I do not ever remember not being in church. My mother made sure I was there every time the doors were open from the time I was very little.
I came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as my savior as a 9-year-old boy and was called to preach at the age of 12.
My mother also had me in a Christian school my entire life.
In short, I was incredibly sheltered (a fact for which I am infinitely grateful, by the way.)
Being so sheltered it was inevitable that, if I ever determined to backslide, I would not be able to go too far without everyone being aware just how out of place I was. At around the age of 17, I decided to spend some time "sowing my wild oats." Mind you, I didn't even know how to find wild oats, much less actually sow them successfully.
As a prospective wild child, I was utterly, thoroughly, painfully inept and boring. I never drank. I never smoked. I never did drugs. I could never bring myself to utter anything worse than the very mildest of profanities, fearing that the judgment of God would fall directly from his hand the moment I did.
As far as the boudoir, my dear, patient wife (who, unlike me, actually paid attention to the parental "birds and bees" speech) literally had to teach me everything I now know; I came into marriage utterly oblivious.
And thus it was that my "wild oats" led me to the only thing left for me to pursue: going to parties and trying to fit in.
It was at one of those parties that I experienced the beginning and the end of my dancing career. Everyone was in the backyard, the music was thumping, and everyone was dancing as hard as they could. Not wanting to be out of place, it occurred to me that I should be dancing as well. This despite the fact that I do not know a foxtrot from a moonwalk or the funky chicken from the electric slide.
That did not stop me, though. Those who know me well know that if I do something, I give maximum effort. So I twisted. I gyrated. I jumped. I shook. And as I was doing so it occurred to me that I must be impressing everyone, I was surely going to be the life of this party.
And that is when I felt the tapping on my right shoulder. I stopped in the middle of a jumping twist and turned to face a young man who was clearly inebriated. His eyes were red; he was having trouble standing; his speech was slurred. But I shall never forget till my dying day what he said at the top of his lungs:
"Dude, would you stop! You look like a geeky white boy!"
Dancing. Career. Over.
I left there that night and not only did I never dance again (save with my wife, who has been so patient in that arena as well), I never went to any parties of that sort anymore either. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was out of my element. I was saved, and God expected me to live like it, and I wasn't doing the lost or the saved either any favors by not being who God called me to be.
If you are saved, God has a specific purpose for your life. It is the same purpose he has for every child of God. Romans 8:29 says, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son."
God's desire for every Christian is that day by day they be more and more conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is his purpose for us to live such holy, joyful, biblical, spirit-filled lives, everyone we meet knows without even having to ask that we are his.
Matthew 5:16 says, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Acts 4:13 says, "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus."
Live for Christ, everywhere, at all times, in every situation. Never waver, never backslide, never compromise, never sow the first wild oat.
Oh, and that geeky white boy you see in heaven one day, off dancing by himself like a fool just out of sheer gratitude for being allowed to be there? That will be me, doing the "Moses Mambo."
And I don't intend to stop for a while unless the Lord himself tells me otherwise.
Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, N.C., and the author of several books available at www.wordofhismouth.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.