When I was 12 years old, I sat in an Easter Sunday service at Blue Grass Church and listened to Pastor Doug explain this Jesus Christ guy in a way I hadn’t understood before. I was overcome with emotion and knew that I had to do something about what I’d heard, so I prayed with a friend and mentor and she helped me accept Christ into my life as my Savior. From then on, when people asked me if I was “saved” (ick) or if I had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I would refer back to that Easter Sunday and affirm that yes, I did know Jesus. I was never defensive, nor did I feel accused. I was confident in my story and confident in my relationship with the Lord.
While I was on Summer Ministry Team, however, Jesus quickly started working in my heart to repair my false certainties. The Lord revealed to me that I had not been following him wholeheartedly at age 12, nor at age 13, nor at ages 14 through 18, in fact. He showed me the person I was in middle school and in high school, and he let me compare that person to who I am now. He held me close and tenderly whispered, You’ve got it all wrong.
It turns out that, in fact, I was not a follower of Christ until September 18, 2014 (one year ago today) when I went to the altar after Rev. Stan Key’s message at Asbury’s Thursday evening Fall Revival service and told Jesus, All I am is yours. I surrender. I’ll do whatever it takes, to which Jesus promptly responded with exactly what it would take. He spoke to me in a step-by-step process, with step one being to break up with my boyfriend.
Obviously I protested. Lord, you don’t understand, I prayed. I love him! I need him! Jesus answered ever so sweetly, That, my daughter, is exactly the problem. I knew that if I was going to go through with my commitment to the Lord, I would have to confess to someone in that moment what Jesus was doing in my heart, to tell someone who would hold me accountable to the steps I had to take to be all in for Christ.
I went to Jon, my professor, mentor, and friend, and through my sobs I managed to get out, “Jesus wants me to break up with my boyfriend!” Jon nodded compassionately and responded, “Oh, honey… I know.”
That night I went to Applebee’s with my roommate (holding back tears at the dinner table), excused myself for a moment, and called my boyfriend from the parking lot of the restaurant to break up with him. We both cried. It hurt so much. I was depressed for days after, when the world looked gray and gross and I was wading through heavy haze everywhere I went.
The crazy thing about the depression, though, is that Jesus was right there with me. When I felt at my worst, he felt even closer. When I could barely get out of bed to go to class, he sang songs of healing and redemption over me. When I couldn’t sleep at night because my mind wouldn’t stop wandering, Jesus gave me the prayers to pray and the scriptures to read. Once I surrendered my life, I could feel the presence of the Lord meeting me exactly where I was, in the midst of my pain and confusion and hardship.
And this summer, Jesus revealed to me that that moment is when I entered into relationship with him. I was not a Christian after I went to the altar on Easter Sunday. I was not following Christ when I jumped from relationship to relationship in high school, or when I focused on self-promotion and cancerous comparison. I became a Christ-follower when I surrender, and accepted Jesus not only as Savior, but as Lord of my life. I decided to let him call the shots, and I began intentionally obeying his commands, his call, his desires for my life.
At this groundbreaking realization, I went to Ariane in anguish, worried about the ramifications of my whole story to this point being a lie. Ariane listened as I spoke, and when I got to the quintessential question — “What does this mean!?” — she chuckled softly and reassured me, “It literally doesn’t mean anything. It just means, now you know.”
Now I know.
Now I know that being mistaken is not my whole life being a lie. Now I know that Jesus has been eagerly pursuing me since the beginning of time, and he continued to pursue me even when I thought I was already in a relationship with him. Now I know that September 18 is actually a really big day for me. Now I know that I am a daughter of the King, a follower of Christ, a servant to his Kingdom, and I’m in passionate pursuit of his will for me.
Now I know.