Story from Seeds Missionary Josh Houser
Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
This was going to be a different year. It was the first day of 7th grade. Last year I was always thinking about how to fit in, how to make others like me, and how to look good. I was still thinking about that way too much, but this day was going to be a game-changer because I had a new outfit. It was a bright yellow Swatch-Watch branded outfit with a big white stripe down the middle. Everything matched, the pants were tight, and I knew I looked good. I spent almost my entire clothes budget for the year on this outfit, but it would be worth it. I was going to make a splash.
I was right about one thing. I would make a splash.
I walked in the front door of school, and the exact opposite of everything I desired happened. I have never been made fun of more in my life. I looked like a split banana, and everyone let me know about it. All my friends were wearing jeans and t-shirts like normal people, and here I was in lemon yellow man-tights. What was supposed to be the best day of my life turned into the worst, and I never wore that outfit again.
I still shake my head and wonder, how did I not see that coming? That outfit really did look ridiculous. The problem was that I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t have a strong sense of personal identity. I didn’t have a relationship with God, so I was always trying to find ways to get people to like me, no matter the cost. This led me to do things that I knew were wrong, things worse than fashion blunders. I was trying so hard to fit in with the other kids, to find significance and meaning through the approval of people.
Hard to believe, but things got worse that year. My grades dropped, I was lonely, felt empty inside, even around other people. I was in a bad place and did not know where to turn; there had to be something more to life.
One day I met some Christian guys at school. I thought they were a little weird, but they had something I didn’t— JOY! Strangely, when I was around them, I wanted to be like them.
Fast forward to high school where I made another Christian friend. He was constantly telling me about Jesus and the new life that He had for me. Although I was still sad inside and needed Jesus, I thought I had to clean myself up before Jesus would accept me and did not see how that could be possible. I felt like a mouse stuck in a trap.
These same friends invited me to a Christian camp. On the first night of camp, the speaker talked about Ephesians 2:8. He explained that the way we are saved is not by OURSELVES; it is the GIFT OF GOD! I was so excited when I found out that I did not have to clean myself up. I needed to give my heart to Jesus and let Him clean me up. He had new life for me. I only needed to accept the gift of God and put my faith in Jesus.
That is what I did; I received the gift that Jesus had for me. All of the bad things I did were forgiven because of what Jesus did for me on the cross. That was the most amazing night of my life. I cried so hard as I received His love and forgiveness, and my life has never been the same. I no longer crave the approval of others, but, just to be safe, I mostly stick to wearing jeans and t-shirts.
- When I was young, what did I spend my time thinking about?
- What did the Christian kids have that I did not?
God, thank you for saving us. Thank you for giving us this gift of salvation and that we don’t have to earn it. Help us not to be caught up doing things just to get people to like us. Help us to learn that our identity is rooted in you. We want to live out that genuine identity every day.