Driving home earlier this summer from a Men’s Retreat I was listening to a CD of some old songs and hymns. One of our seniors had loaned it to me and wanted me to listen to it. I was on something of a spiritual high from the retreat and thought it would be a good time to listen. While I didn’t enjoy all of the selections, there were a few that inspired me as well as caused me to think. One song in particular got my attention and I have been thinking about it on and off since that Sunday morning.
Here are the words of one of the verses and the chorus:
I would love to tell you what I think of Jesus,
Since I found in Him a friend so strong and true.
I would tell you how He changed my life completely;
He did something no other friend could do.
No one ever cared for me like Jesus;
There’s no other friend so kind as He.
No one else could take the sin and darkness from me;
O how much He cared for me.
All my life was full of sin when Jesus found me;
All my heart was full of misery and woe,
Jesus placed His strong arms about me
And He led me in the way I ought to go.
As beautiful and powerful as the words are, it is not my story. I became a Christian and was baptized a few months short of becoming a teenager. Stay with me on this, but my life was not completely changed that day (as the song writer meant it). At that point my life was not full of sin, my heart was not full of misery and woe, and I don’t recall the sin and darkness being taken from me as the song notes. All I knew was that my older brother was going forward that Sunday morning to be baptized and I was going to do it too.
I had started attending the church at the invitation of my best friend. It was a small church with no children’s or youth ministry beyond Sundays, but it was a warm and welcoming church. My brother and I were accepted and loved without either of our parents accompanying us. The people rejoiced in our decision and congratulated us like we were their own. And we were.
The small church we began attending grew in every way eventually bringing on staff a part time youth minister God greatly used in my life. I stayed an active member of Forest Dale Church of Christ until I left following high school graduation to attend Cincinnati Bible College.
Here’s what sometimes troubles me when I hear songs like No One Ever Cared for Me like Jesus, Amazing Grace, and many others: I don’t have a testimony that matches those words. In my life I have committed my worst sins since I became a Christian. We wouldn’t describe too many 12 year olds as wretches, would we?
Not to be presumptuous, but isn’t my story similar to many Christians who are reading this? Churches, parents, pastors, and children’s ministry leaders have done and do a great job of leading young people to accept Jesus and make a faith commitment to him.
I was baptized at the age of 12, but my father came to Christ in his forties a few years after my brother and I did. If I could talk with him about what I am writing, I’m confident he would identify with Amazing Grace and No one Ever Cared for Me like Jesus far greater than I can.
So let’s ask the question that is the title of this post: which is better? Some may disagree with me, but I don’t have an answer. Regardless of when we came or come to Christ, what is most important is that we have done so or do come to Christ.
Going back to the song, in my case Jesus did change my life completely. He changed it from what it would have been had I not started going to that little church. In my dad’s case, the Lord changed his life completely as a father with two teenage sons from that moment forward.
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