Mindy was "running a hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction."
When I think of my life prior to my conversion, the lyrics of a song come to mind: “She is running a hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction, She is trying, but the canyons ever widening in the depths of her cold heart, So she sets out on another misadventure just to find, She’s another two years older and she’s three more steps behind.” That was me. I was running hard. My life seemed to be one mistake after another, always running, always resisting, and fighting.
In the fall of 1996 I was faced with a series of questions that changed my life. The pastor from the church we were attending asked me these simple questions: “Mindy, if you died tonight, where would you go? Heaven or hell? What would you say if you were facing the Creator of the Universe? Why should God allow you into His heaven?” I had no answer, because my life had been one disaster after another. I knew I wasn’t good enough to enter God’s kingdom. I’d broken every single one of God’s laws. I knew that. What I didn’t grasp was Jesus and the grace offered through His life, death, and resurrection.
When I obviously couldn’t answer the questions, the pastor insisted that I begin Bible study with his wife. Patiently, week after week, she’d lead me through the Bible and pray with me and for me. She kept talking about grace and how there wasn’t any sins that Jesus wouldn’t forgive if I believed in Him and repented. I’d list all of my sins and wait for her to finally say, “You’re right. You’re a mess, and there’s no way God could save someone like you.” That day never came. She’d sit and listen patiently, always reassuring me that Jesus was enough. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that Jesus could forgive me. I thought I needed to clean myself up, that I needed to do something, that I had to be good enough. I knew I had nothing to offer God except a broken life filled with sin.
Grace was an extremely difficult concept for me to grasp. I couldn’t understand how Jesus could forgive someone that had done so much damage, not just to myself but to those around me. Slowly I began to understand that Jesus was enough to cover my sins…every single one of them. I struggled with all the ways I’d sinned against a holy God, only to be met with grace each step of the way. It felt like every day I was met with more regret over past sins, sins I didn’t even realize were sins. My conversion wasn’t a Damascus Road conversion. It was subtle. It was gentle. That’s what makes God’s grace so amazing. The Lord truly meets us right where we are. I needed reassurance and a gentle, subtle calling. The Lord did that for me.
On the day of my conversion, the pastor’s wife asked me a question. She asked me what I would do if someone offered me a gift. I gave a series of responses. She would start over and rephrase the question. Like I said, I was making this way more complicated than it was. After I clearly wasn’t getting it, she said, “Mindy, if someone gives you a gift, the first thing you do is accept the gift.” That was my “aha moment”. I finally understood. I didn’t audibly respond, but she said she saw in me that I did understand. My countenance changed in that moment. I knew I was set free from the condemnation I knew I deserved. Jesus was enough. Jesus continues to be enough.
Over the years I’ve learned more and more how much I need Jesus. My life had and has been filled with so many mistakes and so many sins. Sometimes those things haunt me, and I have to remind myself of who I am in Jesus, a forgiven sinner that still daily relies on His grace, His perfect obedience and dying for me, being raised up conquering death on my behalf. Jesus kept the Law for me, a law I could not keep myself.
I stand before you today as a sinner saved by grace. Praise God that His salvation is not based on my works but on the finished work of Christ, because I was the woman at the well. I’ve been the mocker and the scoffer. It was my sins that nailed Him to the cross. He willingly died for me and paid the penalty for my sins. I’m guilty of breaking every one of God’s laws. If I had to stand on my own record, I clearly deserve the wrath of God. The good news of the gospel is that I don’t stand on my own record. Jesus wiped my slate clean and it’s through Him and by His Spirit that I can stand before you redeemed, washed and cleansed by the perfect obedience of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. By His wounds I’ve been healed.