Kristin thought she knew who Jesus was until a flight back from Israel showed her the truth.
Surely I will be able to connect with God in Israel! That was my first thought when I saw the promotions for NewSpring's 2012 Israel trip. I decided instantly that me and my husband had to go.
From the moment we had joined NewSpring, I had wondered why I wasn’t as passionate about Jesus as everyone I saw around me. Why didn’t I have the kind of joy that others seemed to have? Why didn’t I care about others like they did and why didn’t I have a salvation story like everyone else?
I thought I knew who Jesus was. I practically grew up in the church. My father was very involved in the church, which meant our family was very involved as well. I was baptized at an early age, read my Bible, and even prayed often. The truth was I never really expected my prayers to be answered or to hear God speak.
Earning His Love
I would try different things, thinking, “Maybe if I read my Bible more, I’ll find joy. Maybe if I start memorizing scripture, I will find passion. Maybe if I get more involved, I’ll start loving others.” However, nothing worked. I continued to feel like something was wrong with me. I felt like I was doing everything right, and I couldn’t understand why that didn’t seem to be enough.
On the flight to Israel, I sat beside a woman from the Charleston campus, Jennifer. Neither of us could get comfortable on the flight so we started talking. I found myself abnormally open with this complete stranger. Her story was one of faith and joy like I had so long envied. And over the course of the trip, God brought us together several more times, and we began to be friends.
On the flight back, I started praying, asking God why He wouldn’t speak to me like He spoke to others and why I couldn’t feel His presence or love.
I felt the urge to go talk to Jennifer, but I was in the window seat and didn’t want to climb over the people beside me. I was hesitant. I told God that if He would move the people sitting next to me, then I would go talk to her. Sure enough, the girl in the aisle seat got up, turned to me and the other lady and asked if we needed to get up. I hadn’t actually expected God to answer my prayer!
I told Jennifer how jealous I was of people with what I called “rock-bottom salvation stories.” I felt like this gave them a passion that I couldn’t understand because I wasn’t able to appreciate my salvation the way they could. I grew up in church and couldn’t even remember when I was saved. I believed I was a Christian because I knew that Jesus died for my sins and God was the creator of the universe but none of it impacted my life very much. It was just fact, but I could not remember ever surrendering my heart to Christ or acknowledging that I really needed Him.
So, as we were touching down in Atlanta - both of us in tears - Jennifer prayed with me. And I told Jesus that I didn't want to live with a dead heart anymore. Immediately, I felt a change! It was like my heart had melted. Joy, hope, love and peace that I had never felt before just washed over me!
The change was amazing! I clasped my chest and laughed and cried and said, "I never knew." I had no idea that the problem the whole time was that I hadn’t surrendered my life to Jesus. It’s ironic that the best part of my trip to Israel was my flight back home, but The Lord makes everything beautiful within his time, and I’m so thankful for His relentless pursuit.