This post was originally published to the C3KW blog. I highly recommend heading over there for more encouragement, conviction, and devotionals!
One of my quarantine routines has been going on two walks per day: one on my own, for some alone time with Jesus, and one with my husband, Johnny (one of our quarantine date ideas). The other day, on my solo walk, I found myself crumpling under some pain and sadness that I had been trying to solve, cover up, and deal with on my own.
A few minutes into the walk, Hillsong’s “Whole Heart” playing in my headphones, I had the most visceral encounter with Jesus that I have had in many years. I literally felt His hand in mine, and when I looked over, saw His smiling face. My reaction was instant bawling. And, in one of the handful of times in my life, I heard His voice as audibly as I hear my own: “Cassie. I know even this pain. Let me carry the burden.”
I had somehow, up to that point, believed that what I was feeling was “too silly” for God to care about. And I hadn’t even asked Him to come, or been praying anything in particular, when He showed up. I was overcome, not by human emotions or anything of myself, but by the Holy Spirit. I believe Jesus used that encounter to change, shape, and challenge me for His good and glory.
Now, this isn’t necessarily what every day in Christ looks like. God doesn’t only operate in the miraculous, but equally in the mundane. But you know something? I haven’t always been in relationship with Jesus and experienced the Holy Spirit’s presence in this way. In fact, I was dead until I was 17 years old. Yes, existing for 17 years before that, certainly, but I was not truly living, because I hadn’t accepted the Holy Spirit of Jesus into my heart. I wasn’t born again.
In John chapter 3, Jesus teaches Nicodemus, a pharisee (or in other words, a strictly religious person), the meaning of being born again. Nicodemus asks “How can someone be born when they are old?… Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” (John 3:4). Even though he was “religious”, he didn’t get it yet. Jesus answers him by saying, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.” (John 3:5).
What does this mean?
Being born again means that His life is actually and literally residing in you, making you constantly aware of His purposes, His will, and His reign. It means that you receive His Word as Truth, that you are aware of the spiritual battle, and that you have constant, otherworldly joy, even in the midst of deep suffering or tragedy.
It isn’t about being “religious”, “spiritual”, or even a “nominal Christian”. It means that you resemble and apprentice Christ Jesus. He must become greater and we must become less (John 3:30).
It is in this very interaction with Nicodemus that we get one of the most memorized and recited verses ever:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
I pray that you simply know THIS: the God who created you and formed you in His image is calling you home – to live with purpose and submission, fully awake and fully alive. We cannot earn this love, for it was already bought with a price when Jesus died for all of our sins over 2000 years ago. He just asks you to respond to this radical love, and accept His Holy Spirit into your heart.
So, my friend… what is your story of being born again? Are you eager to share it? If you would like to learn about my own story of recognizing my own weakness, and need to be hidden in Christ, check out my blog post on it here.