Had a birthday, not too long ago. Not the kind of birthday where folks sing to you, and there's cake and all. Rather, the birthday where you remember that Jesus came into your life, and saved you. The kind where you remember God--a spiritual birthday. I was born again twenty-two years ago, in a church in Santa Fe. A church where the Word was taught, and folks were getting saved, and God's spirit was moving. It was a good church, and it was a good time, and I knew Jesus....and I rejoiced!
As luck (Providence?) would have it, I was going to be in Santa Fe on that day. I thought: What a hoot to drive by the old church, and look, and remember. So I drove by the old place. The church has moved on, and the building has changed hands several times now. There was lettering on the front of the place, the kind that is cut out into individual letters, and screwed onto the facade. Underneath it could be seen the faded outline of where the old lettering had been. But that wasn't the name of the church, that had been buried under stucco and paint, and lettering that had come and gone. No trace left at all.
That church had hit on hard times, as churches sometimes do. There had been a change of pastor's, a church split, a falling out among the members of the congregation. At a certain time, they moved into a new building. I thought: Why not drive by the new building and have a look? So I drove by the new place.
Wasn't a place that I knew well. I'd only been in a couple of times. No emotional, commemorative bells ringing.The sign told me that they were down to one service on Sunday mornings. Used to have three, and a Saturday night service, as well. Things had changed, and God wasn't working there the way He had in the past. Seems like the Lord will do that....choose a time, a place, and a man, and begin to do amazing things. And then the time will move on, the man may move on, and it seems that God has moved on as well. Nothing much now to remember, or celebrate.
I drove away. Funny, but it didn't seem as sad as it could have seemed. The old place gone, the new place unfamiliar. It could have been a bit of a bummer, on a day when you're remembering what God has done for you. Didn't seem to be, though. Thought about that for a spell. After a bit, it came to me, slowly-and then more clearly.
Even though the old place was gone, and the old work was over, nothing had changed, not really. The Jesus that was in the old church...He was never really in a building. How could you build something that would contain an infinite God? And even though one building was gone, and a new one had taken it's place, there was something about that Jesus that had never changed. He was in my heart then--that's why I rejoiced!
And He was in my heart now. That had not changed over the course of the last twenty-two years. Maybe that's why I felt that nothing had really changed. Same Jesus, same heart, same rejoicing. No matter what men or buildings may come or go, that was something that God assured me would never change. Jesus would always be with me, never leaving, never forsaking. Things had changed on the outside, but the inward reality remained the same. Jesus in my heart, my King in my life.
The reason why it wasn't the bummer it could have been, the reason I still rejoice? The King lives within. No matter the year, no matter what changes come, the King lives within, and I take Him with me wherever I go. It can always be 1989 in Santa Fe, it can always be a time when God is working, people are coming to know the Lord, and there's excitement in the air. It can always be a time when Jesus is about His Father's work, and me about my Lord's! No bummer, no worries, mate! Just my God living in me, and me in Him.
So I drove home. Happy birthday, Jesus, it's been twenty-two years. And you're more welcome here than ever.