She was 13, a child of the ’60s, though Flower Power hadn’t hit her area of the Pacific Northwest hard yet. Mom was mentally unstable, dad, an on-the-road workaholic. She was fairly bright, academically, but a slow-developer, socially, and had already managed to draw the attention of the “mean girls” at her junior high school. She was called names, made fun of, threatened. She was lonely and often afraid
Then someone invited her to church.
Even though she’d always said ‘no,’ before, this time she said ‘yes.’ She didn’t know why, but she got out of bed, dressed as if for school, and walked the four blocks to the little church around the corner. They sang songs in the teen Sunday School class, she recognized a few kids from school, and the teacher was a friendly lady who told them stories from the Bible and invited her back the next week.
She came back. It was nice to have people smile when she came into a room, to feel welcomed. It wasn’t stressful like home, or scary like school.
Then she heard the story about Jesus. She’d heard about Jesus before, of course. Everyone knew he was the baby born at Christmas. And she’d heard rumors about that same baby growing up and being killed in a terrible way, but she’d never understood it or why anyone would do such a thing. Now, they told her. That baby had grown up to be the most perfect man the world had ever seen. He was kind to everyone—even the unpopular people no one else liked. He befriended people, he healed them. He did things no one had done before– miracles. And He told them He was the Son of God and that He loved them. Some people listened, learned, and loved Him back; others didn’t. They hated Him. His goodness shone a bright light on the darkness of their own hearts and they sought to destroy Him.
Eventually, they did. It appeared the darkness had won, as it so often does.
The girl listened to the story and she cried in her heart. It was so wrong. How could anyone have done such a thing to one so kind and good?
But that wasn’t the end of the story. Not only was Jesus kind and good, she learned, but He was all-powerful. Just as He’d said–He was God Himself, and death—the last great enemy—was nothing. On the third day, He blasted through death’s feeble hold, and walked out of the grave, never to die again.
Nearly 2000 years later, on March 3, 1968, the 13-year-old girl heard His voice. He said “I want you to be my child. Will you follow me?” She didn’t understand it all, but she still thought that was the best idea she’d ever heard. She said “Yes.”
Fifty years later today, she’s never been sorry she heard that voice and answered that call.
As you’ve probably figured out, this is my story. The last fifty years have not all been sunshine and rainbows. I’ve had my share of crashes and confusion but He has never abandoned me—not even once. He is so good and I am so thankful that He looked down from heaven one day and saw that lonely kid who needed Him so much. Thank You, Jesus, and Happy (spiritual) Birthday to Me!
How about you? What’s YOUR Jesus story?