Let me ask you a question. “Where were you on October 30, 1976?” If you’re like me, you probably can remember where you were and what you were doing on those important milestone dates in life: your children’s births, the deaths of loved ones, major historical events such as such as Nov. 22, 1963 and 9/11 and maybe a few others. But October 30, 1976? What is so noteworthy about that date?
Well that day is the most significant date in my life: it is the day I became born again. I was 24 years old. I had been raised as a Roman Catholic but in college I became agnostic. It was the seventies, time to do your own thing. So I did. Yet after a few years I fell into a state of deep depression and anxiety. I turned to the Lord for help. I called out to Him in prayer. I read the Bible, Christian books and listened to Christian radio and TV preachers.
I became convinced that I had to repent and believe that Jesus is Lord and savior to be saved. But, in the light of my Catholic upbringing which was deeply ingrained in me, that sounded too easy. After all I was a sinner. God could not love me as I was. I had to do something to make God accept me, not just repent and believe. I did not know that grace is a gift. I thought I had to earn it. I thought I had to earn God’s love and acceptance.
And so I was left in a state of despair for several months wondering what exactly I had to do to obtain God’s favor. I felt that I was tottering at the brink of the bottomless pit of Hell, ready to fall in and be lost forever. What was worse, I had heard the gospel and would remember for all eternity that I could have had the joys of heaven.
On the evening of October 30, 1976 I discovered the truth. As I was reading a book called Satan is Alive and Well On Planet Earth, the author, Hal Lindsey, revealed that Satan deceived many people into thinking exactly what I was thinking, that God did not love me because I was a sinner. Lindsey cited 2 Scriptures that dispelled that deception: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV). Salvation is the gift of God: it cannot be earned but given freely!
Then Lindsey quoted Romans: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:6-11 ESV).
God showed His love for me in that Christ had died for me while I was yet a sinner. I was justified by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, not by anything I could do. In fact, there was nothing I could do to be saved. Jesus had done it all. He was giving it to me! All I had to do was accept it. At the moment I read those words I felt all my guilt and despair vanish. I knew I was accepted by the Lord because He said so in His word.
For 39 years later I have served the Lord in times of plenty, suffering, doubt and joy. I hold fast to His promise of salvation by faith in Christ alone despite what suffering I endure or the evil I see. He is true and faithful to His word, always. Thank you Lord Jesus for loving me