It was 22 years ago, March 15th 1997. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was sitting in my dorm room Radford University. I was on the 8th floor. The building had over 1000 residents. I may have been about the only one in there that Saturday night. Everyone else was out doing what college students do on a Saturday night. For me, I’d had enough of that. In fact I’d had enough of everything. I had tried everything and nothing helped.
Life was hopeless. I had spend the better part of the past 3 years drinking daily and smoking pot. That didn’t numb the pain. It didn’t help the hopeless feeling I had. A good friend suggested I try something I hadn’t tried yet. He said I should read my Bible. I thought I’d give it a shot…after all, I’d tried everything else. I asked him if I should start at the beginning. He said it’d be best to start in the New Testament, in Matthew. So I did. I told my roommate that I wasn’t going out that night, I was staying in. He asked if I was ok, I assured him I was fine.
There I was all alone in that dorm room. The radiator was blasting out heat, I had the window raised to help balance the temperature. Cold air blew in over the heat. In the midst of the hot and cold air, I found I had read to chapter 16 in the book of Matthew. In that chapter Jesus said the following words, “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet lose his own soul?” I couldn’t read any further. I couldn’t get beyond those words. I had to stop and answer this question.
What’s more, I was a Business Major. I was studying economics and accounting. Jesus was speaking my language. Profit and loss. You have a profit when the amount earned is greater than the amount spent. Jesus wasn’t really asking a question. He knew the answer. The answer is in the question…in God’s economy, there is no profit when you have the whole world but lose your soul. In other words, to God – the Creator of all things- my soul is of more value than EVERYTHING in the world. It finally made sense. I had always believed that Jesus Christ died on a cross and rose from the grave. Now, it finally made sense. He did that because my soul is more valuable than the whole world. The trouble was that I didn’t think my soul had any value. I certainly didn’t live like it had value.
I prayed that night and asked God to forgive me for living for myself instead of living as He would have me. I understood for the first time that God loved me. I understood that He loved me so much that He sent His Son to die on the cross for me. I understood one more thing. I knew that if God gave me what I deserved, He’d kill me on the spot and I’d spend eternity separated from Him. That makes sense. I lived like I didn’t want Him, so He would allow me to spend eternity without Him…giving me what I wanted! However, the fact that He didn’t kill me on the spot meant that he had shown mercy and grace to me. Every day of life that He gave me is an expression of His grace and mercy to me. I told Him that I wanted to live every day for Him. It made sense. He gave me my life, so it really belongs to Him.
I didn’t know then that I was expressing Romans 12:1-2, “therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
I understood that God had a plan for my life. A “will” for me. Starting that night, I wanted to know what it was. I kept reading my Bible. I stayed up very late that night reading and praying. I couldn’t wait to get to church at the first opportunity. I wanted to be around other people who had come to understand these truths about God and about themselves.
That was 22 years ago. Jesus uses the phrase “born again.” That’s what happened to me. I was born again March 15, 1997. Have you been born again? Whether you feel like it or not, your soul is more valuable to God than EVERYTHING in this world. He loves you. He offers forgiveness for sins. He pours out grace and mercy to all who call on Him.