Riveted by the Word of God and captivated by Jesus
I became a born again Christian in the summer/fall of 1984. I give the precise time a little leeway because I can’t say exactly when it happened. I like to say that God caught me by surprise because I had no clue what was going on with me- all I knew is that my life was in transition and I was suddenly alive to the reality of Jesus and eternal things! This wasn’t like my previous ventures into astrology, astral projection, and psychic fairs. I knew that in some way I’d never be the same again- I was riveted by the Word of God and captivated by Jesus.
During that time of transition I would devour the bible; I read it morning, noon and night. I was like a great big sponge just trying to soak in as much as I could. I found Jesus in my bedroom, not in a church, so any outside influence would usually come through radio or TV. It might sound strange, but I never even really thought of going to church until many months after finding Jesus. By that time I’d already completely read the bible through twice. The more I read, the more I wanted!
During those days I was a clerk at Radio Shack. The mall where I worked was almost uninhabited and I’d often not have a customer for hours. Some days I might only have a couple customers for the whole day! I spent the time reading my bible and listening to radio preachers. After work I’d sometimes drive to a local dance club that I used to hang out at before becoming a Christian. I was gloriously free and not in the least bit legalistic. Whatever changes that were happening in my life were because I wanted them, not because somebody told me I couldn’t do this or that. So I’d drive to our local disco listening to radio preachers the whole way!
I’ll never forget one cold winter night sitting outside the bar watching the dance floor lights bounce around and light up the room while I sat in my car riveted by the Word of God that was coming through my radio. Most times the reception was not that great and I’d often lean into the dash trying to pick out the words from the crackling speaker as the AM signal went in and out of range. On that winter night I was tuned into Charles Stanley, one of my favorite radio preachers. He had a program called InTouch and I couldn’t get enough of it. I still remember the teaching series he was going through that night- “Advancing Through Adversity”. As the lights continued to flicker and the music rumbled in the bar I listened to Charles Stanley as he taught about the life of the Apostle Paul and the adversity Paul went through; and how God used it all to bring about His glorious ends. I was captivated! Riveted by the Word of God! I couldn’t move from that place until I heard the whole thing. After the broadcast was over I looked over at the bar and it’s bright lights doing patterns on the dance floor, turned on my car, and drove away. I was done- I didn’t want it anymore.
Now you have to understand, I’m not one of those Christians who believes dancing is sinful. I didn’t think that way then, and I still don’t. It went much deeper than that: I had been riveted by the Word of God, captivated by a life that was so much more than what I was living. The whole bar scene just seemed empty compared to what I saw in front of me portrayed in the pages of God’s Word. He had something better, and I wanted it! So I said goodbye to one thing and opened the door to another. It wasn’t hard to do, and nobody told me it was something I had to do- I just drove off, sure that God had something more for me than what I’d been living.
When Jesus captivates your heart, everything changes… it’s really that simple. And so I was beginning a journey with Him, a journey that would turn out to be the best move I’d ever made: Not simply leaving the bar… choosing Jesus. What happened that night, is that in one small area of my life I decided to choose Jesus. I did it simply because the vision of who He is, and what He has for me, filled my heart and mind.
Twenty six years later I’m still choosing Jesus for the same reasons: The Word of God captivates me, rivets me- opens my eyes to who He is and what He has for my life, and I can suddenly see! Not that I’ve been perfect these 26 years; far from it. If anything, I wonder why He ever came into my life and showed me mercy in the first place. The years I’ve been a Christian haven’t proved that I was somehow worthy to be His. Quite to the contrary! All the years have done is make me wonder more at His grace and love- you’re not going to find me bragging about how good I am. I’m at His feet just as I was 26 years ago, seeking forgiveness- more aware than I’ve ever been at my need of Him and what He’s done for all of us at the cross.
And I’m still riveted.
Yesterday I drove up to our apartment parking lot and couldn’t get out of the car. It was my radio again! I’m still stunned, still amazed by the Word of God and the things I find in it. I see things in it, and hear things from it, that stop me in my tracks- just makes me sit there and go “Whew! That’s God’s Word!” It’s always new no matter how many times you’ve read it. It’s always got something to say directly to me. It can stop me short, cut me to the heart, and blow away all my excuses; it can comfort me in it’s next breath. It never ceases to amaze me, and never fails to reveal my amazing Savior, Jesus Christ.