The Hour I First Believed
We sang Amazing Grace in church this week. A couple of lines struck me anew . . .
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
I believe the grace that “taught my heart to fear” is the reality that there is a God. In ‘the hour I first believed,’ God went from an idea to a personality. From an amorphous concept to a real entity I could talk to and who talked back. From a religious figure to a real Father. A Father who loved me AND a Father worthy of respect (‘fear’). That was huge for me.
I came to “the hour I first believed” out of desperation. Broken. Guilt-ridden. Lost. Alone. No idea where to turn nor who to turn to other than God. So I called out to Him, asked His forgiveness, asked Him to take over my will and make it His. I said “Okay God, it’s you and me from here on out. You and me.” I surrendered . . . He took my white flag and said, “Follow me.”
Looking back, I see how the second phrase resonated . . . ‘and grace my fears relieved.’ I was no longer afraid of what people thought. His love was overwhelming . . . how could I possibly be ashamed of Him? I went public with my faith and have been out there ever since.
But a bunch of people I know didn’t come to Christ like that. “I found Faith when I was between 7 and 8 years old and I never strayed far from it.” “It wasn’t that I was that ‘good’, but I always knew God loved me.” They can’t give you an “hour I first believed.” They seem to have ‘caught’ their faith somewhere along the way. There wasn’t disruption for them like there was for me. While I’m happy for them, I can’t resist challenging a little . . . only because I don’t want them (or you) to miss out on something valuable and important.
In Deuteronomy 8:2, the Israelites were challenged to “remember the whole way that the Lord has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing to know what was in your heart, whether you keep his commandments or not.” You can’t remember ‘the whole way’ without remembering where you started. It’s important to think back . . . to pinpoint the first time you remember when you feared the Lord . . . maybe the first time “grace my fears relieved.” You won’t be any less holy if that was when you were 18. Or 26. Or 45. Doesn’t matter. What matters is being able to remember “the whole way” and being able to tell the story of God and how your story fits.
No one is born a Christian. God doesn’t have any grandchildren so you didn’t gain faith in Jesus through your DNA. At some point, at some hour, you first believed. Spend some time this week tracing your faith story back as far as you can remember. Pay close attention to when you know you first believed. Be as specific as you can. Write down the story around that first memory. It doesn’t have to be spectacular . . . it just needs to be real. Determine your starting point so you can “remember the whole way the Lord has led you.” Commit to sharing your whole faith story with your family sometime between now and the end of the year.
Prayer – You told us to ‘number our days’. None of us knows how many we have left. Please meet anyone who reads this post and prays this prayer. Take them back and remind them of “the hour they first believed” and then give them the courage to share their story with their family while there is still time. In Jesus name. Amen.
Do you remember “the hour you first believed”?
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