For me, that transformation looked a lot like a newfound JOY and HOPE.
I NEEDED both desperately.
I didn't understand everything that had happened to me, I just knew two things with unquestionable certainty:
1) I had been made new; and, I was definitely not the same person.
2) Who would not want what I had been given? I had to tell my story...and I wanted to do it for the rest of my life.
Combine those two things with the Christian culture of the day. A recent stirring of the Lord brought along a renewed sense, and a growing excitement, that, indeed, we weren't long for this world. Jesus would return, and take believers with Him. I wanted to do my part to make sure those I loved, who didn't have the same relationship with Jesus, were prepared.
It's natural, when we are excited about something, we want to share it!
We sang songs like..."I Wish We'd All Been Ready..." and, hauntingly stopped the final line of the song with these words: "The Son has come...and you've been left..."
It always gave me the chills.
It wasn't too many years later that Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins teamed up to give us the "Left Behind" book series. The books skyrocketed to the top of the best seller lists. Everyone was curious.
I wasn't satisfied with curiosity.
I wanted to be prepared.
I had to keep sharing my story.
The Apostle Peter cemented that desire:
"Always be prepared," he declared, "to share the story of the hope that is within you doing it with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15)."
I read again his words that we often quote when someone dies: "Don't be ignorant of those who have fallen asleep in Christ (fancy words that mean we aren't to remain uninformed about Christians who have already died), for we do not grieve as those who have NO HOPE (1 Thess 4:13)."
Paul's assurance is based on this one HOPE:
Jesus is coming again.
Those who have already died will join Him first.
Then, those who are alive, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (4:17).
Jesus said He would return for His followers.
He doesn't lie.
He always keeps His promises.
Every promise in Christ is a resounding, "Yes!"
There's a lot I don't understand about that day of Jesus' coming.
Unlike Peter, I did not have the privilege of walking with Jesus in the flesh.
Unlike Paul, I did not have the honor of being taught by Jesus in the Arabian desert.
However, the Lord prepared them to prepare others based on the HOPE of His promises.
He wants to do the same for me...
He has done the same for me...through those who have been prepared, who were willing to prepare me.
I can tick off a mental list of a huge host.
All this said to get to the final line of truth for application:
HOPE is built on God's promises, by laying a foundation brick by brick (each and every promise a new brick)...
...the mortar that cements the bricks together, to bring us solidified, steadfast HOPE, is PREPARATION.
We need both for a firm foundation:
So, we have this hope: Jesus will return.
We don't know. No man knows the hour (although many have tried to guess...).
In the meantime...
We make ourselves ready.
Yet, we don't stop there.
We share our story.
We help prepare others and bring them into our LIVING HOPE.
Believe me, HOPE is at a premium.
Our world needs it.
Our kids need it.
No generation needs it more than our Gen Z'ers.
PREPARE to SHARE!