require an action on your part? To tell you the truth, no one can repent for you... you must do it yourself otherwise it means nothing.
God called and I responded. Does that mean I saved myself? Absolutely not! Did I have to respond to His love? No.
Is this what God wants? Coerced love and obedience? I don't think so. If it were so the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil would have never been placed in the Garden of Eden, fully accessible. Was it God's fault humanity fell? No but He clearly gave us the choice of who we would listen too.
Choices... we make them everyday. Jesus Christ came to set us free. Throughout the gospels, Jesus is recorded as saying, "Follow me". Sometimes, as in the case of Peter, the person responded by leaving everything behind to follow Jesus. Other times, as in the case of the Rich Young Ruler, they did not.
Jesus is calling all of us to follow Him. How will we respond to His call?