If there were a Guinness Book of World Records record for "amount of times having asked Jesus into your heart," I'm pretty sure I would hold it.
By the time I reached the age of 18 I had probably "asked Jesus into my heart" 5,000 times. I started somewhere around age 4 when I approached my parents one Saturday morning asking how someone could know that they were going to heaven. They carefully led me down the "Romans Road to Salvation," and I gave Jesus his first invitation into my heart.
Both my parents and my pastor felt confident of my sincerity and my grasp on the details, and so I was baptized. We wrote the date in my Bible and I lived in peace about the matter for nearly a decade.
One Friday night during my 9th grade year, however, my Sunday school teacher told us that according to Matthew 7:21-23, many people who think they know Jesus will awaken on that final day to the reality that he never really knew them. Though they had prayed a prayer to receive Jesus, they had never really been born again and never taken the lordship of Jesus seriously. They would, my teacher explained, be turned away from heaven into everlasting punishment with the terrifying words, "Depart from me, you workers of iniquity. I never knew you."
I'll never forget the impact those words had on me. Would I be one of those ones turned away? Had I really been sorry for my sins? And could I really have known what I was doing at age 4?
So I asked Jesus to come into my heart again, this time with a resolve to be much more intentional about my faith. I requested re-baptism, and gave a very moving testimony in front of our congregation about getting serious with God.
Not long after that, however, I found myself asking again: Had I really been sorry enough ...1