Do you ever think you’re too far gone for God to care about you?
That you’ve done things too horrible for him to accept you? Do you think you’ve ruined your life forever, and there’s no way home, no way out?
This was the story of my life up until a few months ago.
When Love Moved First
I was raised in a Christian home, and I had prayed for Jesus to come into my heart when I was around five years old. But I didn’t really understand the message. Instead of living for Christ and making him the center of my life, I lived the same way everyone else did.
Years passed, and I probably would have continued down that broken road for years more if God hadn’t intervened… if love hadn’t moved first.
In December 2019, I attended The Teen Leadership Conference (TLC). This year’s theme was Transformed. What I didn’t realize was how it would change—transform—my life.
I was only 13-and-a-half, and TLC’s age limit is 14 minimum. Despite this, my church let me go anyway. So before I knew it, I found myself munching on cheez-it’s in a rental van motoring across Washington and Oregon.
The camp was located inside a dry valley surrounded by orange mesa rock.
The first day two days passed uneventfully, filled with orientation, and workshops, and archery tag. But the second day was what really changed me.
The message that night was certainly not the most exceptional, nor the most convicting passage. But it went right to my heart, telling me that I needed to turn my life around, now.
Only One Someone
The message was from Second Chronicles, about how Hezekiah cleansed the Temple from all the impurities and idols that the evil kings had put there before they had been overthrown. The Temple was so dirty and defiled that it had to be physically cleaned out for months. This story went deep into my mind, and all the events at the conference came together and hit me.
“My mind is just like the Temple,” I thought. “Our bodies are supposed to be temples of the Holy Spirit, but mine is filthy and dirty, like the one Hezekiah cleaned out. I’m so dirty that no one can clean it!”
Then I realized something.
“No. That’s wrong. Someone can clean it. Only one Someone.”
Jesus. Jesus Christ.
The message ended, and the speaker stepped off the stage for the band, and they started out with another hammer blow that struck my heart, derailing it off its sinful track. The song they picked? This Is Amazing Grace.
It was perfect for the moment. I realized that Jesus had sacrificed himself for me, and I was doing nothing for him. I was being a stupid, sinful idiot, going through the motions of faith but being just like everyone else inside. I had never been surer of anything else in my life.
I’m sinful, but Jesus can fix that.
This simple message impacted me so hard I almost burst into tears standing in the rows. In that moment I knew what to do. I didn’t do the normal thing, kneeling and folding my hands. I just sent up a silent message to God:
God, I’m so sorry. I don’t ever want to be the person I am again. If you’ll just take this away, I’ll serve you forever. Please!
I tried not to show it, but tears leaked from the corners of my eyes as the band switched to another song perfect for the moment: Who You Say I Am. Guess what a line of the chorus said?
“I’m a child of God, yes I am!”
In that moment, I knew God was real, and he had accepted my plea to become part of his family.
Transformed Heart, Transformed Life
Since TLC, normal life has resumed… except it’s not really normal compared to the way I used to live. I’m a transformed person now.
But the best thing is, this transformed life can happen to you, too.
Anyone who realizes the depth of their sin and asks Jesus to forgive them, and truly means it, will be welcomed into God’s family. There are no limits on who can do this, either—you don’t have to be someone special, or have to do something to earn it. This gift is so priceless that no one could ever earn it.
Before TLC, I didn’t realize how much I needed Jesus. I had blindly assumed faith since I was in a Christian family and I thought I was a good person. But I wasn’t really living for Christ. Sadly, so many people live like that. They think they’re good enough and miss out on truly accepting the incredible grace of God. They miss out on a transformed life, because they’re content with the life they already have. After TLC, I felt new. I felt like a changed person, and in that moment I knew what Jesus meant when he said those who accept him are “born again.” I felt like I had just restarted my life from scratch, except with God as the head this time. It was the best thing ever.
I walked away with one thing in my mind:
I’ve received Christ. Now I’m going to live for him.
If you’re simply coasting by, if you haven’t accepted Jesus’ free gift and truly allowed him to transform you, you can do it now. You don’t have to have a perfect prayer ready. You can just tell God you’re sorry and ask him to forgive you, and he will. He promised in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
That’s an eternal promise that will stand forever. That’s a transformed life, just a choice away. So if you haven’t taken the gift yet, what are you waiting for?
You’re just one step away.