Sunday, July 7, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me!

A story is told of a horse who was raised from a foal by a young boy. The two were inseparable. They would run and frolic in the pasture. They walked together through the fields and forests. The boy would use the young colt as a pillow and they watched clouds pass overhead and listened to the singing birds.

When storms came, the boy would be sure the colt was safe in the stable. His stall was always clean and stocked with fresh hay and bedding. He was fed fresh oats and other fine grains. As he grew, he became strong and fast, sure-footed and confident.

The boy would brush the colt every day, He would wrap his arms around the young horse's neck and hug him with great affection. As they walked, the boy's arm would sometimes drape across his back. One day, as they lay in a field of wild flowers, the boy sat on the colt's back. While it was a surprise, the colt did not flinch or jump. It just felt right, somehow. Later, as the young horse was being brushed, standing next to a wood fence, the boy slid onto his back. The horse walked around the pasture with the boy on his back. Somehow he knew that this was what he was made for. Later, his friend introduced a bridle, and then later yet, a saddle. The two spent long, wonderful days walking, trotting, running-- the boy riding on the colt's back as the young horse carried him with joy.

One day, the colt was out in the pasture with the other horses. The others got into a discussion where they were telling about their experiences in being "broke." One after one, they told of the drama of being roped and held down, while someone strapped on a tight saddle. Someone else forced a bit into their mouths. Then  while they were restrained, a man climbed into the saddle. Each  horse told of how they bucked and jumped and ran until, exhausted, they were forced to give in to the men on their backs. Then they told of weeks of training until they behaved as they should.

Finally, one of the other horses turned to the colt, and asked him to tell how he had been broken. The colt hung his head, and nothing to say. He had never been broken.

This is my story. For years, I tried to come up with my testimony of how I had been broken and converted to Christ. But that's not how it was for me. I don't know a day in my life when Jesus wasn't part of it. I have known him from as early as I can remember. My parents each had their days of conversion, but I never did. They gave me to Jesus from the day I was born. He and I walked and talked together everywhere, every day. Oh, I could mark a date when I formally declared my faith in Him, and was baptized. But there was no need to ask him into my heart. He was already there. Always had been.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19.14)

I finally realized that my testimony is the greatest of all. No gut-wrenching sorrow drove me to Christ. He has always been in my life. I've sinned. I've strayed. I've made mistakes. I'm a man, after all. And I've been the one after God's own heart, in that I hunt for and pursue after knowing the heart of God. But I have never known a time when I was without Jesus Christ in my life. And as a bonus, I know exactly what Jesus meant when he said that the kingdom "belongs to such as these." My faith in Jesus is "just because." No other reason. Nothing else worth having faith in.

Today is my birthday, and happy birthday to me! For I was given the greatest birthday present of all on the day I was born. Jesus Christ.

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