Today marks an anniversary for me, one that many would argue is the most significant of my life. And I would not disagree.
Although I can never remember not going to church as a boy, it wasn't until I was ten that the purpose for Christ coming to be a man, live a perfect life, die an unjust death by crucifixion and then rise from the dead "clicked" within me. I could tell you many Bible stories, and sing you many songs about the love of God. And I was a pretty good kid. But not until I was ten did it impact me personally.
I don't remember everything the pastor of the little Baptist church preached. But I do remember his sermons about the return of Christ, especially Jesus' comparison of that event to the ark and Noah. One day, Pastor Kirk told us, God would close the door and it would be too late to get in.
I didn't want to be left out. And while I knew as much about the Bible as a young boy could know, I had never by faith put my eternity in Christ's hands. When the preacher asked us to raise our hands if we knew we were ready to meet the Lord should He come, I knew I could not and was not. And that bothered me enough that sometime that week, as best I knew how I believed in Jesus.
At our church the way you drove the stake of a decision like that into the ground was to "come forward" during the final song of the service, take the pastor's hand and tell him why you were brave enough to slip from your seat and in front of everyone "walk the aisle". So, during the week I worked up the courage - even told my mom what I was going to do - and as soon as the first stanza of whatever song it was began, I responded to the "invitation".
After spending a few minutes with a kind gentleman in the church back in the choir room, who made sure I understood my need for the Savior, I was brought back into the service and standing beside the pastor, introduced as a new believer in Christ. That day was July 31, 1966. Although I am sure it was earlier in the previous week when I believed, that's the day I look back to as when the stake was driven and my eternal destiny confirmed in my heart.
Three weeks later, in a mud-bottomed pond in a cemetery (I think the perfect setting for a death, burial and resurrection) I began the life of a disciple of Christ by obeying His command to be baptized.
Life for me began anew that summer. I didn't understand it all then, and certainly don't understand it all now. But I'm forever grateful that God opened my heart to grasp the Good News that God wanted me in His family, and that it was an easy decision to make.
If you haven't driven that stake yet, the Bible says that "today" is a great day to do so.