By Doug Snyder
Looking out the window as I write, it was a very similar day 45 years ago.
Late summer 1973. Warm and sunny, mid-afternoon. I was standing at the corner of Clark & J Street, near the tank, facing the Courthouse. I was 9 and had recently given my life to Jesus.
Our church was participating in Key ’73, a national outreach campaign initiated by the United Methodist Church of America. Churches across America voluntarily participated in outreach and evangelism, in their own way, for the entire year. Midweek spaghetti dinners, guest speakers, guest musicians, week long crusades were among the long list of planned activities.
One Sunday evening, I surrendered my life to Christ. It was simple, childlike really. Earlier that week I had defied parental authority by refusing to gather and bring the garbage out. The tension resulted in a rift in the relationship with my parents.
Enter God’s grace. The Holy Spirit’s gentle nudge, through the evangelist’s preaching (John 3:16-17), both burdened and freed my heart. I was burdened by awareness of my sinful nature for the first time. Cognizant my heart was stubborn and my thoughts were rebellious.
Sin and separation is not the way God designed life. The only answer is Jesus Christ. His sacrifice on the cross, satisfying sin’s debt. Freedom comes by befriending Jesus, surrendering to love, and receiving his forgiveness offer. God and I were reconciled. My burden was forever lifted. My heart forever freed.
Enter God’s gifts. Holy Spirit came, sealed salvation, brought peace, bestowed gifts, and empowered what I was unable to do on my own, experience deep joy and rest.
One very specific memory as a newborn believer. On the corner, looking up at that courthouse, God shared His heart. A vision played in my mind’s eye, as if it was happening right in front of me. In the middle of pitch blackness I saw a young man free falling downward, arms and hands grasping upward. God said, “America is in a moral free fall.”
In an instant, I knew God’s love for America, our culture’s current condition, and, His plan for my future, to help America return to God.
Two applications, first, you likely received a calling as a newborn believer. Act on it now. It’s never too late. And second, in 2019 center your life on God. Share His love everyday with others, like Key ’73.