He is Risen! New life! As the country says goodbye to the cold winter months and trees that appear lifeless, behold! New life bursts forth once again. Resurrection is in the air, and Easter is our time to celebrate a risen Jesus! But Easter can last all year!
When I was in my early teens I attended North Columbia Baptist Church in Columbia, MS. One Sunday I answered an altar call to receive salvation. Walking down the aisle, heart pounding, I prayed ‘that prayer’ with my pastor and knew if I died that day, I’d go to heaven.
A few weeks later during another altar call, I walked that very same aisle again. Same heart pounding experience, much of the same prayer, and the same sense of relief that my life was once again right with God.
Yet only a few short weeks later, I did it again. Down that aisle I walked. Those Altar calls were truly wreaking havoc on my young faith! Every time our pastor would offer, “This last stanza could be for you….” or, “We’re going to play that last verse one more time. Don’t wait, come forward, receive Jesus…” I just couldn’t not go. Such misinterpreted conviction would stir my soul every time. All I knew to do was walk the aisle again, so afraid of what could happen if I didn’t.
Finally my pastor pulled me aside, held my hands and looked straight into my eyes. “Beth, you don’t have to keep receiving Christ. Once he comes into your heart, you start a whole new journey. He walks with you now, living his life through you.” Wow. That was a lot to grasp! Though that took years to understand, deep down I accepted that He was with me. This time it was not because I felt guilt or shame and answered another altar call, but because I’d become His child.
I’d love to say from there my faith was solid and I grew in wisdom and knowledge. Quite the contrary! For years I wrestled with how that faith played out in my life, often walking away from God altogether. Every time I made a mess of my life, it was like another altar call. “Lord, it’s me. I’m back. Again.” Like before He received me, reminding me of His life in me, bringing me back to my knees in surrender to a Holy God who is also my loving Father.
Easter is like no other glorious day! An ongoing ‘altar call’ of sorts. A fresh start. Take that walk towards Christ. Receive salvation. Repent. Renew. Reinvigorate your faith by surrendering your life into His hands. Take it from me, once is enough! Yet change and growth are a daily process.
If all those years ago you would have told me I’d be in any kind of ministry, I’d have probably just laughed out loud. It’s still pretty funny. Yet He chose to use me despite my need for continual altar calls. Praise God now they are in my home and from my knees, but always lead me to the same place. He is risen indeed.