My faith adventures started Freshman year of high school. A new school. New friends. One of which invited me to this thing called Young Life. For those of you that don't know what Young Life is, you can check it out here. But words will never do it justice.
On the outside it is a group of college-ish aged volunteers hanging out with high-schoolers, doing stupid skits, singing songs, and sharing God's word. But it is so much more. It is RELATIONSHIPS. it is all about relationships. These volunteers know Jesus. And they want you to know Jesus too. So they hang out with you. They come to your games and cheer you on. They play video games with you or talk on the phone or do whatever it is that you need to show you that Jesus loves you.
And I felt so special. From the moment I walked in and older kids were introducing themselves to me, I felt accepted and wanted by these people in a way that I had never felt before. There was no catch. Just genuine people who genuinely were glad I was there. I had no idea why at first. But then I went to Fall Weekend-a weekend retreat in November. It is full of fun and dirt and crazy games...and the Gospel. A speaker shared that God loved me. He was the one who wanted me and accepted me. He was the one who died for me on the cross. He saved me. At the end, the leaders let us have some time to ourselves and I asked Jesus to come into my heart. It changed my life. FOREVER.
Does that mean I immediately stopped struggling with all the crap a teenage girl struggles with? No. But I had a safe place to fall. My story isn't one where I accepted Christ and all the bad became good. It's a story of a faithful God running after a broken girl. And He hasn't ever stopped being faithful to me. He has remained. Even when I run hard away from Him. Even when I ignore Him. He has stood by me and told me "you are mine." The first verse I ever memorized was Romans 14:7-8 "If you live you live to the Lord, and if you die, you die to the Lord. So whether you live or die you BELONG TO THE LORD."
So all these year later, what does it mean?
I try to keep it simple. I am loved by God. He loved me so much that He died on the cross for my sin and in my place. He recognized that I would never be able to save myself. I would never be "good enough" to get into heaven, so He fixed the problem by sending His Son. And my life is a response to that grace.
From Calvary's cross wave upon wave of grace
deals with my sin,
washes me clean,
renews my heart,
strengthens my will,
draws out my affection,
kindles a flame in my soul,
rules throughout my inner man,
consecrates my every thought, word, work,
reaches me thy immeasurable love. ~"Privileges" Valley of Vision p284
That was the beginning of my faith story. All the years since have been quite the adventure that I am happy to share!