When I was in high school I saw a live production of Jesus Christ Superstar. I loved the energy demonstrated on stage and the great music. But I think the main reason I liked it so much was because I was asking the same questions that Judas was asking. Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, who are you, what have you sacrificed. I only want to know….
I received the album for my sixteenth birthday and listened to it constantly. My questions kept percolating. I wanted to know God, but He seemed so distant and disconnected to my life. Whenever I tried to pray, it was like talking to the ceiling. I wanted to believe, I just didn’t know how.
Around that time I had picked up a religious tract. The print was small, and the presentation boring, but I read it through to the end. At the bottom of the tract in bold letters were the words: Do not put this down until you know you are saved! I took the instruction literally, carrying it with me for several hours trying to figure out how ‘to get saved’, but nothing seemed to happen. Who are you Jesus? I only want to know.
I tried to read the Bible. I started dutifully with Genesis, but it was unappetizing and the King James English didn’t make things any easier. I never managed to slog past Exodus.
I felt the weight of being a sinner, and knew with a certainty that I wasn’t destined for heaven. My knowledge of the Bible was limited, but I lived in dread of eternity without God. But what could I do? I couldn’t break through that ceiling. I truly felt despair.
Then came April 5, 1973. It started as an ordinary day but would end in an extraordinary way. And I didn’t have to do a thing. God did it all. He burst through the ceiling and into my life.
It was a few weeks after my sixteenth birthday and I was working in downtown Flint, MI at a bridal boutique. Right around the corner from the boutique was a Christian coffeehouse, The Lighthouse. I had passed by it numerous times looking surreptitiously through the windows, but had never summoned up the courage to enter. On this night a co-worker asked me to go with her and so we made our way there after work. As soon as we entered the doors I was struck by the sense of a Presence that was completely unfamiliar to me. It was almost tangible. One of the leaders walked over to greet us. After we exchanged pleasantries, I quickly cut to the chase: “Can I get saved here?” I’ll never forget the look of surprise on his face, but he quickly recovered. He called out to the twenty or so young people in the room, announcing someone wanted to get saved. We all sat in a circle on the floor and everyone started to pray…. all at the same time!
Perhaps not a conventional sinner’s prayer, but is there really a conventional way to meet the Ruler and Creator of the Universe? I did not know how to pray. I bowed my head and said one word. Jesus. As I sat there, suddenly it was as though I was looking at myself from another vantage point. I saw myself sitting there with a bowed head, and when I said the name “Jesus”, a softly glowing light came on in my abdomen. It began to spread upward and when it reached my head, I knew in that instant that God was real.
It is amazing what the human mind can comprehend in a single moment of time. I knew immediately that I had finally found the answer for which I had been searching and that my whole life had been changed. Wham! Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17
Of course, in retrospect I can see that God had been at work in my life for a long time. It wasn’t because I had a special insight into my fallen human nature that I was cognizant of my sin; God had been revealing it to me. I did not yearn for a relationship with Him because I had a natural inclination for spiritual things; He had already been drawing me to Himself. I didn’t just happen to get a job right around the corner from a Christian coffeehouse; God had a carefully designed plan that would bring me to the time and place where He would shatter the once impenetrable ceiling.
Jesus Christ, Superstar? Well, the Scriptures do say that one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord. I think that in anyone’s estimation that must be the equivalent of ‘superstar’ status. But me? I prefer to think of Him as King Jesus, the lover of my soul.
My birthday is March 13th, but the day I really began to live was April 5, 1973. I will forever praise my Redeemer for entering the life of this wretched sinner.