I was fortunate to grow up in a Christian home with parents who nurtured my faith, answered my questions, located churches in our many stations along my dad’s military career, and ultimately sent me to a Christian college.
Perhaps I was sheltered — I didn’t have a lot of doubts about my faith. I trusted God’s Word. I let it and my faith in its truth ground me through the tumultuous junior high and high school years. I know that looking into God’s Word and understanding the depth and breadth of my faith kept me from decisions that would have negatively impacted my life. I trusted its promises, knowing that I was a child of God, saved by my Savior.
Somewhere during high school I got a copy of a New Testament in the brand-new Living Bible paraphrase called Blueprint for Living! (complete with exclamation point!). When I was freed from my King James Version and could read Scripture in words I understood, God’s words to me began to make sense, the promises came alive, Jesus became more real.
Was I still confused sometimes? Of course. Do I now, 44 years later, understand the Bible completely? Of course not. But I understood the power of the book in my hands and how it had changed the world and could change me. In the words I had underlined in this very Bible comes an invitation I love to this day:
For whatever God says to us is full of living power: it is sharper than the sharpest dagger, cutting swift and deep into our innermost thoughts and desires with all their parts, exposing us for what we really are.
He knows about everyone, everywhere. Everything about us is bare and wide open to the all-seeing eyes of our living God.; nothing can be hidden from Him to whom we must explain all that we have done.
But Jesus the Son of God is our great High Priest who has gone to heaven itself to help us; therefore let us never stop trusting Him.
This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses since He had the same temptations we do , though He never once gave way to them and sinned.
So let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive His mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need.
–Hebrews 4:12-16, The Living Bible
The gold Eurofest ’75 sticker on the inside was from a youth conference I attended in the summer of 1975, just before my senior year of high school, with thousands of Christians from all over Europe. Held in Brussels, Belgium, this event gave me Billy Graham speaking in the evenings and Luis Palau in the mornings, with small group meetings of students in between. In the front of my notebook I wrote the names of the people in my group: Manima from Portugal; Katie from Colerhine, Northern Ireland; Richard from Bangor, Northern Ireland; and Janelle from Peoria, Illinois; plus me, who had traveled from Bonn, Germany.
This conference also gave me the moment that I understood that Jesus had to make a difference in every aspect of my life. He needed to be not just my Savior but also my Lord. As I sat in the stadium with thousands of Christian high schoolers from all over the world (in the section where the translators gave us English; everyone had to sit in a designated area where they could hear the speakers’ words translated in their languages), I understood and fully committed myself to following Him.
The letter in the front of our notebook explains the purpose of the conference: “God’s master plan for our lives is to become like Jesus.” This is still the master plan for my life. And in my imperfect way, I awaken every day hoping to honor Him.
So there’s my testimony. It’s not earth-shattering. Perhaps it sounds lame to some. Maybe people see me as deluded in my simple faith in God’s Word. Yet it is what it is. This is me. Simple faith, yet the outworking is incredibly complex in our broken world. More thinking on that in coming weeks.
In the meantime, my little Blueprint for Living! has been just that for me. I’ve moved on to different translations and study Bibles, but this book has been a blueprint for building a life that I hope honors my Lord. Every day I need to go “boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive His mercy and to find grace to help me in my times of need.”
Share your faith story with me. When did Scripture come alive for you?