When you're ready to take your first step toward God...


This little article is for those, who for one reason or another, feel ready to take their first step toward God, and its simple purpose is to give you some "fellow traveler's advice" about this step and this journey...There are no arguments here for the existence of God or for the basic reliability of the Bible or for the uniqueness of this message--these can be found at www.Christian-thinktank.com. This is rather for those who have somehow arrived at an overall sense that there is a God who is worth approaching...
 
 
 

People come to this "I think I am ready" step for many, many different reasons...


Many of us, of course, come with more than one of the above, and often these various elements have come in and out of our lives like the strains in a tapestry, bringing us to this point.
 
 

...But so much of our mind-set is similar among us at this point:

So, what does this message in the Bible tell us about how God sees this?
Probably the clearest expression comes from the lips of Jesus himself:
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10.45)
 
And this was an allusion to something said by a prophet in the Bible centuries earlier, who foretold of Jesus:
  "All we, like sheep, have wandered away from our Good Shepherd; we have each acted selfishly on the basis of 'convenient morals' of our own choosing at times, and the Lord God has transferred to Him (the foretold One) these moral failures and these destructive acts...He (the Foretold One) deliberately accepted responsibility and the just consequences for our moral crimes, both large and small, and He appealed to God on our behalf." (Isaiah 53.6,12b expanded paraphrase)
 
Purely and simply, what this means for you at this point is that Jesus became a 'substitute' for you, standing in your place before God for the moral wrong you have done in your life (and bearing the spiritual consequences of that for you), and then clearing the way to God for you. This removes the obstacles to approaching God. The judicial issues were resolved by Christ's self-sacrifice to God on the Cross. His moral integrity insured that it was acceptable to God, and his incredible love insured that you were included its scope. [Jesus' body did not stay in the grave, but was transformed into a more advanced one, and He lives today in the spiritual dimension called 'heaven', and interacts with us from there.]

One very practical (and for many of us, comforting) implication of this is that our past is no longer an issue with Him...The issue now is whether you will agree with Him about this act of love by His Son Jesus...


 

So, where do you go from here?

If our past is no longer an issue, then what is?

Nothing.

Literally nothing stands between you and Jesus Christ.

Access to the Father is through Him:

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14.6) And welcoming Him into your life as the answer for your past, and as a kind mentor, intimate friend, and wise director concerning your future, creates a permanent and intimate relationship with the God of the universe: Yet to all who welcomed Him for who He was, to those who trusted His credentials, character, and achievements, He gave the right to become children of God (John 1.12) The Father wants us to simply trust His Son...to depend on Him for our ultimate well-being in the future, to trust in His work on the Cross for our past, to be open to His good-hearted and wise input in our present...to respect His authority, to count on His forgiveness, and to relax in His warm-hearted acceptance of us... The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever trusts in the Son enters into a relationship with God that lasts forever and is characterized by wellness, growth, love, and loyalty, but whoever rejects the Son will not experience this at all..." (John 3.35f)



And so, the "First step" is simply a heart-to-heart with Jesus...
The simple beauty of the awesome work of Jesus on the Cross is that your step toward God can be so "un-awesome"...a simple opening your life up to Jesus in confidence of His goodness and His efforts on your behalf...

A simple admission to Him (heart-to-heart) of welcome and confidence is all it takes:

"Jesus, I don't understand all of the depths of this now, but it IS clear to me that you love me, that you were my substitute on the Cross, that you cleared the way to spiritual life for me, and that you are willing to take an active, intimate, and gentle role in my life going forward. In recognition of your proven love for me, and of your authority and power evidenced in your words, in your life, and in your resurrection, I welcome you into my life. I trust your abilities and your love for me to help me with my future. Thank you for what you have done and for Who you are. And guide me to realize what I can do now to begin seeing progress in the areas of dysfunction, insensitivity, or difficulty in my life." That's it. That's the first (and only) step to God...You can't skip that one, for every exploration of this new relationship with Christ is based on this simple act of trust and this simple recognition of His smiling and warm love for you...Look at the paragraph above a couple of times, and then simply read it to Him aloud...or say it in your own words to Him in quietness...but go ahead and take that step, friend...[I'll wait for you here...(smile)]
 
 
 
Did you hear the explosion or see the fireworks when you took that step?!
Probably not.

[If you didn't take the step, go back to the previous topic... (smile).]

Some people do, though. Some have emotional sensations of guilt-release. Some feel a sense of un-burdening. Some sense a loss of appetite for an addiction. A few get the giggles. Some get a new sense of internal strength for a challenge they are facing. Quite a number feel nothing, but sense somehow that something has changed...They cannot put their finger on that intuition, but they sense something is different.

But most 'feel' nothing, to the extent that many think "It didn't take hold", like it was a vaccination or something! Some doubt that they were 'sincere enough' and they repeat the paragraph out loud over and over (never realizing that their sincerity was probably obvious to God from their repeated attempts!).

But this first step is not an emotional transaction--it is the establishment of a personal relationship with the living God. [We normally don't want to just "feel better"--we want to actually "GET better"!] And, as with many personal relationships, it takes time and interaction and shared experiences to grow the emotional consequences of a relationship. So don't let a "I didn't feel anything" lead you to make the illogical jump to "therefore, nothing happened" or "therefore, God did not pay attention" or "therefore, God did not accept me"...Believe me, the God who went to the painful lengths of the Cross will not let your step toward Him be ineffective...


 

Hey, I did feel something, but it was negative!

That's pretty normal.

As soon as you take this step, your whole person gets involved--and I do mean your "whole" person! Part of our human condition is that we have conflicting tendencies within us. For example, when you make a tough moral choice, part of you says 'good job', part of you says 'you idiot', part of you says 'you could have done better', part of you says 'you should have waited', etc.

It's no different with this choice...You can expect the "you finally became insane", the "you just became a brainless religious fanatic", the "this story simply cannot be true", and the "you need to think this over a bit more carefully"...etc., etc., etc. Don't take the mixed responses of the "peanut gallery" too seriously. If you came to this personal decision with a sense that you were doing the right thing, leave it at that. The reasons you arrived at the "I think I am ready" step (above) are still just as valid as they were when you began this process....


 

So, now that I have taken that step, what's next?

I might suggest four things:

1. Relax in the freedom of knowing you are welcome with God and can draw upon His resources and wisdom as His child;

2. Reflect upon the fact that the step you just took will have deep and positive consequences for the rest of your life...

3. And obviously, read the "What's Next?" article (www.Christian-thinktank.com/whatnext.html).

4. Start looking for small changes in attitudes, situations, insights, relationships, perspectives, values...they will come.

 
And, friend, I will see you There someday...because I myself took this same step myself some 30 years ago...

Glenn Miller, August 1999.


The Christian ThinkTank...[http://www.Christian-thinktank.com] (Reference Abbreviations)