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One On One

I had an on and off relationship with God throughout my childhood, teen and young adult years. I attended Sunday school, completed a confirmation class and was baptized when I joined the Methodist church as a college student. I believed in Jesus and that he died for me, but I was always missing an assurance in my heart that I was truly a Christian. There was a desire for something more, but I wasn't willing to make a full commitment to God yet. I can even remember asking him to please, just wait for me.

Right after our first child was born, my husband and I bought our first house where God gave us an amazing Christian friend as a backdoor neighbor. You couldn't know her long without loving her and without knowing about her relationship with Jesus. It was appealing, but I spent several years just observing and pondering that kind of friendship with the Lord.

Then her husband died, leaving her a young widow with four children. Through all their grief and hardship, I saw God’s abundant grace, walking through the loss with them and strengthening and caring for them so faithfully. Finally, one night, lying awake in bed, reflecting on what I was seeing, I told Jesus, “I just want a relationship like that with you. And I will do whatever it takes.” God was so faithful to respond to that desperate commitment/prayer. He opened many doors, the first being a wonderful neighborhood Bible study where I was immersed in a feast of scripture and wise teaching that helped begin the personal relationship I had been missing for so long. My life was changing in so many wonderful ways.

However, I was unaware that something was still needed to complete that relationship. As a child in Sunday School, one of the first verses I memorized was John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." I believed it, but it wasn't soul-shaking because I comfortably placed myself amongst that huge crowd of people who were "the world."

One day, some time in the first year of this wonderful new friendship with Jesus, God just smacked me in the face with a startling insight. I was sitting at the kitchen table, eating lunch and reading some Christian article. I can't even remember what it was. Maybe no one else would have responded to it the way I did. But I suddenly knew that I was personally responsible for sins that were piled onto Jesus on that cross. If there were no one else in the world, Jesus still would have had to die for me. There was no such thing as a comfortable anonymous place for me among the crowds of the world. It was the first time I wept over my own sins that required Jesus' death on the cross. I was just so sorry. But at last, I knew I was truly a Christian.

Taking responsibility for the cost that Jesus paid in order for me to have a personal relationship with him cemented our relationship as nothing else could. Like a good marriage or good friendship, it was two-sided. If I wanted a one-on-one relationship with Jesus, I needed to relate one-on-one with the cross.

** You can find a fuller story of Luanne’s faith journey in a podcast at Creekside Conversations:  Loved Into The Kingdom: A Sixty-five Year Journey

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