miracle of newbirth
miracle of newbirth
There are no words to properly describe the experience of being born again. Regeneration, rejuvenation, renewal, second birth, recreation all fail to capture the whole picture. Resurrection is a better word perhaps, because in it we understand there was life before and through resurrection one gains a life again, a new life, a new beginning. The idea of a new beginning is big here.
Words can not paint the whole picture, that is my point; one has to experience regeneration in order to embrace its totality. I am able to reflect on the experience because I have gone through it. I often wish it was something I could experience over and over again. The reason is that the new birth comes out of a process of faith resulting in this incredible outcome where one finally wakes up as if out of a dream, to realize that the old life is gone and all things are new.
It happened on a hot day one October many moons ago. I decided to seek some happiness for myself in the middle of of a spiritual crisis that I was experiencing. I told myself I needed to be happy and that I would go to the meeting of "Christian young people" where, I was told, they told the truth about life and fought the battles for the souls of men. My struggles, I was told, would stop if I trusted as my young friends did, in the God of heaven.
If they had told me this was about new birth I would have turned away. SO often I had heard the story of the man named Nicodemus in the Bible. He went by night to Jesus to find out more about His teaching. He came back challenged to be born again. My good friends had told me so many times to be saved, to be born again and as far as I was concerned I was born again.
I was baptized and confirmed in the church. I was a good boy and faithfully went to church. I did not steal, I did not womanize neither was I less religious than the best around. I was involved in many religious groups in College and I was secretary for one of those. What more did I need to do to be counted religious enough. I was tired of being told to be born again.
The attraction for me to go to the meeting was so deep within my soul. I forced myself against any odds to go and see and hear and feel whatever it was that pulled me to the meeting.
The meeting took place in a place run by the Anglican Church, they called it the Ecumenical Center. In a meeting room the size of a large classroom there were close to one hundred young people, mostly my age. I recognized a few as coming from my college. That was good because I could relate to these guys. I was also happy because I did not know anyone in particular, anyone who might stick close to me. I needed the space to participate, to listen and act as I really felt.
The first thing that struck me was the freedom with which my friends sang the "songs of faith" out of memory. They did not use songbooks the way we did in our church. The singing went on for almost an hour without ceasing. I was really enjoying myself already. The songs were short; as a matter of fact as I discovered later, they were choruses repeated several times over!
We sang about the blessed name of the Lord and the power of the blood of Jesus. WE sang of the joy of His salvation and many more choruses like that.
Then there was this young man who impressed me so much with his memory verses. He would stand there in front of us all and recite enitre verses without opening the Bile. His speech was sdo natural! He would say something like, "Let us all rejoice in the Lord, as the Bible says ...in such and such a verse, ...we should rejoice in the Lord" I never thought people took the Bible so seriously as to memorize scriptures and make them part of their daily language and in conversations! But here I was and this just struck me.
Finally the speaker came to the front. I must tell you the classroom was so ordinary, no statue or holy relic up there; just a teacher's table and a black board. He stood there and surveyed us for a moment. He led us in a song and prayed a very short prayer whose significance I can not even remember.
As he started to speak it struck me that he was different from preachers I had encountered until this day. My mind started to race wondering how I could possibly find what I was looking for here! But then his words came falling on me like new rain on a dry hot day. He was telling us a story about his experiences with the powers of darkness and their victory through the blood of Jesus! That got my attention and I forgot about any issues and my whole mind was fixed on him, to hear each and every word he was saying.
He held the Bible in his left hand, partly open, the way I would hold an open pumpkin just before throwing it into the pot. He was not about to throw the Bible anywhere; that is how he held it for the longest time. Now my mind was occupied with two things at the same time. I was hanging on to every single word he uttered and I wa interested to see what he was intending to do with that book.
As he spoke he was also moving from one side of the room to the other, carefully charting his path so that it was repeated this way and that. He would pause briefly to look at me, or at least I was sure he was looking at me. His eyes pierced through me. I was very sure he knew me; he seemed to know my thoughts. He was talking to me! No, he was talking about me. I was convinced deep inside my heart of hearts that this preacher was aware of my spiritual struggles.
He took my case this way, he said, "You are here because you have no peace within your spirit; you are troubled. You are not sleeping, you are not at peace. You have been to many witch-doctors and they gave you some concoctions and told you it will be okay. But I am here to tell you the answer lies in Jesus. ..." the rest of what he said was faint as my whole self retreated within.
How did he know me? What should I do now? But even as these thoughts ran through my mind I was beginning to see more clearly. Whatever he told us was meant for me and also for someone else in that room facing the same crisis I was. That did not lessen the relevancy and impact of his message.
By that time I was sweating profusely all over my body. I needed space to think. I needed time to conclude my thoughts and make a rational decision.
He made an altar call saying "If there is anyone here who needs to handover the reigns of his life to Jesus, this is the right time and place to do it. Come forward so that we pray with you for a breakthrough." I did not go forward but I desperately wanted to go back to my room at College to find my space and time to complete my thoughts and decision to follow Jesus. I was determined to give my life to the Lord Jesus but I needed some space.
Having arrived in my room at the college I decided it was time for me to ask Jesus for help. In the hours that followed I took down all the paraphernalia and whatever things stood for the false security that had brought me to this point, to the edge of insanity.
When I wa sure I had taken down everything I knelt down and asked the Lord to hear my prayer, to take away my sin and guilt, and to remove the false security that the evil one had placed around me and to put His arms around me. I asked Jesus to come into my heart, "Just as that preacher told us, that you hear our prayer for help and forgive our sins; Lord forgive and clean me and come in and live in my heart from here for ever."
I did not realize that my life had just changed 180 degrees as they say; my sins had been forgiven that moment on 24th October somewhere between the hour 9 and 10 PM as I knelt down on the college room floor.
That night I carried out a ritual that I would never again repeat. I took those things the witch-doctors gave me for my health and protection, threw them away where it was impossible to get them back, washed my hands with plain water and went back to my room to think and pray and wait.
The only assurance that I had received the help I asked for from Jesus were the words of the preacher that kept coming back to me. "He loves you. He died for you. He will never fail you. Put your trust in Him. Jesus saves. ...." The songs also were playing in my mind, bringing new memories of a such a beautiful time I had had that day. The words of the preacher were closely matching what I found in the Bible verses he gave us. Then I must have drifted off into sleep.
For the first time in many months I slept through the entire night rising up after the sun! That was the first sign that everything was not the same. As I sat in bed I tried to piece together the events of that previous day. The meeting, the singing, the preacher, the coming back to college, the prayer, the ritual, the prayer afterward and then .... it was the next day! I opened the curtain to look outside. The whole thing was new! The air was fresh, more fresh than I had ever experienced it since I was born! I could hear the birds chirping away out there! I could make out the sounds of people's voices!
I lifted myself out of bed and found that I was lighter than usual. My whole body felt as though I had been lying in a pool of warm salted water, fresh and scented. Then the scripture came to me, when anyone is joined to Christ he is a new creation .the old has passed away ... everything is new. and I realized what had just happened! I was born again, born anew. I had experienced the new birth! The music that had died out of my life was renewed and I began that same day to sing to the glory of the Lord.
Over the years I have looked at that day and marveled at the power of God in our times. It is impossible to describe in words, the extent of the Lord's power in the life of people who have experienced the new birth. The new birth opened doors that were sealed and properly hidden out of my eye sight. With the experience I now belong to Jesus. The full extent of which will only be revealed on the Day of His coming.
The new birth is not just for a few select. Over the years I have observed as ordinary people like me have made up their minds to follow Jesus.