I've been a Christian for a long time. As a matter of fact I accepted Jesus into my heart during a Wednesday night church service when I was seven.
When I got to college, though, God began calling me to a greater commitment. It started with friends who I met through the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship group on campus. That year I was a spiritual sponge, soaking in all the Christian activities and knowledge I could: Prayer meetings at every lunch hour, Bible studies twice a week, church & Sunday School every week, a weekend conference during the first semester, and the 5-day Urbana missions conference my first Christmas break. I think my motive was essentially just to meet friends, but God honored even that selfish motive by teaching me and surrounding me with people who cared.
Even so, by February of my freshman year, I felt that nothing was going right and nobody cared. For the first time all year, I missed a Friday night Fellowship meeting and sulked in my room, thinking no one would notice or care. But God met me there, in my own private prison, and showed me He cared. Around 8:30 there was a knock at my door. My friend Sean was worried and had missed me. He knocked persistently, identified himself and everything while I just sat in the dark refusing to answer.
If I hadn't been to the point of tears before, I was definitely crying then. It took Sean's knock to make me realize that I mattered to God simply because I was Jennifer, but I still could not understand why Jesus had done what he did for me on the cross. Because He had died for me, I knew I had a chance to be God's child and live with Him forever. But why did I feel so unworthy? I thought I should have been the one on the cross, and I told God so.
But God spoke these words to my heart in a quiet moment and told me why Jesus died on that cross instead of me: "I love you." I realized at that point that God's love for me had nothing to do with anything I had done or not done, not even how I felt. Nothing could change His love for me. Christ's sacrifice for me still stood.
At that point I decided to start living out my Christian faith, not because I was trying to make friends or somehow prove myself worthy or earn God's love. From that point on, my participation in "Christian" activities became an expression of thankfulness and love rather than a plea for love or popularity.
I don't know where this finds you. Maybe you've never found God's love for you. I remember hearing when I was growing up that if I were the only person in the world that needed the forgiveness and new life Jesus brings, God still would have sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sins, no matter how bad a person I was. It's true. God knows everything about you and He still loves you. What He wants most in the world is for you to reach out to him now in prayer and simply accept His love for you. I know He's reaching out to you.
Jennifer Pearson / jenn at pearson dot org