50 Year Legacy – How I Became a Jesus Follower: Part Five

Circa 1970’s

I am celebrating a Golden Anniversary!  50 years ago this July I started following Jesus. Here’s the last installment of how it began in May of 1970…

Once I made the choice to follow Jesus, and not join someone else’s faith club, life shifted into something remarkably new.

I know the phrase “born again” sometimes has a lot of baggage to it. Jesus, actually, is the source of the expression in his conversation with the Pharisee who came to him at night. “No one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again” (John 3:3.) We can only coast so long on someone else’s faith: our parents, our church or youth group, our culture. It can be comforting to hang out around faith, but until it’s truly ours, it stays on the fringes of our lives.

Memories of the rest of that summer are somewhat blurred but I know it was a steady rhythm of getting to know Jesus through spending time with him, talking with him, church events, the book study, and hanging out with my friends. I had much to learn and they were glad to offer what they knew.

One of the favorite things of that summer was going to Red Rocks Amphitheater outside of Denver to engage in conversation about Jesus with the concert goers. Once the music started, we stayed in the parking lot and put the “Permanent Revolution” leaflets on the cars. I know that may seem peculiar now but it was a common practice at the time. That tract was so powerful for me that I was eager to share it. The strains of the music reached our location and we often stuck around until the end.

One particular night at Red Rocks, however, security shut us down and said no more leaflets. My group of friends was devastated and started praying for a way to be able to share something about Jesus that night.

As we were listening and praying, Paul Stookey (Paul of Peter, Paul, and Mary ) started sharing from the stage about his own relationship with Jesus.  It was more powerful than any car leafleting we could have done. After all these years, it remains a strong reminder of God’s faithfulness to provide a way.

In spite of all the amazing events, the summer had quite a surprise ending!

One afternoon in mid-August, I was riding in the front seat of a VW bug. My back was leaning against the passenger door  to better able converse with the rest of the friends in the back seat. My seat belt was not fastened and the car door was not properly closed. Fortunately, the car had just exited the highway.

The driver hit a speed bump on a side road. The door flew open and I flew out and bounced along the pavement a few times. I vividly remember the jarring of my body. An ambulance screamed up and I remember being loaded in and rushed to the nearest hospital.

My parents, back in Illinois, needed to give permission before any stitches could be put in as I was not yet 21. They were hosting a BBQ that night with some friends and were rather freaked out to get the call! The injuries required two sets of stitches on my face, lots of body bruising, but no broken bones. I did have a hard time moving and couldn’t see well due to the swelling. If you look closely at my face today, you can see the scars.

I left the hospital that night all bandaged and wrapped and looking quite a fright. I clearly remember how differently people on the streets regarded me because of my temporary disfigurement.

Due to the injuries, I was not able to stay and finish my classes so I made plans to return home. It was all so abrupt and  startling in every way. I packed up my room in the apartment, arranged to take in-completes for my classes, and said a sad goodbye to my new friends. Before I left, I asked about where to find other Jesus followers at college since I didn’t know any.  Intervarsity and Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) were mentioned but  I had not heard of either one.

My parents were glad to have me back. Before I went to Denver they were so worried about my lack of faith and now they were worried because I seemed to have too much! We went on a short  trip and I spent large amounts of time reading “Good News for Modern Man,” the current popular translation of the New Testament, by the pool each day. Just couldn’t get enough!

When I finally returned to my university,  the previous spring seemed like a lifetime ago. A few of my college friends had transferred to other universities. Some were still around campus and preferred the “old me” and others were curious about my story. One thing for sure, everyone recognized something had happened!

Someone else was about to come into my life that fall to forever change my course of direction….. Stay tuned!  I’ll tell that story in September.

Thank you for reading this five part story! Sometime in January of this year I felt the need to tell it like this. Some of my readers knew me then and others had no idea of the backstory of my faith journey.The fifty years since have been full of the ups and downs of life but hanging on to Jesus has been my lifeline. Would love to talk more if you’re interested!

Hope for the best,

Tish

 

 

 

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