It was then that God began to change my life. I accompanied my roommate to the weekday service of the church we attended on Sundays, something I had never done before in all my years of faithful church attendance. There a preacher who I knew, the director of the Christian summer camp that I loved, told the story of Bartimaeus from Matthew 10. He recounted how Bartimaeus, though blind, cried out to Christ for His sight, imploring Christ to make him whole.
I had not intended to be seized by the story; indeed, I am sure that I had heard it before, and felt nothing. But that day I became Bartimaeus—I wanted healing! I wanted forgiveness for the sins of my life. I wanted Jesus Christ, the God-man who died on a cross to save sinners and rose again to give them eternal life, to become my personal savior. I wanted to go to heaven when I died and not to go to hell. Suddenly I loved Jesus, I loved the cross on which He died to save my soul, I loved the church people who worshipped him, and I loved the Bible. That night altered the course of my existence. I began praying earnestly, reading the Bible devotedly, and telling others about Jesus zealously. There was not enough time in the day to tell others about Jesus. God changed me then. He brought peace and joy into my heart by leading me to recognize both the horror of my sin and the beauty of Christ, the One who died to set me free from hell. As He has done throughout history, he used this paradox, this combination of terrible and wonderful truth, to convert me to himself. From that point on, I have lived for Him, and never looked back.
And so Jesus, who I first learned about in a small country church, ceased to be to me a fascinating figure, an arresting piece of flannel on a soft blue background. This Jesus became the one I love and worship, and all because of faithful Christian parents, a roommate who spoke and lived the truth of God’s word, and some basketball dreams that crashed just in time for a young man to see the true need of his heart: the forgiveness of a merciful God, a God whose kindness and warmth I now fully understood.