I've pretty much been in church all my life. Growing up, my mom was a Sunday School teacher for the teens in my church, and my dad was both a Sunday School teacher and was and currently still is the head of the Christian Education Department at my home church. (My dad developed the curriculum needed for each specific age group within the church). All of my friends knew the stereotypical "church lingo" - "Hallelujah!", "Amen!" - things of that nature, but none of us truly knew what any of it meant.
I grew up knowing a lot about the Bible, but I never had any relationship or knowledge of God.
I believed that God was real and the controller of everything, but that knowledge was more intellectual and not knowledge that came from a personal relationship that I had with Him. By the age of nine or ten, I knew a large sum of scripture verses, but never thought to ask anyone the meaning behind the verses that I had memorized. Every summer I had attended Bible camp with my older brother and I learned verses there, but the motivation behind the memorization was never for a connection with God, but for some earthly reward. Every Friday night at this Bible camp there would be held a campfire so that anyone willing to share could have the opportunity to share their personal testimonies. Every time Friday night came around, I would always have this sinking feeling of guilt and despair that I now realize was only God drawing me to a relationship with Him. Sometimes I would stand and make up a testimony because in fact, many of my friends who had previously told their testimonies actually made them up and a few years later did in fact give their lives to Christ. This went on for a few years.
In February 2005 when I was eleven, almost twelve, my dad, being the leader of the Christian Education Department of my home church, was hosting an evening service on the Sunday of the 27th. My brother didn't want to go back to church because at the time all he wanted to do way play video games and tinker with building a computer. My mom was at the time cooking dinner and also needed to prepare for her job for the next day, so she couldn't attend. I volunteered to go, not really to pay attention to the service that was going on, but to have another opportunity to hang out with my friends.
After my and my dad's arrival at the service, he aided as the host of the event and I sat near the back of the church with my friends. For the bulk of the time, all we did was talk, pass notes to each other, and ignored what was going on around us. It wasn't until the middle of the service that I really started paying attention.
The whole point of the service was information-based. People were asked to submit questions on or before the day of the service at church to be asked to a panel of biblical scholars and missionaries. Many questions related to clarification or elaboration of particular passages in the Bible that didn't make full sense to the person that was studying it. Other questions came from the person's past experiences and how the Bible relates to those experiences. The question that caught my attention in the middle of this particular service was a question related to what happens once we all pass away, in particular babies that die before hearing the good news of the Gospel of Christ.
I knew about heaven and hell and knew that they lasted forever, but it clicked to me then that it really lasted forever. Nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus (Romans 8:38-39), but the one thing that does separate us from Jesus is our sin (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23). Once you're in either location, there's no turning back. Either enjoy eternal happiness with God in heaven or endure the everlasting weeping associated with hell as a result of unrepentant sins.
It was in this moment that all those moments of hearing God calling me, luring me towards Himself, came back to me and made sense - not totally, but enough for me to know that I lacked something great in my life - I lacked Jesus as my Lord and Savior. There was a lot of talking near the end of this afternoon service, so I pulled aside a missionary that went to my church and asked her to explain to me about Jesus, why He's so important, and how could I get to know Him. She went into great length sharing the Gospel with me, answering any questions that I generated. Once realizing the deep, deep love that Jesus has shown to me, to us, I went back home and received Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Things haven't been easy since that cold day in February 2005, but I have no regrets whatsoever of surrendering my life to Him.
So many people that I know verbally express that they are Christians or believe that God is the one true God, but their actions contradict their words. Your actions reveal your heart's true desires. Although its great to be saved from the punishment of sin, live a life worthy of God's calling on your life. If you haven't received Jesus as your Savior, don't wait! God wants to have a relationship with you if you'll receive Him. He is the only one willing and able to forgive you for your sins. God doesn't promise a pleasant life on earth, but He does promise a future reward of eternity with Him if you receive it. Receive Jesus' free gift now.