As a teenager who craved acceptance and belonging, I imitated the cool kids. So, when the cool girls went to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) club in my public high school, I went, too. Since I had attended my little, white country church from childhood, I was receptive to the spiritual atmosphere.
From my earliest memories, I had known God, so I was comfortable with Him. I had even prayed to Him a few times. Jesus was a mystery to me. He was the focus of Bible stories in Sunday School, so I knew about Him. To me, He was a flannel-graph figure or a cut-out craft. In those stories, He healed the sick and said, “Verily,” a lot. Of course, I knew the basics. He was born on Christmas, died on a cross, and rose on Easter morning, but He remained a literary figure in a well-known book.
However, in FCA club, Jesus was real and personal, someone singled out as important.
During an regional FCA gathering, I met Julie. The speaker talked about Jesus’s death and resurrection, moving me to tears. For the first time, I realized that I wanted to know Him. Afterward, Julie approached me, introducing herself and asking, “Are you okay?” I already knew her as the setter on a rival school’s volleyball team; that day, we became friends. As we spent time together, Julie talked about Jesus like He was her best friend, and she read the Bible every day. Until I met Julie, I thought that only pastors read the Bible and talked to God.
One evening in April, 1983, after visiting a Christian coffee house, we sat on her bedroom floor listening to music on her record player. She had introduced me to Amy Grant, and now we were listening to Keith Green. When Keith Green sang “Alter Call,” the words stopped me. I wanted to know more about Jesus.
Most people don’t find out“Alter Call,” Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, 1978
‘Till it’s too late
That someone has to pay the price
You can pay it your self (Ha!)
Or let someone else
But who would be that nice
To pay a debt that isn’t his
Well I know someone like that
And He’s your best friend
He really is
He really loves you . . . .
You say you’ve heard lots of preaching
So many times
But did you ever open up your door
Give Him a chance
To prove Himself
That He’s real or not
I hope you find out
Before it’s too late
That there’s really nobody else
When the song ended, Keith Green invited the audience to bow their heads and pray with him. Julie asked me, “Do you want to pray with Keith, too?”
Did she mean pray out loud? I shook my head.
A week passed, and I pondered Julie’s invitation to pray. I wanted to, but I wasn’t sure how to begin the conversation with Jesus. Easter was two weeks away, so I decided to ask my pastor. In my small, country church, spiritual decisions were announced during the last Sunday-morning hymn, so I planned to walk the aisle and tell my pastor. At 12, I had been baptized, but I hadn’t understood what it meant. Now, at 17, I had discovered Jesus, and I wanted more.
After church that day, I knelt in my upstairs bedroom and told Jesus, “I really want You.” My mind and spirit immediately felt different. A satisfying and peaceful calm came over me. My heart felt like a river at flood stage, overflowing its banks. Though no one had told me about the Holy Spirit, I knew unmistakably that He had moved in and made Himself at home, like an old friend who slips in through the back door and announces, “It’s me. I’m here.”
Truth to Live By: Jesus transforms our lives when He enters in through the Holy Spirit.