Steve Barker

Before I met Christ
I have childhood memories after cleaning my room where my Mother would say “Good job, Steve, I’m proud of you” but inside I knew that I’d just kicked it all under the bed. She didn’t know. I felt the guilt. I was not a good person. As a Boy Scout, I was reverent. I knew God created everything but I knew he wouldn’t accept me. I sought approval from peers, teachers, everyone but I never accepted it because deep down inside, I knew I wasn’t good enough. I got through school and college trying to excel in something. Even in sports, the acceptance lasted only as long as the season. I knew I was guilty of doing so many wrong things God would never forgive me. After college, a friend invited me to go with him to the Billy Graham Crusade at Texas Stadium, the first event ever scheduled at the new stadium. I’d heard of him and it seemed like something that could maybe make a difference. All my own efforts to be good enough had failed. What did I have to lose?

I realized my need
When I heard Billy Graham speak about how we all fall short of God’s perfect plan but that he loves us anyway I realized I needed that love, forgiveness and acceptance. I was lonely, and my way of trying to be good wasn’t working out: I was going from disappointment to disappointment.

How I became a Christian
I learned that I couldn’t do enough to earn God’s approval. I learned that God sent his Son Jesus to die on a cross to pay for all the things that I did that displeased God, past, present and future. He wanted to have a personal and intimate relationship with me! I could live with Him forever if I repented and confessed my wrong-doing and believed that Jesus died in my place and rose from the dead. Billy Graham asked me and everyone there if we wanted to do just that. That was for me! I’d had a lifetime of guilt. I needed God in my life. I went down to the infield, prayed and gave my life to Christ.

What being a Christian means to me
I was saved, but I did not attend a church, I did not read his Word and I was not discipled. I was stuck still trying to be the best I could be. Years later, I visited a nondenominational church and saw the people really worshiping God, not just singing Hymn 357 verses 1, 2 and 5. That quickened my heart and I participated in the discipleship studies Masterlife and Experiencing God. I learned that when I do wrong, I can repent and confess it to God. I know that He will hear my prayer and not only forgive me, but choose not to remember. I had trouble forgiving myself because there was really no way I could. I hear the old tapes replay the old “I’m no good” stories. But God has forgiven me; who am I to go against the One who created the universe and everything in it? He will help me and for the rest of this life He will continue to transform me into the likeness of his son His Son, Jesus. That was His plan for me from the beginning and for everyone who comes to faith in Jesus.

What do you do with your guilt? How do you know that you are forgiven?