I’ve written short stories, I’ve had a go at writing novels, but I’ve never thought of writing a whodunnit – but here I am, looking back at stuff that’s happened in my life, amazed at how it happened, and feeling that maybe it’s time to analyse the wow.
Because I’ve had people looking from the outside and trying to explain it, trying to put it into their own words, or asking me questions that I found impossible to answer because it’s just not how it happened…
Someone, for instance, once asked me: why did you get saved?
And I get what she meant by that question. I do. She was asking: what was your reason for taking that step? what convinced you? or maybe: what did you feel you could gain by it? when you prayed and accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, what made you do it?
And I could give some reasons, but none of them would be the real answer. Because the real answer is nothing to do with me, and everything to do with Jesus.
Each person who believes in Jesus has their own story of how it happened – how God brought them from darkness into light, from slavery to sin to freedom in Christ, from life without him to Life. Each person has their own journey, our starting point is different in terms of family background, culture, personality, life history, thoughts and feelings – we only have one thing in common: we were dead in our sins, and God in his mercy brought us to life in Christ.
Me, I was a secular Jewish agnostic with very strong anti-religious feelings, brought up in Israel by a devoutly atheist father and a mother who had some vague notion of faith in God – and when I say “vague” I mean seriously vague. At the age of 27 I came to England and, to my great surprise, met God. First through going to church, then through reading the Bible – God was drawing me to him, bit by bit. It was, in my case, a very gradual process. It took years till I was finally reborn of the Spirit, saved by God’s grace through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Years from the moment when I first walked into a church, not expecting anything, not seeking God, not even wondering about him – I was sure it was impossible to find out the truth about God (if he exists at all, which I wasn’t sure about) – years from that moment until the penny finally dropped and I got the point about Jesus being the Saviour of the world and about my need of salvation.
So on one level my answer to “why did you get saved?” is: because I realised I needed salvation and I understood that this is what Jesus died on the cross for.
But how did I realise? how did I come to understand?
I hadn’t gone looking. I hadn’t set out to study different religions and figure out, with my own finite human mind, which one is right. I hadn’t even tried to study the Bible and figure out what God is really like – though for anyone who feels a desire to study in their search for God, that’s exactly what I’d now recommend, because I now know that the Bible is how God reveals the truth to us. And he used the Bible to reveal the truth to me, over time – but it was him doing it, not me.
If this sounds strange, let me ask you this: you, reading this, were once a tiny baby, planted in your mother’s womb and growing in there until you emerged out of the womb and were born. How did you do that?
It’s the same with spiritual rebirth – we don’t do it ourselves, we can’t do it ourselves, we are simply recipients of God’s grace.
Why did I get saved? Because God.
God is the one who reached out to me when I was living a sinful life, when I didn’t even know he was there, when I didn’t even care about finding out – he reached out to me, started opening my eyes and revealing his truth to me, until he eventually helped me see that I was a sinner in need of salvation and that Jesus is the answer to that.
It is by grace I have been saved.