Yesterday, Today, Forever
Our church chooses a theme each year, and our 2020 theme is “Yesterday, Today, Forever,” inspired by Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Our pastor challenged us to use our theme as an outline for telling our personal story of how Jesus, Who never changes, has changed our life for eternity. Here’s my story.
My life “B.C.” (Before Christ) looked very religious. I started attending church nine months before I was born and was virtually at church every time the doors were open throughout my childhood and adolescence. Though outwardly I had everyone fooled, inside I knew I was not saved. Not going to Heaven. Not a child of God. A lost sinner. I knew the Gospel, that I needed to make Jesus my Lord and Savior. My hang-up was faith. Though I had heard hundreds of sermons and explanations of the plan of salvation, I truly did not understand faith. Twice as a teen, I thought I had mustered up enough faith, and I professed (falsely, as it turned out) my salvation and was baptized. But in no time, I realized my faith was not genuine, just emotion and knowledge of facts.
Finally, at age 19, I discovered that I had been making it way too complicated, that faith was simply acceptance of what Christ had done for me, dying on the Cross to pay for my sins. I had knowledge of this before. I even had agreement with it. But I had never truly trusted, relied on, and personally accepted His sacrifice until that day, July 12, 1982. Immediately, everything changed. The moment I accepted His acceptance of me, I was reborn as His child, complete with everything that came with being a coheir with Christ: His righteousness in the Father’s eyes, a forever future in Heaven, an abundant life here on Earth. The old me was dead. Yesterday was forever over.
For the past nearly four decades, I have been on a journey with my Lord, Savior, friend, brother, coheir, Jesus Christ. His Spirit lives within me. And Father God has indeed been a good Father. There have been mountaintops. And there have been valleys. And frankly, I’ve felt closer to God and learned more about Him in the valleys than on the peaks. He meets with me every morning and anytime I call to Him. He asks for my obedience, not to earn Heaven, but to show my love and gratitude and because disobedience is always ultimately self-destructive. He always has my best interest at heart. He has given me so many good gifts: a godly wife, two wonderful daughters, two amazing sons-in-love, a career that became a ministry, and a home in the Promised Land—Kentucky. I would not take a trillion billion to go back to my B.C. yesterday, even on my worst day. I fail my Lord often, yet He forbears and forgives over and over. He teaches me more about Himself with each passing year, and I’ve dedicated my life to knowing Him more, being more of who I am in Christ, and doing more to bring Him glory and point others to the One Who has made my “Today” infinitely better than my “Yesterday.”
Even if there was no “Forever,” no eternity in Heaven, walking with Christ is the absolute best way to spend life on Earth. But with Heaven to boot, it’s incomprehensible how anyone could say “No” to all the benefits of salvation. To fathom life with Christ forever in Heaven is equally incomprehensible, but I know that, based on what the Bible does tell us about it, it will be perfection in every way. What could make it better? If you, gentle reader, are there with me to share it. I pray that you will consider your “Forever,” your “Today” for that matter. You can enjoy eternal life, too. It doesn’t depend on what you do, but on what He has already done: dying on the Cross the pay the death penalty for sins that you owe, raising again to offer you new life Today—and Forever. Let your Yesterday end Today. And let Today be the beginning of your Forever.