One sunny, chilly day in Gulf Shores, Alabama, I encountered Jesus. It was spring break in my senior year of high school. Several friends and I shared a small, concrete block house, just off the beach.
As I ambled along, watching the waves, an odd looking group of hippies startled me. We are one in the spirit, we are one in the Lord…..they sang repeatedly. The beautiful, almost haunting, melody captivated me.
My religiously trained brain cast judgment right away. It’s just wrong for those kids to talk about God on the beach.
Their behavior was new to me and weird. But I couldn’t shake the idea that they meant what they sang. They seemed to love Jesus in a way I didn’t. One boy sidled up to me and shared a story of how Jesus changed his life. I couldn’t argue. It made sense, and I wanted to know more.
After spring break, I headed home, unable to forget the Jesus people. I could think of nothing better than to join them. It was impossible to unsee what I’d observed. I became a non-hippy, Jesus freak, showing up for all their regular gatherings.
We met in an old rented Victorian house in Mobile, Alabama. It was coined the Koinonia House. We’d crowd in tight on the creaky floor and sing along with an acoustic guitar amidst a hodgepodge of voices. The lack of personal space, off-key singing, and peculiar people didn’t faze me. I relished every minute. Scripture songs taught me about Jesus and rendered a palpable sense of peace and joy. Folks excitedly read verses from their Bibles.
Jesus said, I came to give life with joy and abundance.John 10:10, The Voice
I radically committed my life to Jesus, as did many young people all over the country. We were reborn as baby Christians. I’d always attended an established church with my family, but I never understood how to have a close relationship with God.
A new life should start with a clean slate, so I learned about repentance. For me, it meant giving up old routines and old friends, including a boy I dated who I really liked. My first year of college was about to begin, so the timing seemed perfect.
A big black leather King James Bible was my constant companion. With my red Flair pen I underlined verses that popped out as I read. It seemed to be written just for me. For the first time, God’s Word was life changing and applicable.
I’d take my Bible to classes and then to Koinonia meetings. On that old wooden floor of the big house, we’d sit and sway. We’d close our eyes and throw up our hands in worship as we sang the scriptural ditties. Joy surrounded us, and our lives had purpose.
The payoff for a life of sin is death, but God is offering us a free gift–eternal life through our Lord Jesus, the anointed One, the Liberating King.Romans 6:23, The Voice
The last time I wore my cute “hot pants” outfit, I walked into class, and my eyes met Kevin’s, a “brother” from our fellowship. I felt naked and wanted to cover myself. No one told us to dress modestly; unspoken standards had taken effect. With our long hair, long dresses, big Bibles, and bold personalities, we looked like clones. We’d gather under the trees on campus to pray and read those big Bibles so everyone would notice our radically different lives. We weren’t prideful, but pure and authentic. He was changing us on the outside as well as in our hearts. We bordered on extremism, but it worked. No one wondered whose side we were on.
When I relinquished my life to Jesus, I wanted to be more like Him, and the Holy Spirit was faithful to teach me.
This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.1 Timothy 2:3-4
A singing group called The Living Waters was formed, and somehow I became a member. A bar owner invited us to his nightclub, when once a week it became a coffee house. The owner was intrigued by our ministry and allowed us to belt out our complete repertoire of scripture choruses every Saturday night.
We also took our songs on the road. Small rural churches invited us to sing for folks gathered in their fellowship halls. We’d pile into a VW bus, on its last leg, without a care in the world.
Once we were invited to sing for a huge audience in Miami. The bus wouldn’t make it so we squeezed into cars and made the long drive to a conference whose speakers were among the most well-known Bible teachers at the time. The vastness of the audience scared me to death. It was surreal. That was our biggest gig. We even recorded an album after a supporter put up the money. How I wish I’d kept it.
The ongoing transformation I experienced then and that continues now, is sanctification. All these years later, I’m still learning, changing and growing as a follower of Jesus.
Sanctification is a practical part of a Christian’s life. Through everyday living, as we seek to know God better, the Holy Spirit enlightens areas of our lives where growth is needed. For instance, God showed me how to better love people. I learned that God’s love, agape, is action, not feelings. Authentic kind deeds equal love. Feelings of love follow.
The recent movie, Jesus Revolution, moved me deeply. It’s my personal story. The film was produced primarily in my hometown, Mobile. The school which served as a backdrop was my school, Murphy High.
The Jesus Revolution movie has crushed box office expectations. Simultaneously, revival is breaking out all over our country among the same demographic the movie depicted. The Jesus movement continues today. The search for meaning and truth is perpetual. People desire a semblance of happiness and purpose in this world. The answer is Jesus—our deepest needs are met in Him.
One trait of the phenomenon called the Jesus Revolution stuck out to me: it lasts. Tears drip down my cheeks as I ponder this truth: The Anchor holds. The movement that enlightened thousands of kids fifty years ago remains solid and miraculous to this very day in 2023. Jesus is eternal. He remains faithful and true.
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.Hebrews 6:19, NIV
After many years of following Jesus and getting to know Him better, I’m more excited to serve Him and enjoy the Kingdom of God than I’ve ever been.
What about you? Do you know Jesus personally? I’d love to hear your story. Please email me if you have questions about following Him. It’s the best decision you’ll ever make.