For those who may not be familiar with my story, I became a Christ-follower in high school. I’m grateful for several men who influenced the early steps in my spiritual journey, including guys like Charlie, Lee, and Chris. Charlie, in particular, met with me just about every Saturday over several months. I would either go to his home or his office, and he helped me begin to understand who Jesus was and what he did for me.
Through that process, I was introduced to the Bible. This was a big deal for me. As I was growing up, the church I attended did not encourage people to engage with God’s Word. I heard messages taught from the Bible growing up, but there was no encouragement to read, study, or attempt to apply the Bible to my life. That’s why when Charlie introduced me to the story of Jesus in the New Testament, I was captivated. God’s Word really came alive for me.
Though we were several years away from getting married, Emily also encouraged me in those first steps of faith. In fact, she gave me my first leather-bound Bible as my high school graduation present. I still have that Bible. It’s all marked up with notes and underlines and various colors of highlighting.
I also made it a habit in those early days of my spiritual journey to make a series of lists on the blank pages in the back of my Bible. I think in lists. I write in lists. It probably drives you nuts, but it helps me bring order to chaos. I made lists on various topics, such as what the Bible says about growing in my faith, sharing my faith with others, and what God did to offer me new life.
Here’s one of those lists:
The moment I trusted Christ…
- All my sins were forgiven — past, present, and future (Colossians 2:13-14).
- I became a child of God (John 1:12; Romans 8:15).
- I received eternal life (John 5:24).
- I was delivered from darkness and transferred into the Kingdom of God (Colossians 1:13).
- Christ came to dwell in me (Colossians 1:27; Revelation 3:20).
- I became a new person (2 Corinthians 5:17).
- I was declared righteous by God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
- I entered into a relationship with God, with love at the foundation (1 John 4:9-11).
- I was accepted by God (Colossians 1:19-22).
- I became holy in God’s eyes (Colossians 3:12).
- I was given a mission from God to do good works (Ephesians 2:10).
- I became a light in a dark world (Matthew 5:14).
- I joined an overwhelming victory (Romans 8:37).
- God made me complete (Colossians 2:10).
- I became an heir to God’s glory (Romans 8:17).
What’s encouraging about this list, of course, is that it can go on and on. This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how God has completely transformed my life.
I don’t know about you, but every once in awhile I need to go back to the beginning. I need to be reminded of who I am in Christ. That’s my identity. It’s not what the world says about me. It’s not what Facebook or Twitter says about me. It’s not even what I say about me.
When I go back to those first steps I took in my relationship with Christ, it’s also a reminder of why I do what I do today. Those first steps are still shaping my next steps.
This may sound silly to share with an audience primarily composed of professional Christians, but I sensed this reminder might be helpful. Go back to your first steps. Remember what Christ did for you. Embrace, again, who you are in Christ.
Before you engage in ministry today, remember why you are on a mission from God.