Things I Have Learned About Following Jesus Through the Years || guest blog by Ned Keene

Just last year I celebrated walking with Jesus Christ for 30 years. It’s hard to believe a 20-year-old college sophomore, floundering in life and in school, realized the full weight of his decision to entrust his life to Jesus at a Christmas conference in Philadelphia. But here I am, reflecting on some observations I’ve noticed about my long stroll with the Savior.

Jesus is more gracious to me than I’ve often been to myself. As the years have gone by the sheer volume of undeserving forgiveness I’ve received from Jesus boggles my mind. Time and again I’ve confessed the same sin a multitude of times and received the same cleansing from him. I’ve wanted to just punish myself and imprison myself in the pit of my failures. Many times I’ve been ready to write myself off, but Jesus has instead offered me a moment for redemption.

As even I wearied of repeating the same cycle of confession and beginning again, his grace has been a steady anchor to remind me over and over that this grace is truly undeserving. It’s reinforced the truth that it is “God’s kindness that leads us to repentance” (Romans 2:4). The depth of his grace has not gone without effect. His irresistible presence has warmed and loosened some of the toughest spots in my heart and it has motivated me to start sooner in the process of confession and change. What freedom! What joy!

Jesus is more committed to my holiness than I’ve been. I’ve frequently dismissed or excused sin in my life as tolerable mistakes or “boys will be boys” moments. But Jesus has walked into some of those very areas, shown me the light of his love, and said “Enough.”

Those moments were brutal, painful, and rough on my ego, but it’s what I needed the most – the crucible of change brought on by a God of unrelenting love. I’ve felt the before and after effects of hiding sin before finally confessing it (like David in Psalm 32) and I’m grateful Jesus has persisted in provoking change in those areas. I’ve learned not to be so resistant to his impulses, no matter how difficult they might appear at the onset.

Jesus is more faithful than I could have ever imagined. God gave me dreams and passions for the people of God, but at the time it all started I thought they were just too fanciful to ever become a reality. I couldn’t see the road of how they’d ever become a reality. Yet 20 years later, I’ve had the humbling privilege of being used by him to bless a great number of people in the roles and churches where I’ve served.

I’ve watched him do amazing things in people’s lives and stir hearts to grow and be transformed like I’ve never seen anywhere else. The only steps I saw were the ones directly in front of me and I had to trust him to walk into them and then leave the results to him. But he’s done way more with the little I had, like the boy with five loaves and two fishes (Matthew 14:13-21).

Jesus has been more life giving than I could have predicted. I used to wonder when I’d see the payoff of some areas that were heavily under construction in my character. I wonder no more. I see the fruit, the treasure, the payoff, and it’s beautiful. And that’s only thus far! While it’s always tough to have the spotlight of scrutiny focus on a part of you, with Jesus it has always resulted in my liberation from bad habits, sin, and darkness. His love has taken the sting of exposure and turned it into a warm moment of redemptive freedom. And it’s always been worth it – every single time. No regrets. Hallelujah!

Ned Keene