And It Can Be

  • Nov. 14, 2006
  • #6402

Joni shares about the moment when she first understood the Good News.

It was November 14, 1964... 42 years ago... wow... I was just a sophomore in high school and I was in Natural Bridge, Virginia, for a weekend Young Life retreat. It was Saturday morning and we had moved into the camp meeting hall to hear the speaker. But before that, we sang. And back then, it was still wonderful old hymns that were sung in Young Life. I didn't know all of them, but that morning as I sat on the hardwood floor, I felt my heart open to these soul-stirring words that everybody was singing. Then afterward, when the speaker asked if any of us wanted to embrace Christ as Savior, I looked to my left and right at my friends, glanced around my shoulder, then swallowed hard, shoved my hands into the pockets of my jeans and stood up 'cause my heart wouldn't allow anything less. There were maybe 15 or 20 of us that were standing that day. And from that point on, everything was different.

Everything looked different especially that night during the evening meeting that same day. Again, even the hymns seemed different. Now, they really meant something. And none was more striking to me than when everybody started singing that old hymn "And Can It Be?" Especially the third verse that goes: "Long my imprisoned spirit lay fast bound in sin and nature's night. Thine eye diffused a quick'ning ray: I woke-the dungeon flamed with light! My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee."

And, I'll tell you what twenty-four hours earlier, I would have given you a weird look if you had told me that my "spirit lay fast bound in sin?" No way! Bound in sin - never! But now with the Spirit of Christ residing in me, less than 24 hours I was still a baby in Jesus and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I had left behind "nature's night." I really felt as though my chains had fallen off. I no longer felt chained to my boyfriend and his approval; I no longer felt chained to what my hair looked like or how heavy I thought I was. Best of all, I felt free. 

And it was the Lord who had made me alive-absolutely nothing I had done. Nothing except to believe and place my faith in Him. Jesus was the one who woke me up, who made the dungeon light, and who opened the prison bars so that I could walk out a new creature in Christ. And today marks that wonderful day I first believed. Where have 42 years flown to!

Can you recall that moment when you first understood the Good News? Can you remember how it felt? Do the flames of that first love for Jesus still burn brightly in your heart? There will be people all around you today who have yet to experience that life-transforming, destiny-changing moment. So pray, would you, for opportunities to simply tell them what happened to you when your chains first fell off and you stepped from darkness into light. It's a story worth remembering and it's worth telling.

Music: And Can It Be That I Should Gain. Words: Charles Wesley. Music: Thomas Campbell, Public Domain

© Joni and Friends

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