I recently drove to Oklahoma to visit my daughter, Anna, and son-in-law, Danilo. After several months of delays, disappointments, and searching, they were finally moving from their small apartment into a house and we were excited.
Anna’s friend, Alaina, and I were so blessed to be able to be there to help. When we arrived, we were surprised to see that Anna had already packed up a lot of their things and their living area was filled with boxes. As a result, Danilo had graciously reserved and paid for a nearby hotel room for us.
After twelve hours of driving, we were good and ready for a soft bed. Danilo told us we could sleep in and enjoy the continental breakfast the next morning.
Alaina and I woke up rested and headed downstairs to eat before the long day of moving. As we got on the elevator, we got a good whiff of the bacon and coffee. Once downstairs, as I reached for a plate, we were greeted by a smiling gentleman. He politely asked, Do you have a voucher? With a blank look on my face, No. I didn’t see one in our room. I then noticed the green “ticket” in the hands of those behind us in line.
I was embarrassed. It was humiliating. I could tell the people in line were getting annoyed at our conversation. As we walked away, I thought, But we didn’t know we needed a voucher! With the price Danilo paid for that room, why didn’t we have one? When we inquired at the desk, we learned that the meal tickets had to be purchased separately.
We walked away disappointed and hungry. I said, Alaina, we only missed a nice breakfast, but can you imagine what it would be like to stand before God one day and have your whole eternal destiny banking on whether you had “the right ticket” to get into heaven? In that moment Matthew 7:21-23 took on a whole new meaning.
If I had not had a personal experience with God, these verses would scare me crazy. Fortunately, my parents taught me about God and took me to church. I often heard verses from the Bible that told me the facts about my condition before God. I’d like to share some of those here.
For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved; for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9-10)
For WHOSOEVER shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:9)
By the time I was eight years old, I could quote most of those verses, but one night as the preacher was saying them, they came alive to me. They ceased to be just words and I knew God was singling me out and asking me to come to Him. My heart was heavy and I felt like I was carrying a 200 pound backpack.
The preacher said if anyone needed to make things right with God to come to the altar and repent. I didn’t want to do that! How embarrassing! I could talk to God at home. So at bedtime, I told God I knew I was a sinner, that I deserved hell, that I was sorry for my sin, and asked Him to forgive me. Guess what happened? Nothing! Absolutely, nothing. As serious as I was, I felt no different. I had no peace.
The next time I went to church and the preacher started reading the Bible, my heart started pounding, the weight of my sin was so heavy I could hardly bear it, but I held to my stubborn pride. I wanted to do it my way. This went on for months. As long as I wasn’t in church I was ok, but every time I heard the preaching, the conviction of my sin weighed me down. I began to dread church, but my parents made me go.
One night after the preacher had finished his message, I could not stand it any longer. I silently said, God, I have tried my best to come to You in private over and over again and nothing has worked. I know You want me to publicly come to You. I want relief. I’m tired of fighting You. I give up!
When I took the first step for the altar, that weight fell off my back! My heart became light and pure joy flooded my soul! I publically announced that I knew God had forgiven me and come into my heart to live. I wanted to go to heaven and be with Him right then…to thank Him for what He had done for me. I wanted to tell the whole world how God had washed my dirty heart and made it clean!
The Bible says anyone can call out to God at any time and in any place and God hears them, but, in my case, I needed to do it in church and I knew it. God will let each of us know what He requires of us. We must all come to God on His terms, not our own. My pride kept me from having a relationship with God. I wanted to do it MY way. That never works. We must want God more than anything or anybody else and totally yield our will to His, holding nothing back.
That experience is something I can remember as clearly as if it were yesterday. And during the hardest, darkest, and most loneliest times in my life, I think back to that experience and know my God is with me, loves me, and has a plan and purpose for my life. I won’t understand on this side of heaven why He kept chasing me when I tried so hard to run from Him, but I’m SO glad He did.
I know everyone’s experience is different, but I believe according to God’s Word, there are a few necessary components in everyone’s salvation.
- There is conviction of sin.
- There is belief that Jesus Christ is God’s Son and that He died and rose again.
- There is repentance.
- There is peace and joy.
When your time comes to meet God, will you have the “voucher” needed to get into heaven? It won’t matter how logical your plan seems to you. God will be calling the shots. It won’t help to claim ignorance. Just like at the breakfast bar, either you will have it or you won’t. It will be too late to make other arrangements. Your opportunities will have run out.
Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9) All it takes is one step in His direction and He will run to meet you.
Keep looking up,