Swallowing Sunshine

So, this month is my 50th birthday! I know that surprises some of you who thought perhaps I was pushing 70.

Well, actually both are true…

Me at the beach December ’70

It was January 1972, my sophomore year of college at THE Ohio State University (some of you are cheering and others are booing—I love you all). My best friend Jackie and I lived in a one-bedroom apartment on the “bad” end of High Street. (Noisy bar outside, pesky cockroaches inside.)

Returning from Christmas break, I noticed  every night Jackie would lie in her bed reading the Bible. I found this rather irritating because it seemed as if she was “more religious” than me.  After all, I was raised in the church and believed in God!

So, I figured I would show her that I, too, was “holy.” I got out a little paperback New Testament my Grandma Burns had given me to take to college. Each night I opened it and out of the corner of my eye watched Jackie across the bedroom to make sure I read longer than she did. (What? Me competitive?)

One Tuesday, a friend of Jackie’s stopped by to give her info she’d requested about a Campus Crusade for Christ meeting.

Jackie with her dog Pokey in ’72

Jackie was eager to attend, but figured I wouldn’t be—probably the fact that I enjoyed arguing about the validity of the Bible was a good clue.

“You don’t want to go, right?” Jackie asked.

The honest answer would have been: “Absolutely not!” But once again my competitive nature asserted itself and I replied, “Of course, I want to go!”

The meeting that night began with students singing upbeat songs I’d never heard. They seemed excited and I remember thinking: They have something I don’t.

Later in the meeting, after dividing into smaller groups, a pretty blonde shared a blue booklet with me. At one point she asked: “Who’s on the throne of your life?”

As a newspaper reporter I loved to ask questions, but this seemed like a dumb one.

“I am—who else would be?” I responded.

The girl patiently explained that when we put Jesus on the throne of our life, everything changes as His Holy Spirit supernaturally provides the power to live a God-pleasing life. Then she asked me if I wanted to pray and surrender the leadership of my life to Him.

To this day, I’m still amazed that my 18-year-old, know-it-all self said “yes,” but I did. And she was right…everything changed. I experienced God’s peace, joy and purpose in an incredible way.

To quote E. Stanley Jones, “When I met Christ, I felt that I had swallowed sunshine.”(And now you know why I celebrate two birthdays: one a physical birth and one a spiritual rebirth. And why I’m forever grateful for my dear friend Jackie.)

Half a century later, I still feel Christ’s light in me. But honestly, I still sometimes get back on the throne. I want things my way and in my timing.

Have you swallowed sunshine, my friend? If so, I remind you–as I daily do myself–to keep Jesus on the throne no matter what weariness this world throws at us.

But set apart Christ as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer
to anyone who asks about the hope you possess.
 1 Peter 3:15

P.S. If you ever want to talk about who’s on the throne in your life, email me at cancerhope4u@gmail.com
Make sure to open in your browser to hear one of my favorite songs, “Jesus We Enthrone You” by Don Moen.

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