Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him. – Matthew 4:19-20
I had a friend back in Columbus, Ohio who was a serious cyclist. He talked constantly about how much fun it was to ride, what great exercise it was, how good it felt to have the sun on your face and the wind at your back, blah, blah, blah. Truth be told it got kind of annoying after a while. He kept telling me, “You’ve got become a cyclist. You’d love it. You short guys with big legs make good cyclists.” I’m not sure if that was compliment or not. Either way, I wasn’t interested. Didn’t have time. Didn’t have a bike either. Hadn’t ridden one in years. And then I moved to Minnesota.
Each summer my friend did a bike ride across the state of Iowa at the end of July called RAGBRAI. That summer the route went through Ames, Iowa. My friend called me and said, “Why don’t you drive down for the day? Straight down I-35. We can spend the day together.” I thought that was a great idea, so I did.
What I saw that day blew me away. Thousands of cyclists from around the world were pedaling through Ames that day, having the time of their lives. It was a gigantic party on wheels. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face and when the day was done, right before I got back into my car I told my friend, “I’m doing this with you next year.” Of course, just a few miles down the road I remembered that I didn’t even own a bike, hadn’t pedaled one in years, but had just committed to pedaling 450 miles in a week!
Later that month I purchased a bike and started to ride. At first it wasn’t much fun. I worried about falling and getting hit by cars. I became frustrated by how quickly I got winded going up hills. And then there’s the seat – both the bike’s and mine. Yikes! But I kept at it and in time I discovered what my friend knew – the joy of riding. The freedom. The sun on your face and the wind at your back. The pleasure of covering miles under your own power. And I’ve loved riding ever since.
So, at what point did I become a cyclist? Was I born a cyclist and just didn’t know it until later in life? Did I become a cyclist when I committed to ride across Iowa? When I bought a bike? When I first sat in the saddle? When I discovered that I loved to ride? When was I converted?
I tell you that story and raise those questions because I’m asking similar questions these days about our faith journey. When did you become a Christ-follower? Notice that I didn’t ask you when you became a Christian. Lutherans would say that happened in our baptism by God’s grace. I’m asking when you became a Christ-follower, intentionally responding to the Spirit’s call to walk in the ways of Jesus. What’s your “conversion story”? What were the circumstances? What “pushed you over the edge”? Was it something sudden, a moment in time? Or was it a gradual process?
I really am interested in your story. If you’d be willing to share it please leave a comment. In a later blog I’ll share what I’ve learned and why it matters. And next week in this blog spot I’ll share my own conversion story.
Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN