Salvation stories fascinate me. I suppose other through history have felt the same way. Perhaps Paul, who had the most extraordinary deliverance from unbelief was also interested in other stories about how God brought them to the moment of faith. It probably seemed a miracle that Gentiles could be brought to saving faith even though they had not been raised with the consciousness of one God (the God of the Jews). But the reality is that each story is a miracle, and as a miracle, each story is to be celebrated.
My miracle starts with a quest. I had been raised with some attendance to a Presbyterian church. In middle school I was invited to a Baptist camp, and I jumped up at the invitation to come down front, but as fate would have it, I waited too long and did not make it in time. The lights came on and I stopped. Thus I went home from that camp saying I was saved, but when my brother asked me “Saved from what?” I did not have an answer.
After college, I moved to a large metropolitan area to work. The dangers of this existence pushed me to find God. I started visiting various churches. In college I had already met a man through a friend that I thought was a Rabbi. I asked this man if I could become a Jew. The answer was “no.” I would like to add here that this man was not a Rabbi. But this did make my journey take other turns. I honestly felt in my heart that if there was a God, He would want to reveal Himself to me. And I knew enough about scripture to know “He who seeks, will find and he who knocks, the door will be opened.” I did believe this as truth. I still believe this as truth. If someone wants to know God, they need to seek Him. I began praying that God would lead me to a church where I could learn the truth. I started going to churches. With others and by myself.
I will shorten my descriptions here to quick summaries. I went to Catholic church, and I started to learn the ritual and sayings. However, I had someone tell me I should not take communion with them until I had taken classes to join. That ended my attendance. I know enough to know that the thief on the cross wen to heaven without taking a class. This formal path to salvation did not appeal to me and seemed antithetical to God’s plan through history. How could all those people in the early church take a class? Clearly this was something man had created.
Next I went briefly to a charismatic church. A woman fell on the ground and started shaking. It was all I could do not to try to assist with CPR. I did not go back. This was enough for me to see these folks did not need to have any members who had epilepsy. And if they excluded epileptics, it could not be the truth as God does not exclude anyone. At least that was my view. I figured I would know the truth…because it would not exclude anyone. If God had created a path to Him, it must be a path open to anyone and everyone whether they be blind, or lame, or sick, or possessed.
The next church I went to was a Unity church. Here I will admit that I did not get much information except the idea that God was love, love, love. This was appealing for a while but honestly I did not like all the touching. We held hands and sang Kumba-ya and it felt like campfire camp and not church. Personally I don’t like strangers touching me, so I did not return.
A friend at work kept inviting me to her church. In the back of my mind I thought it could not be an answer to my prayer because it was so far away to drive to the church. Her mother passed away, and I visited the Bible church. Since I cared for her, the passing of her mother was an event which I wanted to support her through. The pastor did not say anything that sent up a red flag. I started to go to the church, and the pastor was teaching in the book of John. We went through a study of the woman at the well in Chapter 4. I can look back now and see how God was telling me that a woman can know the truth or the Messiah when she sees Him. And then it happened. My beloved pastor reached Chapter 6. We studied verses 28 through 29. Wow. I wanted the truth of salvation from God. Here was the nitty gritty. In these verses Jesus was asked plainly: “What shall we do that we might work the works of God?” Jesus answered them. Wow. Did he say take a class? Did he say to get busy for me? Did he say speak in tongues? Did he say to love your brother? No. Jesus said: “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” The pastor said, ‘This is a nail you can hang your hat on.’ And boy was it a nail. It all came flooding in to me. How simple! Believe in Jesus for salvation, and believe in the Holy Spirit for sanctification or for living your life. That simple!! And it is ALL inclusive, because everyone can believe. Irregardless of what any man can say I have never left this truth since that day. Jesus said it and I believed it. Thus I experienced my first and very personal miracle. Praise be to my God.