At 14, I was a disgruntled church-goer. I went because it was one of Mom’s compulsories. As young as 5, I couldn’t wait for Sunday School to end. By the time I was a teenager my dislike for church was in full throttle. I sat with ears closed impatient for the benediction.
Two months before my fifteenth birthday, a young couple came to pastor our shabby little church. (The people weren’t shabby, only the building.) My cousin, who loved church almost as much as I hated it, asked me to go to a Sunday evening service, something I’d never done. Since we were joined at the hip, I went. The sermon went in one ear and out the other. Afterwards, the pastor invited the congregation to join him in the prayer room. Everyone filed out of the pews and downstairs to a squat little room with wooden benches. I went because not going would’ve drawn attention to myself.
On my knees at a bench, the pastor’s wife, a 22 year-old newly-wed, came and knelt beside me. Her name was Bev Friesen. She whispered, “Would you like to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior?”
I said, “Yes” because I knew it was the right answer. I repeated after her a simple prayer. The meeting soon ended and I went home. When I opened my eyes the next morning, something stirred in my chest. I felt new inside, as if I was breathing different air than I had the day before. On the way to school, everything around me seemed re-born – sky, grass, sounds. Over the next few days, people I hadn’t much cared for became loveable. I’d stepped into a fresh world.
My attitude toward church changed. I, who had no use for Sunday School, became a diligent teacher of a young class. By praying a simple prayer to receive Jesus as my Savior, I experienced a spiritual birth.
One night a rabbi, Nicodemus, came secretly to Jesus to ask what he thought were deep questions. Jesus answered him, “You must be born again.” A simple answer for a scholar who didn’t want his colleagues to see him conversing with Jesus.
Nicodemus remembered Jesus’ words. After the crucifixion, he became a daylight disciple. Along with Joseph of Arimathea, another night follower, he went to Pilate and requested Jesus’ body. They lovingly wrapped it and laid it in a new tomb. Like me, Nicodemus was born again.
This Easter, as I ponder my youthful transformation, I still feel awed by Jesus, still see the world through His eyes. Two thousand years after his death and resurection, Jesus is still birthing people into His kingdom. Have you experienced spiritual birth?
The young pastor’s wife led me in a prayer that went something like this:
Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Savior of the whole world and that no one can experience spiritual birth except through you. I invite you into my life today.