Nearly every personal testimony I have heard shows that conversion is a journey to faith.
It often starts with a restlessness that begins in the human heart (which I call spiritual thirst).
That begins a process of faith awakening that may take a few days, or it may take a few years.
Becoming a Christian is not an “on/off” proposition.
It is often the culmination of journey the is guided by the Lord, and influenced by different people the Lord will use.
Sometimes the Lord will use us to influence a person’s journey to faith, but it might be years before we know about it.
To me, this is part of the mystery of the conversion journey.
A young man’s journey to faith
Just before I graduated from college, a young Jewish student approached me at the dining hall table.
He sat down next to me. This was not unusual as we had occasionally dined together before.
It was what he said that surprised me.
Chris, I want to thank you. It is because of you that I’m a Christian.
Every now and then, he would come to our Christian campus organization.
He would also sit with us occasionally at mealtimes. He often had conversations about his faith and our faith. I never really saw a genuine interest in Christianity.
I had never talked with him about anything related to my faith in Christ other than the casual conversation about our heritage in the Old Testament.
Where his journey started
Seeing the puzzled look in my face, he continues,
“Chris, do you remember three years ago when you were praying in the chapel?”
A memory rose to the surface.
Our Christian campus ministry hosted a prayer vigil in the campus chapel, a giant 3-story Gothic building with stained glass windows.
It was a 24-hour prayer vigil. I had the 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. shift all to myself since nobody else signed for it.
Praying out loud while alone
To help me stay awake I got pretty loud in my prayer style.
I walked the sanctuary all by myself.
I prayed in a manner that is rather unusual for me: Shouting, walking, and being a little excessively exuberant.
Normally I pray quietly. Sometimes I don’t even pray out loud.
For me to be exuberant and shouting and hollering and just carrying on was the fruit of being alone, by myself, in this giant church building.
A secret visitor
Unknown to me, this young Jewish man has sneaked in the back door. He remained out of sight, eavesdropping.
At 2:00 in the morning, he had a sense of restlessness in his heart that
- got him out of his room,
- propelled him to walk to the chapel and
- sit in the shadows of a darkened sanctuary
I did not know that he was there.
I’m praying with passion. I’m looking down at the floor, then the ceiling, walking and praying,
“Lord, you know, you have a love for the people on this campus.
I’m praying that you would use us to reach them.
Bless the Baptist student ministry and bless the University ministry and bless the Catholic ministry and help the Presbyterians and help everybody who are just trying to reach people for Jesus, and….
Thank you for loving me. Thank you for changing me. Thank you for…”
It was an intense prayer, maybe assisted by a little boost of caffeine from the soda I had.
But in the back corner of the chapel, in the dark, sat this young Jewish man with a restlessness in his heart, observing a Christian who had a relationship with God.
His journey starts: Others water
God used that moment to speak to that young man in the back corner of the chapel.
That increased within him a desire to know this God.
He was doing rituals as part of his faith, but he felt like it was missing a vitality to it.
That restlessness started him on a journey where he was secretly asking other people,
- Who is Jesus?
- What did Jesus do?
- Why do I have this yearning for God?
I don’t know what all the questions were.
The end result of this young many being in the chapel at 2:00 in the morning listening to me pray:
Within the next two/three years, he surrendered his life to Christ and is now walking in faith and following Jesus.
God takes the seed and gives the increase
God is the one who is writing the story.
We may not know all the parts in which we play.
I didn’t know the part I played until that man came back to me and told me.
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