As if for the First Time

| 22 January 2020

"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you..." (Ephesians 1:18)

For almost 20 years as a Youth Pastor, one of my favorite experi- ences was leading, mobilizing and sending students overseas or across the border with the goal of sharing the love of Jesus. Anyone who has ever stepped foot onto a mission field knows that stepping into a foreign culture, eating strange food, speak- ing unfamiliar languages, dealing with potentially uncomfortable customs, and then attempting to communicate anything mean- ingful can be a very stretching experience. Because of this, I took the interview process very seriously. Each student had to fill out a four-page application, get multiple references and endure a 30-minute interview! We don’t just send anyone to the mission field. We want to send our best! We wanted to send students who were committed to following Jesus and lived it out.

For this reason, I distinctly remember being completely shocked when I heard one of these students, while sharing her testimony many years after going on one of these trips, say, “I became a Christian in Albania.” I remember thinking to myself, “No you didn’t… I heard your testimony before you went… you were definitely a Christian before Albania.” And I was right! I had proof. Sure enough, she had checked the box on the application saying, “I know Jesus as my savior.” However, her words said something different. What happened here?

While I can’t fully speak to all the spiritual realities that were going on in this young woman’s heart, I think I might know what was going on, and I also think that it is the very thing that Paul prayed for the Ephesian church above. I think that this experience of being stretched, of being pushed out of her comfort zone, and of having to actually step out in faith, may have been so new to

her that it gave her a brand new way to see her relationship to Jesus. She believed so deeply and radically that it seemed as if it were for the first time. As if, what was known, finally became real to her. Maybe it was in Albania that (to paraphrase our verse), “the eyes of her heart were enlightened in order that she could know the hope to which she had already been called.”

My prayer for you, for me, and for us is that God would open the eyes of our hearts in this same way. Would he give us new opportunities to step out in faith, so that we too might believe as if for the first time.

Josh Rose

Pastor of Adult Ministries