In the summer of 1973, under intense scrutiny and facing possible arrest for his role in the Watergate scandal, Charles Colson began to question where he stood with God. His friend Tom Phillips had been telling him about Jesus and praying for his salvation, and one night in August, while on a working vacation in Maine, Colson knew he could put it off no longer.
I knew the time had come for me: I could not sidestep the central question [C.S.] Lewis (or God) had placed squarely before me. Was I to accept without reservations Jesus Christ as Lord of my life? It was like a gate before me. There was no way to walk around it. I would step through, or I would remain outside. A “maybe” or “I need more time” was kidding myself.
And as something pressed that question home, less and less was I troubled by the curious phrase “accept Jesus Christ.” It had sounded at first both pious and mystical, language of the zealot, maybe black magic stuff. But “to accept” means no more than “to believe.” Did I believe what Jesus said? If I did, if I took it on faith or reason or both, then I accepted. Not mystical or weird at all, and with no in-between ground left. Either I would believe or I would not—and believe it all or none of it.
The search that began that week on the coast of Maine … simply returned me to where I had been when I asked God to “take me” in that moment of surrender on the little country road in front of the Phillipses’ home. What I studied so intently all week opened a little wider the new world into which I had already taken my first halting, shaky steps. One week of study on the Maine coast would hardly qualify, even in the jet age, as much of an odyssey, but I felt as if I’d been on a journey of thousands of miles.
And so early that Friday morning, while I sat alone staring at the sea I love, words I had not been certain I could understand or say fell naturally from my lips: “Lord Jesus, I believe You. I accept You. Please come into my life. I commit it to You.”
With these few words that morning, while the briny sea churned, came a sureness of mind that matched the depth of feeling in my heart. There came something more: strength and serenity, a wonderful new assurance about life, a fresh perception of myself and the world around me. In the process, I felt old fears, tensions, and animosities draining away. I was coming alive to things I’d never seen before; as if God was filling the barren void I’d known for so many months, filling it to its brim with a whole new kind of awareness. ©1976 Charles W. Colson
Excerpted from “Born Again,” by Charles W. Colson, Chosen Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Used by permission. Bakerpublishinggroup.com.
Above: Charles Colson speaks at Amsterdam 2000, an international evangelism conference sponsored by BGEA.
Photo: ©2000 BGEA