Today is a big day. I openly celebrate my sobriety day. That’s a big day for me.
But there’s a day that is even more important to me than my sobriety, and that is the day I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ . . . and that day was twenty-three years ago . . . tonight.
Kayla was in bed.
Our small one bedroom apartment was quiet. I sat down in my gold suede 1970’s chair . . .
I knew . . . It was time to surrender.
For ninety days I had been attending The Most Excellent Way meetings.
Every Tuesday night and then we started Friday night meetings . . . as well as some Monday and Thursday meetings at various churches that held the meetings.
I often heard things I did not want to hear in those meetings, but I knew I needed to break the cycle of addiction and I knew I couldn’t do it on my own.
But what kept me going was the acceptance and love I found in that room – no expectation.
And eventually something began drawing me in . . .
I started attending Sunday morning services at the annoying constant invitation from a lady that was watching Kayla at the church while I attended the Tuesday night meetings. (As a side note – be persistent when the Lord puts someone on your heart – don’t give up after a dozen no’s -)
I clearly remember gripping the back of the pew in front of me.
I wasn’t looking for this Jesus thing and wasn’t willing to give up. After all, this was the same girl that stood in a bar, holding a beer, proudly shouting “I don’t believe there is a god and if there is one he’s a male chauvinist pig.” I then proclaimed, “and IF there is a god I will never bow to him.”
How could I surrender to something I didn’t believe in?
How could “God” even want someone that would hate him and blame him for so much pain?
How could “God” even want someone like me that did the dirty things I had done?
I didn’t know the answers to those questions but I did know I needed to keep going.
I eventually started visiting Sunday School, but I remember thinking the best small group where people weren’t fake was at The Most Excellent Way. (I eventually found two Sunday school classes that were pivotal in teaching me scripture and about this man named Jesus.)
(God had sent a co-worker where I worked a few months before I started attending meetings – – she was a Christian and believe it or not had two years sobriety . . . . through The Most Excellent Way.)
She typed up some scripture references for me and a prayer when I started asking what it meant to ask Jesus into one’s heart.
But I couldn’t let go of myself. For weeks I began “hearing” Him . . . “Come to me . . . Surrender . . . You’re mine. I want you.”
But I couldn’t get through my thick head that He wanted me for me. I spent weeks telling Him I needed to fix this or clean up this . . .
But on this particular tonight, twenty-three years ago – He made it clear it was time to surrender. He was in pursuit of me – a heavy pursuit. I stomped my feet at Him (and I still do the same thing – so thankful for grace), told Him, “Fine! I’ll do it!”
I pulled my piece of paper out from my coworker and started reading how we are all sinners and none can be good enough or clean enough to earn God’s love and acceptance.
I learned that He can make me a new creation.
I had lived a life of lies so bad I didn’t even know what the truth was anymore – I was a drunk, a liar , a cheat, a thief, and had been a harlot . . . I read He would make me new . . . that the old would go away and the new would come. I wanted that. Of all the verses I read – I think this one was the one that finally led me to surrender – no more trying to clean myself up and just let Him do it.
I read the scripture verses and made it clear to God I was just reading for understand – I wasn’t admitting anything yet – –
Romans 10:9-10 got my attention.
. . . if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
That meant I had to believe in my heart – not just my head. But it also meant I couldn’t keep it to myself.
I had to tell –
I realized just reading those verses and prayer in my head wouldn’t save me, I read it the first time for context – to see what was expected. Then I read them a second time for more understanding, but I made sure He knew I wasn’t ready yet and that I was still just making sure I knew what I was getting in to (o still laugh about that)
I could feel my heart beating – I had butterflies in my stomach like never before –
But in those moments, before I read the verses and prayer for the third time . . . I had my first real conversation with Him – acknowledging IF He was real He would have to help me through this. I told Him I didn’t want to be a hypocrite and that I wanted to be real – I didn’t want to be fake. I told Him my family would think I’ve lost my mind and gone off the deep end – I wanted to be a new person. I acknowledged the first two times I read the verses and prayer they were for understanding, but before I read it the third time . . . I told Him I was reading it with my heart and that it was all or nothing. Then I read those verses and read a generic prayer of salvation – I acknowledged I was a sinner, asking Him to forgive me of my sins, to come into my heart – and save me . . . to change me.
Before I stood up out of that 1970’s gold suede chair, I slid quietly to my knees – knowing full well the grace that had been extended to a wretch like me.
I stood up that night no longer a thief, liar, drunk, or a harlot – I stoop up a Princess and child of the Most High King.
I was a new creation.
What He did for me that night, He will do for you. As hard as we make it, it really is quite simple –
-acknowledge you’re a sinner
-ask for forgiveness
– invite Him in
He will do the rest.
But the first step is to come . . .just as you are.