The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” Romans 10:9-10
How can one simple prayer, “Jesus, I ask you to be my Lord and Savior,” make such a difference? I don’t completely understand it myself but I know it makes all the difference in this world and in eternity. I know it because the Bible says it and because of what I witness in people.
So many I meet have done the hard part but have stopped just short of becoming a Christ follower. They already believe the astounding facts that Jesus came to earth as a baby via a virgin birth, died on a cross, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. Many go to church and some have even gone so far as to confess their sins to God or a priest.
They say they believe but then indicate that it isn’t enough. So what is missing? When I ask if they have invited Jesus to be their personal Lord and Savior, I often get blank or surprised stares. Sometimes, they mutter words that resemble, “Surely I have. I just don’t remember.”
“Oh, you’d remember if you had,” I answer. If I can get them to pray that simple prayer, their testimony to the power of that prayer is consistently the same. People who sincerely ask Jesus to be their Lord and Savior report that it changes them forever.
“Everything is different now. Things are calmer. Our family enjoys church. We all get along better. It all started with that prayer I prayed with you last year,” Michelle said in wonderment. She’d been updating me about everything that had happened in the year since she had prayed to ask Jesus to be her personal Savior. Michelle had already believed in Jesus and attended church sporadically. She tried reading the Bible but didn’t understand it. The problem was that she was trying to practice religion without ever having prayed to receive Jesus personally.
“Of course it all changed,” I said. “You prayed to receive Jesus. He entered your life. You’re different so everything is different. It’s like dipping cucumbers into vinegar. Once a cucumber becomes a pickle, it is changed forever.”
When I tell young children about becoming a Christian, I do an object lesson. First, we taste a cucumber. Next, we soak it in vinegar and taste the resulting pickle. I always ask, “Do you think this pickle can ever go back to being a cucumber?”
“Noooo,” they shout in unison.
“That is how it is when you pray to receive Jesus. Once you invite Him into your life, you can never go back to being a cucumber again. You are changed forever.”
Mallory told me the same story. She’d grown up in a Catholic church. When I met her on the first missionary journey in 2002, she believed in Jesus and had been baptized and confirmed. She’d never invited Jesus to be her personal savior. She was the first person Pocket Full of Change Ministries helped lead to Christ. I met her again in 2010 and she told me what had happened since that simple prayer. She’d gone from being a sad confused college student to becoming a committed Christian, church member, and student of the Bible. She’d graduated from college and had married a Christian man. Her transformation from cucumber to pickle was apparent in her glow.
Last week, I took a vacation with my sweet husband. I jokingly wrote on Facebook that since I was on vacation, I hoped others were telling people about Jesus. A few hours later, God assured me that other Christians were busily helping cucumbers become pickles. I sat in a restaurant in Maine and listened to the testimony of Heather, my server.
“My boss led me to Jesus. I don’t understand it but everything is different since I invited Jesus into my life. I feel different about everything. I already believed but now I know Him.”
“Of course everything is different,” I joked. “You’re a pickle instead of a cucumber. You’re changed forever.” At her confused look, I explained what I meant.
If you believe in Jesus but have never asked Him to be your personal Lord and Savior, you’re still a cucumber longing to be a pickle. Believing is the hard part but we also have to confess with our mouths. I beg you to pray this simple prayer: “God, I believe that Jesus came to earth as a baby, died on a cross, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. I’m not perfect and have made so many mistakes. Please forgive my sins. Jesus, I invite You into my life to be my Lord and Savior. If any part of me doesn’t believe, help me in my unbelief. Thank you for my salvation. Amen”