It was the first night of a youth retreat. I found myself in an auditorium filled with hundreds of other teens, praising God. That worship session started out quite similarly to the many others I’d experienced back home, only on a much larger scale. Then I heard God whisper to my heart that I needed to understand His love better. Though I didn’t know it yet, those words were to change my life forever.
What did He mean that I needed a better understanding of His love? I’d grown up going to church every Sunday. I’d asked Jesus into my heart at a very young age. I’d been a Christian the majority of my life. Of course I knew that God loved me! In spite of all of this, I was missing something. At the time, I wasn’t even aware of my state of lack. I failed to realize that I had yet to cross the line between religion and relationship, tradition and truth – to come to apprehend the true gospel. I was at a crossroads, and I didn’t even know it.
In response to God’s whisper that I need to better understand His love, I inquired of Him how to do so. A little while later, the worship team began playing a song that was all about God’s love for us. As they did so, a realization of that love – more vividly real, more tangibly alive than I’d ever experienced before – washed over me like a wave. The sheer vastness of it was overwhelming! Jesus gave His very life for me. He wanted me to walk in the freedom His death had purchased for me – to be rid of of such feelings as guilt, condemnation, and shame, which had been rendered unnecessary by His work at the cross. It was all I could do just to take it! Though I didn’t yet understand all that it meant, this glimpse of His love for me personally was the beginning of a total life change. I would never again be the same.
My name is Emily Hockenhull. I started Called and Created as a way to share the good news of the gospel of God's grace with others. Come join me on the journey!