It simply does not get any better than this. Seeing someone come to Christ, watching them catch the fire of the Holy Spirit, experiencing their excitement as they find peace with decades of questions … it is the height of joy.
One of the sweetest and deepest accounts of salvation to come out of ten years of ministry at Mosaic is the story of Julian Hutcheson. With his permission, I share his story here for those who might still be wondering if this faith is for them. I share it also as a word of encouragement for those in the battle.
Here is one man’s transparent account of what it means to move toward Christ:
I had some connection with Christ in my early teen years, but drifted away – for about 35 years. I could describe myself as being a semi-believer in God, but mostly was tangled up in objections to faith, on the sidelines with a very weak and strained experience of spirituality of any kind. The past year has been a transforming time of reawakening, renewal, and regaining a connection with God.
For a couple of years I had been attending Mosaic occasionally just to pacify my wife and “support” her attendance. I attended the day she joined the church and, I found that to be unexpectedly moving for me. Somewhere around that time I began to feel some deep emotional stirrings during the services. There were several times I thought I would cry during the singing. I clearly felt that my soul was kind of reaching up and pushing aside the entanglements, so I could connect with worship. I realized I needed to worship my God. It became clear to me that praising God is affirming the connection, just like saying “I love you” to another person. A powerful experience also came when one of my sons was baptized, and I went out to our van afterwards and wept.
I met with Carolyn and told her what I had been experiencing, and she helped me understand this was the Holy Spirit working, kind of opening the “pores” of my spiritual membrane. She asked me if I would be willing to listen to the Holy Spirit and follow where God was leading me, and I said I was, not really knowing what that might mean. I was feeling more connected to God, but not yet a follower of Christ. That came a few months later. Again taking the cue from my deeper self, I realized one day that my rational hesitations about being a Christian had essentially disappeared. I felt free to move toward Jesus, to include him. The transformation then went to another level as I opened up my heart to Christ. I had several more moving experiences that made it clear to me that I was a believer in Christ.
I met again with Carolyn, and after that joined the church and was recently baptized. I have increased my involvement in Mosaic, joining the worship team and attending the Men’s accountability group. Looking back over the past year, I see the fruit of many seeds planted from (the Sunday) messages. One of the strongest themes that helped me was that God knows my real self, loves me for who I really am and is willing to meet me where I am. The worship music also played a strong role, and I felt that (our worship leader) was essentially reaching her hand out to me, pulling me up spiritually out of the hole I was trapped in.
My wife Judy is continually doing a double-take. To hear me talk about my Bible readings or to see me moved to tears in worship and to proclaim my Christianity, this is all coming from a context of 29 years of marriage in which I have been a non-believer. My transformation is of course a great answer to her prayers. I am also comprehending, in stages, how much of a burden I have been on Judy in pursuing her faith. I have had several powerful moments of repenting and asking her forgiveness and God’s, for so many years of turning away from Him, and so many years of being an obstacle for Judy’s relationship with God and in recent years, with Mosaic. I was lost for so many years! I now know what cleansing repentance is.
As for the worship team, it is an honor to be a part of it. Learning these powerful songs and helping with the guitar playing. I sang the song “What can I do” for the Christmas eve services, and was moved to tears several times when rehearsing it at home. “What can I do but give my life to you – Hallelujah!” It was the perfect song for me to be singing. Connecting with worship, helping others to connect with worship is a privilege I thank Jesus for.
The men’s accountability group has given me a group of mentors. All have been Christians for many years, and I’m the 52-year-old “kid” in the group. It actually feels like that at times. I have a lot to learn and a lot of catching up to do. I’m laying down my life for God’s service. What that means is not entirely clear for the long run, but I will take it one step at a time.
I’ve reached a comfort level at Mosaic – comfortable being vulnerable in spiritual growth, knowing I’m surrounded by people who are striving for their own unique relationships with Christ. I’m continuing on the journey and I when I have challenges that pull me off track, I take them one at a time. I don’t want to go back. I want to keep going forward with Christ.