My parents grew up attending church services on Christmas and Easter; and perhaps, their parents had a Bible tucked away somewhere in the house. I grew up in the same routine: holiday church services, twice a year—until my family moved when I was seven years old. I soon became best friends with the little girls next door and their family. They were the first people to tell me the whole story of Jesus, and I grew up going to church with them while my own family stayed home. A yearning to know Jesus had been awakened inside me.
At twelve, we moved again. My parents had grown curious about God, so we found a church and began attending together almost every Sunday. For the next six years, I was also active in the youth group; but something was missing. I thought that going to church and trying to do the right thing made someone a Christian. I spent the rest of my teenage years trying to be good enough for God. If I read my Bible, I thought God liked me more. If I missed church, I figured God was a little mad at me. And if I lied, cheated, or worse, I was definitely in some cosmic trouble.
When I went to college, I heard the beautiful gospel of Jesus as I had never heard it before. I understood that Jesus wanted a real relationship with me, not the cleaned-up version of me, but the messy, right-where-I-am, broken and needy me. I deserved to die on the cross, but Jesus lovingly took my place. Now, he wanted me to stop working to earn God’s love and to see that God already loved me. Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good; he came to make dead people alive. Jesus was offering me the gift of life. All I had to do was to put my faith in him, to reach out, and to take his hands. So I did.
Katy Barclay, 24, is living in North Carolina, where she and her husband work for Young Life to share the good news of Jesus with kids who don’t know him.
MARCH 26, 2017
NEXT DAY STRETCH
Understanding how much Jesus loved me was not only freeing; it completely changed my life. Living a Christian life used to feel like a chore, something I had to do in order to receive a reward. But being a Christian isn’t about rules; it’s about relationship, an active and living relationship with Jesus. I began spending time with God, the same way I would with a friend. I talked to God, and I listened. I discovered that God had written me a love letter, the Bible; and I began to adore its words. I sought out mentors, older women who had been walking with Jesus for a long time; and I asked them to tell me everything they had learned. I found a church where the gospel came alive and a community of people who were seeking the same kind of life I was. My friends and I pointed one another back to Jesus and supported one another as we began to tell the good news of Jesus to people trying to live without him.
Who will you invite to walk alongside you on the journey of faith? Pray and ask God to help you discover all that a relationship with the Lord can be.