I want to tell you about the day when I met my best friend. This encounter is nothing like you might expect. You may be thinking that I met him or her at a school playground, church event, or other kid-friendly activity, and by assuming this, you are somewhat correct. I met my best friend at summer camp, but we were not introduced in the conventional sense. We met one night in a cabin at Lake Beauty Bible Camp in Long Prairie, Minnesota, and it is a time and place I will never forget.
Time brings change and the sharpness of childhood memories fades, and this is somewhat true of my experience that night at Bible camp. But I will never forget the way I felt upon meeting the One— my best friend— and how He changed my life forever. You see, my best friend was not a fellow camper, but my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I was struck by a question posed in a book I read recently, and it started me thinking about that night nearly 20 years ago in that cabin. “What attracts you to Jesus?” asked the author. It made me consider what it was that drew me toward my Savior, and I found it didn’t take long for the words and feelings to start flowing, hence why I am sharing with you, my readers, today.
To say that I was drawn to Him that night is absolutely a reality. I couldn’t deny what my camp counselor was saying. Jesus came to earth to die for me, a sinner. I could spend eternity with Him in Heaven if I accepted Him as my Savior. In nine-year-old terms, this meant accepting Jesus into my heart. I had grown up going to church and knowing what it meant to pray and sing songs to Him; my parents raised me to believe and grow in my knowledge of Him. But it wasn’t until that night that my child-like faith became real to me.
I have to admit that my first reaction to the Gospel message was that I would be in Heaven with Jesus when I died if I asked Him into my heart. There was a little bit of fear when I thought about Hell and spending eternity in pain, separated from my family and Jesus. I wanted to know where I was going when my life came to an end. But beyond that initial fear, I knew immediately that Jesus loved me and that He had come to save me.
Even at a young age, I was aware that I was a sinner who needed His grace to cover my many wrongs. I think it was easy for me to cling to His grace and compassion because I craved that assurance. I spent a significant amount of time trying to measure up to others as an adolescent. I knew my visual impairment made me different and I was aware that I didn’t quite fit the mold of normalcy. As an adult, I know that there is no such thing as “normal,” but to a young girl who doesn’t seem to fit in, faith in Jesus was a huge comfort. I could talk to Him and communicate my doubts and fears; I knew He was always listening.
But beyond being attracted to His love, grace, acceptance, and comfort, I found a constancy in His presence. He never left my side through the ups and downs of life— through challenges in school and relationships, seeking to find my place in independent living and career, and trusting Him through health trials and frustrations with the presence of my visual impairment. I can honestly say that it has always been easy to believe in a best friend/ savior who is largely unseen in the physical sense. My blindness has taught me that just because something can’t be seen, that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Jesus has been a constant in my life, and I know He exists without a doubt.
His faithfulness and provision have always been proof that He is always here, holding my hand and bringing me through the best and the worst that life has to offer. There are times, however, when I find myself slipping away from Him, somehow thinking that I have things under control. But it isn’t long before I realize that I am nothing without Him, and I reach out blindly to find that He has never left my side. His patience and persistence in pursuing me has never gone unnoticed, and I am beyond amazed at the way He loves me.
I could go on and on about the One who has been at the center of my life for twenty years, but I find that words are somehow limiting when it comes to the Lord of All. So I’ll just sign off with a grateful heart, overwhelmed with the knowledge that I have the best friend in the entire world… Really, I do!