I can still remember the day the Holy Spirit quickened me. My dead spirit came alive and I received my new heart of flesh. The Gospel was preached to me, and for the first amazing moment, I understood this message was for me. His story was my story. Jesus died for my sins. He was crushed for my iniquities. With every whip of the scourge on His flesh, my wounds were healed. The Lord laid on Him all of my evil. The decision I made that night was not to be saved, because that had already happened through the work of the Holy Spirit. The decision I made was to follow Christ because I was saved.
The next day I was baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I can still remember the old preacher Charles White telling me as I came up from the water, dripping wet: “This is the song of your new life. Whenever you hear it from this day on, you will remember this day.” The song they were singing was “Happy Day.” Yes, Charles, I still remember.
I was on fire that day, and nothing could stop me. Nothing that is until my first deliberate sin after my conversion. From that day onward, I have struggled with feeling like a failure. I felt like God had given me this great new life and then I let Him down. My earthly father, who himself struggled with the same feelings in his walk, did his best to comfort me. I felt like any day, God would have had enough of me and leave. When I shared these feelings with my dad, I will never forget what he said.
“He is your Father, son. He will never leave you.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You won’t. Not until you are a father.”
Years passed and I never understood that. I struggled. I doubted God’s love for me. I doubted I could measure up, so I stopped trying to. I wandered from Him. I spent some of the best years of my youth wasting away in a “far country.” Then one day, grieved over my lifestyle of sin, unable to live in a far country anymore, I turned my heart back towards home. Unsure if I was even welcome, I called upon the Lord. In that instant, I felt His overwhelming love wash over me. His hand guided me back to Him, and soon God sent Curtis Jones (an old friend and recent convert) to help me find Steven’s Street Baptist Church. I knew the story of the Prodigal Son that day, and it is beautiful beyond words. He left the 99 to find the one, and I was the one.
But even with this, I still did not understand His love for me. There were deep sins I could not conquer within, and so I still believed He might regret His decision to save me and call it quits. Every failure, every sin, brought me closer to losing Him. Or so I thought.
God sent Joey Norsworthy into my life to take me under his wing. That man of God trained me up in the basics of theology and hermeneutics. I soon began to have an intellectual understanding of His never-ending love and His long-suffering, but I still didn’t understand it in my heart. My struggle continued, but this time I persevered and stuck with Him even though I felt any moment it might be over. I chose to believe it in my mind even though I did not feel it in my heart.
Then God brought me into a relationship with the love of my life, Gena Cohoon. She began to teach me in only the way she could that God’s love was for keeps. I still remember a bookmark she gave me before we even dated that had scriptures on it that pointed to God’s eternal love and who I was in Christ. God’s child. God’s treasure. No wonder I fell in love with her! It helped me carry on, but I still didn’t understand in my heart.
Then God enabled my wife to conceive. She bore me a son, Joshua. I was so excited for so many reasons. In the secret place of my heart, I also hoped my dad was right, and I would finally understand what he meant.
I soon understood that my love for my son is unconditional. I loved him before he was even born. I loved him before he did anything good or bad. I accepted him completely. I could never think of doing him harm. I want to do him good all the days of his life. I want to raise him in the Lord and prepare him as best I can for all he must face. I will never cast him out or turn him aside. If he asks for food, I will feed him. If he leaves me in disgust and scorn, I will sit on my porch looking for his return. When he does, I will run to him and kiss him and throw a party for him. Jesus says in Matthew 7:11 that if I am evil and yet know how to love my kids, how much more does God love me and know how to give me good things?
My children have taught me more about God’s love for me than any other experience in life. There are so many things I would not know without them.
I still don’t get it all, oh no. His love transcends any love I have for my children, but my dad was right. He is my Daddy. He will never leave me or forsake me. He will never regret saving me! He has begun a good work in me and will be faithful to complete it in the Day of Jesus Christ!
So for those of you who do not yet have children and struggle to believe in the love of God, JUST WAIT!