A young woman named Heidi was invited to one of our church services. She was very hungry for some direction and fulfillment in her life. She had been raised in a church that had taught the biblical idea of born again through relationship with Jesus Christ, but she had never experienced it for herself. Since her early church and Christian experiences had not presented her with any lasting meaning, she wandered away from the church. Her wandering caused her to become mixed up in lifestyles and relationships that were unfulfilling and purposeless. That is why she was open to coming to church when someone invited her.
At the end of the service that day I told the people how to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ if they wanted to do that, and dismissed the service.
The next day Heidi was engaged in her usual routine, running several miles around a nearby reservoir. She was a tri-athlete and a gifted one at that. As she ran, while pondering her aimless life, she recalled my description of how to become a Christian. And this is what she said to herself as she ran.
“Chris said if I am honestly sorry for my sins and I surrender my life to Jesus and invite Him into my life to be my Lord and Savior, He will do that and I will become a Christian. If that’s all there is to it, then what do I have to lose? If nothing happens, I’ll be just as I am right now. If it works, it might be just what I need.”
So she did. As Heidi ran she said with as much sincerity as she could muster in a heavenward direction, “Jesus I am truly sorry for my sins. Please forgive me. I surrender my life to You and I invite You into my life to be my Lord and Savior.”
As soon as she said this, she began to feel a weight come off of her shoulders as she ran. A song popped into her head that she remembered from her Sunday school days as a child. She began to sing it though she couldn’t recall all of the words. But she repeated what she remembered over and over again.
“Every morning is Easter morning from now on. Every day is resurrection day the past is over and gone.”
As she sang she ran faster. And as she ran faster she felt lighter. She felt as though she was running about three feet above the ground. The faster she ran the louder she sang and tears of joy started pouring from her eyes as she did so. At a certain point she realized she was passing other runners who were running both ways, while she was singing and crying with all of her might. The thought came into her mind, “they must think I am nuts,” but decided she didn’t care.
And she sang all the louder, “EVERY MORNING IS EASTER MORNING FROM NOW ON. EVERY DAY IS RESURRECTION DAY THE PAST IS OVER AND GONE.”
At that moment she felt so clean…so forgiven…so accepted by God…so brand new…she didn’t want to stop.
Heidi was born again by the Spirit of God.
Jesus said in John 3:3, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
Some people feel it instantly as Heidi did. Some feel it the next day. Others feel it the next week or the next month or begin to feel it over time.
For some it feels like being warmed all over. Others feel cleaner inside than they have ever felt before. Still others can’t shut the tears of joy off…they cry and cry and cry because they are so happy.
Some decide at church. Some decide in other places, as Heidi did. Some say a prayer to receive Christ. Some simply cry out, “Take me Lord. I give up. I am now yours.” Some find themselves changing and come to a realization that they have crossed a line of faith in Christ at some point.
But for all who truly know Christ, something of a born again experience has happened to them at the point where they surrendered their lives to Him. The joy and feelings are from the Holy Spirit which the Bible also says takes up residence in us when we step over that line of faith (I Corinthians 3:16). Once inside us, His Spirit leads us into a life that feels His presence and lives His joy every single day.
Since Jesus said, “We cannot see the Kingdom of God without it” (John 3), we should all make certain we have experienced this spiritual phenomenon for ourselves. And then begin your ‘run for joy’!